Home Commentary Editorial WHY NOT PROTECT ANIMALS

WHY NOT PROTECT ANIMALS

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The proposed Animal Cruelty Bill has again been scuttled in committee. We are heartsick to see it tossed aside again. And we don’t understand why.
What would cause Sens. Adelbert M. Bryan, Almando "Rocky" Liburd, Norma Pickard-Samuel and Celestino White Sr. to stop this bill from moving out of the Rules Committee?
The bill's intention is to protect helpless animals.
If it were to become law, first-degree offenses, punishable by a fine of $1,000 and up to five years in jail, would include physical injury to an animal, unnecessarily killing an animal, disposing of live animals in garbage bins, neglect, committing a hit-and-run on an animal or confining an animal in a vehicle without adequate ventilation.
It defines second-degree neglect, which is also punishable by a fine and community service, as failing to give an animal adequate care.
It is frightening to think that those four legislators cannot find it in their hearts to support this humanitarian bill, which in its enforcement might eventually lead to the slowing of child abuse since it includes a counseling component for certain of the more violent abuses.
Bryan claimed he wanted an amendment to cover the picking up of strays, but the amendment was never attached to the bill. He also said no one was going to tell him how to feed his animals.
Here is what the bill says about that:
"Adequate food means the provision at suitable intervals of wholesome foodstuff, suitable for the species and age of the animal and adequate to maintain a reasonable level of nutrition to allow for proper growth and weight in the animal."
It also suggests that food should be provided in a clean bowl.
We wonder what part of this is unacceptable to Sen. Bryan and the other senators who sought to bury this bill one more time, leaving the door wide open for the horrific abuse of animals to continue.
We wonder what these elected officials feel when, while dropping their garbage off on the way to the Legislature, they come across a litter of helpless puppies left motherless by a Dumpster, or if these distinguished elected officials are sickened, like at least 3,000 other Virgin Islanders who signed a petition in support of this bill are, at the sight of injured animals left by the side of the road to die by negligent drivers who don't bother to stop and try to save the animals or find their owners.
We wonder when the abuse and neglect of animals and children will stop — and make no mistake, the two are often linked. We also wonder who will help stop it.

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