Feb. 3, 2006 — A grim discovery came to light Wednesday when a man cleaning property at Joseph & Rosendahl found the decomposed remains of two dogs.
Joe Elmore, Humane Society of St. Thomas executive director, said the animals must have succumbed to neglect.
He said a woman, who recently acquired the property, had evicted the tenant last week. She notified the Humane Society Thursday of the gruesome find. Elmore said the skeletal remains were those of two Rottweilers enclosed in a work shed.
The discovery brings to three the number of suspected animal abuse cases in the past two weeks, Elmore said.
He said, "I'm not sure how this case would hold up in court, but we are actively pursuing the other two, which are very strong cases."
After five years of endless politics and delays, the Anti-Animal Cruelty bill was passed in the Senate last May. The law states that animal abuse is a felony punishable by imprisonment by up to two years, with a fine of $2,000. Animal neglect is a misdemeanor with no imprisonment, but a fine not exceeding $3,000 and up to 500 hours of community service.
The Humane Society is not a law-enforcement agency — it works with the Department of Agriculture, the Police Department and the Justice Department.
The previous two cases included four dogs. Elmore said, "Two of the dogs are with two different vets. One of them is in critical condition. The other two are here, and they are coming around. If you feed an animal, it improves."
All four dogs were found, "chained or caged and left to starve," Elmore said. He said the first case was reported by an off-duty policeman who saw the animals, and the second case was reported by the police, who saw the animals when they were investigating an unrelated case."
Elmore said the Society is working closely with the Justice Department and the Police Department on the cases. "One of these cases, may be a felony," he said. "We are very carefully investigating these cases."
He said the Society has a number of cases filed with the Justice Department, which determines whether the cases can be prosecuted.
When the Anti-Animal Cruelty bill became law last year, Elmore said, "Now, we have a strong law. We can use it as a model for the rest of the Caribbean. We can be an example. Our next step is to educate the community to what the law means."
And Elmore said Friday, "Education is the key. These cases could have been prevented." He said the animals could all have been brought to the Society free of charge, or the Society could have picked them up. Animals can be dropped off at the shelter in Nadir, no questions asked. There is a large cage outside the shelter where animals can be dropped off when the shelter is closed. The shelter phone number is 775-5099.
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