Prime Minister Mia Mottley has chastised animal rights activists who she chided for waging a public campaign that portrays Barbados as a nation that turns a blind eye to animal cruelty.
She declared that the actions of those individuals were tantamount to “terrorism against the state”, as she defended her government’s efforts to cope with the animal abuse problem.
Though not naming any particular organisation, a straight-talking Mottley publicly chastised those looking for to steer boycotts against the island in response to comments by two activists at Wednesday night’s Christ Church Speaks town hall meeting on the Christ Church Foundation School.
The Prime Minister said while she was horrified by and wouldn’t condone maltreatment of “any living organism”, the “campaign waged against the country that this isn’t any more a tropical paradise is a disproportionate motion on the a part of those that would love to have motion taken by the Government”.
“I didn’t threaten anybody and I not am not going to permit anybody to threaten the state either. So, allow us to be clear that you simply all must take that off the table,” Mottley declared.
Refusing to back down because the speakers interjected to distance themselves from such smear campaigns, the Prime Minister insisted: “Allow us to be clear that we want to take that off the table because then that may be a type of terrorism against the state, and I’m sure that’s not what you meant…. Nevertheless much we may disagree on domestic issues, nonetheless much we should want to ask people to do higher, … it can’t be that two wrongs make a right.”
Mottley made her position clear after one activist from the Be Their Voice Movement insisted that education and stricter laws were mandatory, and one other, Debbie Funk, demanded answers a few case by which a dog that was taken from “a really bad situation” by the Animal Control Unit was returned to the owner and was later poisoned.
The duo’s contributions to the town hall meeting got here amid concerns about animals being kept in poor conditions, not fed properly, and physically abused or abandoned, and the outrage at specific cases, including last month’s alleged drowning of a dog at Pebbles Beach which led to a person being charged.
Charities have presented Prime Minister Mottley with petitions stating their case that animal abuse cases are on the rise and the necessity for laws to guard the rights of animals. A number of the petitions, stories, photos and videos highlighting animal cruelty have gone viral on social media, attracting the eye of holiday makers and Barbadians living abroad, with some even calling for tourists to boycott the island.
Nevertheless, Mottley and Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir who attended the town hall meeting insisted that authorities were making efforts to handle the difficulty and were communicating directly with stakeholders.
The Prime Minister said she had received correspondence from animal rights advocates and her office has been working on getting the relevant laws drafted, however the Government was experiencing a delay in getting laws drafted because of a shortage of draughtsmen.
Mottley told the audience, nonetheless, that there have been clear efforts to cope with the difficulty and she or he condemned those that sought to offer the impression that authorities were sitting on their hands while animal abuse persevered.
“This can be a country where you wrote me and we took motion…. This can be a country where the Prime Minister asked the Minister [Weir] to fulfill with you . . . in order that there isn’t any reason for us to be hotting up the place so!” she insisted.
“We’ve agreed that we’re going to take a look at the laws and update it. We’ve agreed that we are going to proceed to do a public education programme, and Minister Weir has been the one representing this to me, so I believe that what we are able to do is that. But what we are able to’t do is have people saying that they will stop Barbadians from working by putting a programme internationally against the country because people feel that we should not treating animals properly.
“Murder takes place in every society but it surely doesn’t mean that because a murder has taken place in Barbados that this just isn’t a rustic for people to go to, because the fact is that it’s all relative still,” Mottley added.
Minister Weir told the packed auditorium that he held talks with stakeholders three weeks ago and it was agreed there should be harmonisation between his Ministry and the Ministry of Health and Wellness, which is liable for the Animal Control Unit, and that there can be further consultation to bring about needed changes.
“But I also drew to the eye of everyone sitting in that meeting that we live in a Barbadian culture where you’ve got very poor individuals who love animals and wish to maintain their pets. A lot of them don’t have guard partitions or fencing in order that they should keep the dogs on a leash,” he identified.
“If, in reality and in truth, we’re going to go forward collectively, what solutions are you able to offer to those individuals who need to keep a pet but don’t have the financial resources? So, you don’t just like the condition under which you might be seeing the pet being kept, how can we work together to supply the support to those people?”
Weir also defended his actions in the actual case mentioned by Funk.
He explained that when he and Ministry of Health inspectors visited the residence in St George, he was satisfied the dog was not being mistreated, based on the loving relationship he witnessed between the animal and the owner.
“The fact is that I cannot deprive the poor woman who’s crying because she loves her pet but she doesn’t have fencing, she doesn’t have a spot to maintain the dog aside from by a kennel. The fact of it’s that that is Barbados, people love their pets but they can not afford to find a way to accommodate them as others might need,” Weir maintained.
“The family just isn’t a wealthy family. We agreed that the health inspectors would go around and visit the dog on a weekly basis. The week that they went to go to the dog, they arrive back and report back to me that someone poisoned the dog. A lady crying her heart out is not going to do a thing like that,” Weir told the audience, adding that she had already informed Funk that a full investigation can be conducted and “the total force of the law” can be delivered to bear where mandatory.
Prime Minister Mottley subsequently urged Barbadians to not make assumptions about animal owners based on cultural differences and “other realities”.
“Indar’s point about individuals who don’t live with a fence is a sound point. By the identical token, there are some individuals who have loads of land and the dogs can run freely…. I don’t want us to assume about people since it’s going to be a type of profiling that’s going to get us into trouble. Allow us to work together,” she insisted.