Accomplishing the mission
Why so Much Concern?
Animals, like humans, are not born to be harmful or aggressive...it is often the poor circumstances under which they are living which makes them harmful and these circumstances are in almost all cases, caused by humans. The same principle applies with children; they are not born violent. However, if their parents are violent or they live within a violent community, they become violent with humans as well as animals. The welfare of animals can be explained as protecting animals against cruelty and offering help to sick and/or hurt animals. If animals were protected by laws giving them basic rights, the obvious outcome would be improvement to the welfare of animals in our community. Several residents of the island, concerned with the poor conditions a lot of animals live in on the island as well as with the many incidents that happened with animals, assembled to form this foundation. Soon it became clear that very little / not enough can be done in animal abuse or animal cruelty cases, because of very old fashioned laws which are presently in force in Sint Maarten. Under the present legislation it is difficult if not impossible to actually do something about animal abuse and animal cruelty. A lot of animals are living under very poor conditions on this island, but nothing really can be done, because no proper legislation is in place. Our goal is to better the situation and lives of animals in general on the island through Changes of legislation, through education/training and awareness programs to the public As well as publicity and media campaigns.
How to Tackle the Problem
In the ordinance several important issues are addressed, such as:
- A general prohibition on meaningless killing, on harming and torturing animals.
- A general provision that everybody is obliged to provide animals with sufficient care, meaning enough food and water, shelter, medical care and exercise; if not provided the animals can be taken away from the keepers/guardian.
- A limitation on chaining of animals, meaning no longer than 8 continuous hours in a 24 hour period and no chaining at all under dangerous circumstances such as during natural disasters.
- Very important: a general prohibition on all animal fights, on organizing these fights and make locations available to these fights; It is forbidden to keep wild animals as pets; It is forbidden to give out animals as a price , a reward or gift during raffles and other events.
- The executive council can issue a permit to certain establishments to sell, to keep or have in custody animals, if these establishments comply with certain requirements as submitted in the ordinance; this concerns for instance pet shops, shelters, vets, etc.
- No animal will be given up for adoption without being spayed or neutered.
- The executive council can appoint a so-called humane office or animal control officer who will be doing supervision of the rules in this ordinance. This officer will have several powers, such as general inspection of places, the right to enter, and to remove animals.
- Any person guilty of violation of the articles in this ordinance will be punished with a detention of maximum 2 months or a fine of maximum 2000 Nafl.
What Outcome is Expected
As you might remember, a couple of months ago, several people, including small children, were attacked and injured by (stray) dogs. Two of the three dogs were killed by the police, while one remains at large. Without proper identification, such as a tag or a chip, the search for the animal's guardian is very difficult. Yet another incident occurred in October 2003, whereby a dog was burned alive. The persons responsible have been identified and are awaiting trial. What is unbelievable is that this person still defends that what he did was right. These kinds of incidents can be addressed effectively under the new ordinance. We hope we can count on you to assist us in achieving our goals by implementing new laws for the rights of animals.