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Columns : The Pet Pages - Kim Aranha Last Updated: Jun 20, 2014 - 5:05:44 PM


The first step to helping
By Kim Aranha
Jul 20, 2009 - 12:05:05 PM

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This is a rescued potcake puppy (from an abusive home) at the Bahamas Humane Society

This week was a very encouraging week for animal lovers, especially for me as we finally saw a definite interest in the rights of animals to live pain-free and cruelty-free lives. This interest came in the form of the press getting hold of a horrible story where a man, on Step Street, Fox Hill, Nassau, confronted his girlfriend (and the mother of his one year old child). When she managed to get away from him he allegedly turned on her family pet and shot the animal, a large crossbreed, in the stomach twice, and killed him. 

This senseless killing appeared to spark more interest than usual, and the local press was “all over it”. I received countless phone calls and was invited onto several news programmes. I even did a LIVE interview during ZNS news.  Please don’t get me wrong, I have no personal interest in having “air time” or being known, my ecstasy on being on TV (four times in one week) is because of the exposure it gave the animal cruelty situation in the Bahamas. I feel that perhaps it has been a bit of a wake up call that we should all pay mind to.

The problem with wake up calls is rather like the alarm clock at 6:00am, you have two choices. You can hear it, switch it off (or hide it under the pillow) and go back to sleep after having done 100% nothing about it, OR (really big OR here), you can hear the alarm go off, listen, and climb out of bed and do something about it… This is where we are in the Bahamas right now.

This is how I see it: the situation in the Bahamas is as follows. You can split up the general population into three categories.

1.    The first category are those that really love and respect animals. They probably have well cared for pets and they have their animals neutered even if they have to pay for it.  These are the type of people who will go out of their way to help an animal in distress.

2.    The next category is I think probably the largest, and that is of people who just don’t care one way or another. Animals are there, if they have pets, they feed them whatever food is lying around. If they look really sick they just might take them to the vet. They will allow their pets to be neutered, provided they do not have to pay or make any effort. They do not go out of their way to hurt an animal nor do they go out of their way to help an animal.

3.    In the third category are the ones that we need to really watch out for. By far the smallest group in our population, but as far as animals are concerned, the most dangerous. These are the people who think suffering is funny. They are the ones who will, kick or throw stones at a dog lying bleeding in the road after being hit by a car. These are the people who throw boiling water over the dog to stop him barking, or burn him with cigarettes for fun. These are the children who use a puppy as a football instead of a ball, who see if they can skin a dog alive, or set fire to a frog and laugh when he hops around in agony or catch little birds and pull off their wings to see what they will do….

HEARD ENOUGH?

I could fill this page with atrocities, all of which the Bahamas Humane Society has dealt with and sadly, I can assure you, will deal with again in the future, probably not too far down the road.

The press picking up the sad and horrid story of the family pet being killed and airing countless interviews of me and Jane Mather of Advocates for Animal Rights are but the tip of the ice burg…We need to keep the pressure on and make people aware of what really goes on in the Bahamas and the unconscionable acts of cruelty that are perpetrated daily.

I believe that most people perceive the Bahamas Humane Society as an institution filled with rather eccentric people, invariably middle aged, foreign, well heeled women, who have nothing better to do that put jeweled collars on dogs who sleep on plush satin pillows, This perception could not be more wrong.  The Bahamas Humane Society is an institution that sees much sadness and suffering, there are many young people involved in the organization as volunteers and paid staff members. The mission of all these people so heavily involved at the BHS is to alleviate and eventually stamp out animal suffering. Sometimes the task of alleviating animal suffering seams an impossible one to attain, it is hard to feel you are making headway when a dog comes in who has been sexually abused by a human!

The press coverage is grand, but there is a bigger picture, one that requires the involvement of all the good people out there, all the category 1 animal people, and those who care and care to see a change. It is so easy to do nothing and wait for others to do the “doing”, but I fear that this needs everybody’s involvement.

We need to see the Police step up and listen to the advice the BHS can give them, we need to see the Police charge people with animal cruelty, we need to see the magistrates enforce the law. It is important that people realize the correlation between animal cruelty and domestic and spousal abuse. In almost every home that has an animal cruelty issue you will see the telltale signs of a bruise on the woman or a fearful and nervous child peering around from behind her skirts. You can feel the fear permeating the room; you could almost cut it with a knife.

We also need the churches to speak up and to tell the congregations that animal abuse and cruelty is wrong. These animals are God’s creatures and need to be treated with kindness and respect. We need the pulpit to speak of love and kindness and to help us to spread the message. If you cannot be kind to a helpless, defenseless animal, what can you are kind to?

This incident with the man of Step Street is one of many, but have you read anywhere that the police have arrested him and charged him? Has anyone asked why he had a gun that night and was it licensed, was it a handgun? Are we, as citizens of the Bahamas, allowed to carry handguns, are we allowed to discharge them anywhere, at any time, at any thing… Will these questions ever be answered?

What happens when an angry man carries a gun and there isn’t a family pet to take his uncontrolled rage out on, what if it is a child standing there? Too many people are prepared to let things happen that they know are wrong but it is just easier to turn the other way and pretend that it is NOT happening.  If we continue to allow this to take place in our country things will not improve. The cruelty rate will remain and increase, the spin off domestic cruelty will continue, there will be countless cries in the dark of abused and neglected animals and children alike…. Can we continue to live in denial and not do something about this.? If we take this passive stance, will we be able to look at ourselves in the mirror.

I will let you be the judge !



About the author: Kim Aranha grew up in the Berry Islands with her first dog, a beloved potcake named “Friendly” (who was anything but!). First educated at home, and then in boarding school in Switzerland, Kim moved to Rome, Italy in 1974 to pursue a career in the dramatic arts and ended up working as an interpreter. She moved back to The Bahamas in 1980, and now lives in Nassau with her husband Paul, and their two teenaged sons. Kim has 3 dogs, 3 goldfish fish, a beta fish,  a tank of freshwater exotic fish, 11 turtles (2 babies, 6 adolescents. 3 adults), 1 Asian box turtle and 4 Budgerigars. Her idea of relaxing is being home to take care of all her pets. Kim is Pesident of the Bahamas Humane Society, and serves on the board of BREEF, and is co-chairman of the Bahamas Sea Turtle Conservation Group. Kim can be contacted at berryislandgirl@gmail.com



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