(CMR) The Cayman Islands Humane Society said the Government should be ” deeply ashamed ” for not only seeing it fit to criminalize the feeding of cats and chickens, but making it an imprisonable offense.
In a letter to Premier Wayne Panton on February 6, the Humane Society said the new laws under the National Conservation (Alien Species) Regulations 2022 are unnecessary, disproportionate and represent a drastic regression for animal welfare laws and policies in the Cayman Islands.
The Humane Society said they are disappointed that they nor any other animal charities were not consulted about the regulations.
“It is clear that in failing to engage in dialogue with us and other key stakeholders, important issues have not been considered. This has resulted in irrational regulations and a confused, inconsistent, and misleading narrative being propagated by the Government about these important animal welfare issues,” the letter stated.
The Humane Society calls on the Government to rethink its position about things such as trap neuter release and the criminalization of feeding cats and chickens, which will result in willful neglect and unnecessary suffering of the animals. This, the Society said, has relegated Cayman's animal welfare regime far behind other developed countries.
The Humane Society further stated that the new regulations would not only result in the suffering of these animals but those the Government seeks to protect.
“We invite the Government to repeal the regulations forthwith, and proceed to carry out a proper consultation process with all relevant stakeholders, including the public it serves,” the letter stated.
Following a query from CMR regarding the maximum penalty under the new regulations, the Department of Environment said the general principle of the maximum penalty is to allow judges to sentence within a law as they feel is appropriate to the particulars of an individual case and to account for the worst possible hypothetical cases of infraction under the law.
“While the maximum penalty applies to Regulations under the Law, including the Alien Species Regulations, it also applies to the Marine Parks Regulations, and if we look at how judges have sentenced in the worst cases of poaching, for example, we will see those cases have not had even close to maximum penalties imposed,” an official in the DoE told CMR.
The official explained it is misleading to say the maximum fine would be applied if a person is found feeding cats and chickens.
See a copy of the letter sent from the Humane Society to the Premier below: