Animal rights advocates disappointed by probation order decision Loop Barbados

The content originally appeared on: Barbados News

Not good enough in 2023.

That was the sentiment of animal rights activists from the public gallery of Supreme Court 5, as the Chief Magistrate presided over the case of animal cruelty-accused Davino Howard and rendered his “zero sentence”.

When Chief Magistrate Ian Weeks ordered that Howard receive 12 months probation for the three charges -withholding information from police, failure to obtain a licence for a dog over the age of six months and cruelty to animals – there was a look of disbelief on the activists’ faces.

On September 13, 2022, Howard was captured on video with his pet dog at Pebbles Beach, St Michael. On Tuesday, January 17, when questioned by the chief magistrate, Howard said that he did not drown the dog. “I did love that dog,” he told the court.

Walking out of the courtroom, Debbie Funk Of K9 Friends, Dorian Boyce of Woodbourne Boarding Kennels and Lavern Beresford who witnessed the incident were emotional.

We have incorporated and inculcated the same methodologies used by the slave masters when we are dealing with animals

Attorney-at-law Lalu Hanuman kept a watching brief for the interest groups and appealed to the chief magistrate for a custodial sentencing of one-year imprisonment or a fine of $1,000 for Howard.

Speaking to Loop News after the ruling, Hanuman expressed that he was disheartened by the “zero sentence”. He maintained that Howard, who was sentenced to 12 months probation and counselling, received a tap on the wrist.

“The Government is talking about changing the law so much that the fine is raised to $100, 000 and of course that has made some people very excited, but even the limited $1,000 which it is currently at, is not being implemented, so it being $1 million doesn’t make any difference.

“What we need is the legislation that currently exists to be implemented and I am quite disheartened that nothing was done further than his previous sentence for the giving of false information to the police or rather withholding information for the police and not having a dog licence. Nothing was added to him given his conviction. He admitted to it and he was convicted and he got nothing out of it. So, in fact, it was a zero sentence. I am not particularly happy about that,” Hanuman insisted.

It is a societal problem when we have people that have clearly become callous about any life at all

Chief Magistrate Weekes’s comments that human life should be put first before an animal also struck a chord with Hanuman and the activists. Hanuman contended that the statement reflected the same mindset of slavery, where the feelings and liberalities of blacks were considered non-existent.

“In some jurisdictions, animals are accepted as sentient beings. New Zealand recently passed legislation in that regard whereby animals are designed as sentient beings. It means they are capable of feeling pain, they are capable of thinking and they are capable of feeling discomfort if their liberties are deprived.

“It is the same mindset that we continue to perpetuate here in the Caribbean. We have incorporated and inculcated the same methodologies used by the slave masters when we are dealing with animals. We chain them, we whip them, we abuse and it is the same mindset that has led to slavery and to the abuse of animals. It is all part of a continuum,” Hanuman held.

Animal rights advocate and eyewitness, Lavern Beresford was disappointed by the court’s leniency and the comments made by the chief magistrate as well, saying that “in some … jurisdictions they seem to elevate animals over humans”.

She asserted that Monday’s proceedings reflected the lack of empathy for animals.

“The mere fact that the statement kept being reiterated that human life is above all animal life, speaks volumes. Every life matters not just humans and when we fail to punish people for being cruel to animals, that is where we have gone wrong in society.

“It is a societal problem when we have people that have clearly become callous about any life at all, whether it is animals or humans, and we fail to punish them suitably for that, so without groups then the animals have no chance at all,” Beresford told Loop.