June 7, 2011
Stray dogs hurting livestock farmers

Acting Chief Agricultural Officer Leslie Grant is appealing to dog owners, who have left their animals to roam freely, to be aware of the destruction done to farmers and their livestock.{{more}}

Grant makes this plea in response to recent loss of animals, due to stray dogs, by a number of farmers in the Belair/Dauphine area.

On Wednesday, June 1, a call was received reporting the loss of four adult sheep that were ravaged and killed by dogs that were apparently roaming the area in search of mates and food.

According to Grant, these farmers were ‘hit hard’ due to the loss of these animals, all adults, which have a market value of $400-$450 each. This, he stated, does not only affect the pockets of the farmers, but seriously defeats the livestock programme being implemented by the Animal Health and Production Division, which now seeks to reduce the heavy meat import bill of St.Vincent and the Grenadines of well over $5.4 mil for 2010.

Dr. Kathian Hackshaw, Chief Veterinary Officer, confirms that so far, between the months January and March this year, there have been 35 reported cases of animal loss due to dog attack, with a market value of about $14,000.

She stated that over the years, there seems to be a developing trend of stray dogs attacking livestock.

“It tends to take place during the mating season when the bulls roam in search of female dogs. They get hungry and have to eat, so the animals most likely attacked are the docile sheep, which are usually tied when tethering,” stated Hackshaw.

Hackshaw said a legal solution is being sought to control the number of stray dogs left to roam the streets freely, destroying livestock, polluting the environment and generally being of nuisance to the public.

However, until this is enacted into law, persons are being made aware of their responsibility to prevent their dogs from destroying the property of the farmers. She is also appealing to farmers, to be aware of the periods of the year when this is most likely to occur, and to be more circumspect and vigilant with the security of their animals.

Grant stated that presently, the Ministry is in the process of importing 100 Barbados Black Belly Sheep to be distributed to farmers who suffered losses from Hurricane Tomas and the recent flash floods in the northern section of the country.

This will cost over $350,000.