Every day animals in Barbados are abused and abandoned by their owners and nothing is done. Firmly holding this belief, animal activist Debbie Funk of K9 Friends wants abusers to be publicly humiliated and feel the full weight of stronger laws.
K9 Friends is a dog rehoming and neutering charity established and funded by British television personality and record executive Simon Cowell.
Speaking to Loop News, Funk pointed out that the abuse and neglect of pets in Barbados has escalated recently and she called on authorities to revisit the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals legislation.
Her comments come following a viral video showing a dog dying in the hands of its owner at a south coast beach and pictures on the Ocean Acres Animal Sanctuary Facebook page of several dogs living in deplorable conditions.
“They should never, ever be allowed to have another animal under their care; that is the way I see it happening in the UK and all the big countries. If you are caught being cruel to an animal, you are not ever allowed to have an animal again and you are fined, you are imprisoned. People back in the UK will be given community service to do and make an exhibition of them,” Funk told Loop News.
“It needs to be made public who these people are and photographed in the newspapers and the television. That is what needs to be done and hopefully [bring] some shame,” she continued.
While referring to a 2020 case where two men were arrested for setting a monkey on fire, Funk maintained that culprits would only get ” a slap on the wrist” from the Government.
According to Section 3 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, any person who wantonly and cruelly beats, ill-treats, starves, overdrives, overloads, abuses, tortures, infuriates, teases, terrifies or causes unnecessary mutilation or suffering to, or otherwise maltreats an animal or causes or procures to be done an act referred previously or permits any animal to be infuriated, teased, terrified or caused any unnecessary suffering is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $1,000 or to imprisonment for 12 months or both.
Funk lamented that these incidents were occurring daily across the island but she posits that they are being ignored by authorities. She stressed that non-governmental organisations such as K9 Friends and others have persistently petitioned the Government but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
“Every single day I go on social media, someone has posted more cruelty [and] more cruelty and nobody is doing anything about it. We can do so much but we cannot change the laws and numerous emails have gone off [and] petitions have been signed.
“…There is no lack of support from the community…many people are willing to help but Government needs to step into Animal Control who are not doing their job,” she claimed.
While she acknowledged that educating the masses would help to change attitudes, Funk noted that changing mindsets and behaviour took time. As an immediate short-term measure, however, she suggested that individuals spay and neuter their cats and dogs.
“Spaying and neutering is certainly a big issue here [in Barbados],” she said.
“We definitely have got to stop these breeders, just breeding and breeding. No one is interested in buying a puppy, there are too many dogs in kennels and shelters that need homes. The breeding has got to stop! They breed them and then they can’t find homes so they dump them, so spay and neuter and you won’t get that.”
She revealed that K9 Friends has a neutering clinic which will be able to assist. Funk stated that accommodations will be made for financially strapped persons.
“If you cannot afford to pay for the spaying and neutering of your cat or dog, they will investigate. They will ask questions – Do you work or have any financial issues? If people are generally not in a financial position to do this, they will do that. They will take the dogs and the cats and they will even come and collect them for you,” she explained.