Updating Jamaica's Animal-related Laws - Responsible Ownership, Animal Welfare & Dog Population Control
August 17, 12018
The Jamaica Veterinary Medical Association (JVMA) notes with horror yet another report of an attack by free roaming dogs, which this time has resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Whittington Cole last month. This comes against the backdrop of continued lax attention to the issues of responsible dog ownership and dog population control in Jamaica. Our hearts go out to the family and all those affected by similar tragedies over the years.
From as far back as 2004, when it became clear that dogs such as American Pit Bull Terriers were being smuggled into the island, circumventing the legal importation process, the JVMA warned of the possible consequences given the lack of sufficient legislation and public practice with regard to responsible dog ownership as well as the general view of many Jamaicans that their dogs must be “bad” for security purposes.
Dr. Roberta Harris-Daley - JVMA Assistant Secretary
The Need for Sustained Veterinary Education.
Dr. Roberta Harris-Daley
Currently, there are approximately 87 veterinarians practicing in Jamaica, with the majority being employed in government regulatory work or private clinical practice (involving preventative medicine and the diagnosis and treatment of various illnesses in pets, food-producing animals and horses).
This figure represents a veterinarian: human population ratio of 1:30, 000 which is grossly inadequate, especially when compared to other neighbouring North American and Caribbean countries with ratios between 1 per 2000 and per 10, 000.
The inadequacy is blatantly seen in the lack of clinical veterinary services in many rural parishes, where farmers and pet owners are left without veterinary care for their animals, and has also led to the proliferation of illegal practitioners which poses a threat, not just to animal welfare, but also to food safety and human health.
After many years of waiting, persons who wish to bring dogs and cats into Jamaica from countries other than the United Kingdom and Ireland will be able to do so, provided they meet the conditions for pet travel as set out in the revised Regulations that have been promulgated by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries as announced by Minister the Hon. Karl Samuda in September.
The lobbying process to bring about these changes officially began in February 2004 when the (then) Small Animal Veterinary Practitioners Association of Jamaica (SAVPAJ) convened a Veterinary Colloquium on the Movement of Companion Animals. Local and international speakers discussed the advancements that had been made in the control of major diseases of these animals, most notably rabies, and the changes that had resulted in the laws, regulations and policies of other rabies free countries such as the UK, the Cayman Islands and Barbados, with the introduction of “Pet Travel Schemes.”
Based on those findings, and against the backdrop of the dangerous apparent smuggling of dogs from unknown sources into Jamaica, the JVMA issued a position document in 2005, calling for the introduction of similar changes in Jamaica. The objective was to ensure the safe movement of these pets, through microchip identification, rabies vaccination and protective titre checks, relevant parasite treatments and health certification for freedom for any other diseases of concern. This also included the necessary policy changes regarding the importation of rabies vaccines, so they could be available for pets being exported as required by many countries, as well as for humans who work on the “front line” with at-risk domestic and wild animals.
In 2008, then Agriculture Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton formed a committee to explore the issue of the movement of companion animals as well as the stray and dangerous dog situations. The Committee was comprised of veterinarians from the JVMA, the Veterinary Services Division and the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA) as well as the President of the Jamaica Kennel Club. In its report, the committee called for the laws and regulations to be changed in line with the Association’s position, as well as strengthening of legislation covering the keeping of dogs, among other things.
In 2012, under Agriculture Minister the late Roger Clarke, new regulations were passed which set out a specific process for the importation of dogs certified as “service” animals and greatly expanded the list of countries from which dogs could be imported. Unfortunately, “non-service” dogs from same places were not allowed. This, therefore, did little to change the overall status quo, and resulted in continued distress for many pet owners, both locally an overseas.
Over time, other entities and individuals joined the lobbying cause – including returning residents, tourist industry stakeholders, diplomats, dog breeders, researchers and more – pushing for change to bring the country’s companion animal policies in line with 21st century medical science and technology. Change has finally come.
The new regulations come with a number of requirements for treatment, testing and certification for the animals being brought into the island. These, along with the list of countries can be viewed here.
Animal Health Matters is a new online resource that aims to educate and build greater awareness of the most pressing issues in animal and human health, including zoonotic disease, antimicrobial resistance, global food security and the future role and health of companion animals. Factors such as the impact of global conflicts, trade, how healthier animals mean healthier families and the ongoing focus on zoonotic disease are all debated within the new, attractive and interactive online resource.
Animal Health Matters was produced by the HealthforAnimals, the global animal medicines association, and the World Veterinary Association, the global voice of the veterinary profession to recognize that the health of our pets, farm animals and wide range of wildlife, is inextricably tied up with the health and wellbeing of human beings all over the world.
Animal Health Mattersalso looks to the longer term with items such as ‘Five trends for the next five years’, which assess the impact of new and emerging factors influencing animal health. These ‘Five trends’ include factors such as better surveillance systems for disease threat identification, how portable technologies are helping to fill the void in information about the movement and emergence of livestock disease, and how the role of new technologies, such as satellite data and smart ear tagging, are helping developed and developing nation farmers detect disease sooner.
Click on the image to the right to read Dr. Scott's poem
POSITION PAPER ON ANIMAL WELFARE - CLICK ON LOGO ABOVE
WEEKLY DISEASE REPORT. Please click on the logo above to check on important infectious diseases occurring around the world
POSITION PAPER ON ONE HEALTH - CLICK ON LOGO ABOVE
TRIBUTE TO A DOG
The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.
A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near to his master's side.
He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world . He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he was a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains.
When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey thru the heavens.
GEORGE VEST, 1870
Writer's Credit:Unless otherwise stated, all articles on this page are written by Dr. Paul Cadogan.
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