Owners of small animals that have been impounded are crying out that the fees they are required to pay for the animals’ release are too high, and they are forced to leave their animals in the pounds to die.
The complaints come from those farmers who are rearing goats and sheep, who claim that they are required to pay pound fees of $7,000 per head when the value of a goat or sheep is about $15,000. This was reported to the Region Six Regional Democratic Council (RDC) by the Regional Agricultural Committee.
Addressing the RDC, Regional Councillor Zamal Hussain explained that the issue is having an impact on the lives of farmers in the East Canje, Berbice community.
“These are the persons who were sent home from the Rose Hall Estate… Right
now they are trying to make a living by rearing a few sheep and goats. One of those persons had to pay $72,000 to release a few of their animals. This is like killing someone who is already dead,” he told the House.
Hussain also said the practice of impounding sheep and goats that are found on village streets is only done in some villages.
“Some of the stray catchers say that it is their jurisdiction, so they go into the entire area, including the internal streets, and collect all the animals; and when they are finished, the people have to pay a large set of money. And (in) places like New Amsterdam, which is a town, there are so many animals on the road marching the entire night and day, and not a single stray catcher can be seen in that area,” he noted.
Gobin Harbhajan, another Councillor, said stray catchers should be authorised by means of a letter issued by the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) before they are allowed to impound any animal. He called for a waiver or reduction in the pound fees.
“When it comes to goats, sheep and all those small animals, it is very difficult for the owners, especially during the dry season. These are poor people, and the fees are so high. I am seeking to get the RDC to make the relevant recommendations to have the fees waived. I know that at some of the pounds on the Upper Corentyne, some of the owners can’t afford to take the animals out, and they are left there (to) die. I know of one case (wherein what was owed) was almost $400,000. In that case, the lady had to borrow the money,” Harbhajan detailed.
Harbhajan also noted that in the event of those animals damaging someone’s kitchen or flower garden, the aggrieved party could have an evaluation done to determine the extent of the loss, and the animal owner should have to reimburse the aggrieved party.
Harbhajan called on the Public Security Ministry to look into this matter at the earliest opportunity.
Region 6 Chairman David Armogan told the RDC that it was the residents who had lobbied to have the fees raised to a rate which would act as a deterrent to those who were bent on allowing their animals to roam. He explained that many had suffered as a result of attacks on their vegetation. “When it started, it was only limited to the roads; unfortunately, it has become a business now,” the Chairman said, as he referred to the stray catchers’ involvement. “The stray catchers don’t get paid unless they catch something, so they are looking for anything that they can catch,” he added. He explained that impounding of animals is part of the laws on Guyana which fall under the Police Act.