Guns & Potcakes

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Guns and Potcakes

Few will disagree when I say that the proliferation of unlicensed firearms are wreaking havoc on The Bahamas, especially in Nassau.

But I might raise a few eyebrows when I say that unlicensed dogs are too.

It’s true!  The Bahamas Humane Society estimates there are over 70,000 stray dogs in The Bahamas.

A rampant stray dog population, coupled with an almost complete lack of enforcement of any animal-related laws is creating more than a small social disturbance.

What do you think needs to be done about stray animal overpopulation in The Bahamas?  –  Let us know in the comments.

The problem affects our society in a myriad of ways, from economic to tourism, to the decay of law and order.

The Bahamas Humane Society and the government “Pound” spend millions of dollars per year dealing with neglected, sick, wounded and abused animals. Even if the lion’s share of that money comes from private donors, it is money that could go towards other things but, instead, is being spent on something that shouldn’t be happening.  Other groups like Proud Paws, BAARK! and Stray Busters have also spent plenty of time and resources trying to solve a problem that shouldn’t exist.

Even tourism, our economic engine, isn’t spared the problems that arise from the failure to enforce laws related to animals.

A tourist was attacked by a pack of dogs, owned by irresponsible guardians in Harbour Island. That little incident made the international news and wasn’t exactly the picture of our vacation paradise that we want to project.

More than a few tourists have written to this website saying how they would never visit The Bahamas again because the sight of all those abused and neglected animals ruined their vacation.

By not enforcing the laws related to animals, we send yet another message to young Bahamians, that it is not really necessary to obey the law in The Bahamas.

We send the same message by turning our heads away from illegal gambling, rarely prosecuting and punishing serious crimes and ignoring government and public service corruption.  But those are subjects for other posts.

Many of the worst criminals throughout history began their evil ways as children who abused animals. By continually failing to properly punish animal abusers we help set the path to an even more violent society.  I’ll bet there is a direct correlation between instances of animal abuse or neglect and murder, in every society.  No matter, there is far too much of both in The Bahamas.

Guns aren’t necessarily a bad thing. When properly enforced and treated with respect, they can be useful, used for sport or simply provide comfort and security at home.

The same with potcakes.

Some people say that “Guns don’t kill people, people do.”

Even if you don’t fully agree with that statement you have to admit that people, especially evil or irresponsible people, are behind the damage that guns do to society.

This is even more true regarding potcakes. They are actually harmless little creatures.  But irresponsible people have allowed them to run amuck throughout our islands creating a problem.  Potcakes are not our problem, people are.

The government needs to enforce the laws regarding animals and issue guidelines for proper animal stewardship.  Neglecting and abusing animals is the kind of stuff that people do in Nellie Day’s Bahamas, you know, where we live in straw huts on the beach.

This is the modern Bahamas of 2012. We need to make it “Better in The Bahamas” for animals too.

As always, I thank you for reading and would really appreciate your comments, below.

The video was created by by Christopher Guinness from Jamaica.

24 thoughts on “Guns & Potcakes

    1. Why waste time on the courts? They should be told right away a choice between a permanent record (like is planned for child abusers) as an “animal abuser” and jail time or serving their time at the Humane Society. I think (Depending on their age and the severity of the offence.)they should be made to feed and bathe all the dogs and clean up their “doodoo”. They can feed the cats too and change their litter. I expect they won’t hurt ANYTHING ever again after several weeks of doing that! They say you can tell a lot about a nation just by observing how they treat the “weakest” among them. It’s what sets “first world” countries apart from the rest.
      PEACE.

  1. Thank you for writing this – It is time that everyone in the community stepped up and took responsibility for the animal population problem.

    It is so simple to solve, but yet seems impossible to achieve. Being involved with the Humane Society and Baark! we are avid about spay and neutering and very against breeding. If just 70% of people would spay and neuter we could get a handle on the problem.

    At the Bahamas Humane society its not just unwanted potcakes waiting in hope for another home because they have been cast out or abandoned. Its pure breeds as well because of the GREED and selfishness of people, trying to make a quick buck off of selling pups… but the long term animals are suffering. Shitzu’s, dobermans, rotties, labs… you name it! We even had 2 Great Pyrenese!

      1. Please don’t forget animals can’t use guns and are defenceless. The puppies (like children) didn’t ask to be born, and then have to starve. I think the government needs to pass legislation authorising only a small number of licensed professionals to breed and sell animals. We need a complete halt on animal importation to allow for more adoptions from the Humane Society. A potcake is far hardier than a pure breed and is a good protector for the family who will love you to death. (Especially if he/she was rescued.) Also, we mustn’t forget our feathered friends. While gardening today I noticed a bird which appeared to have been killed by an animal. It looked like something my husband calls a “Poor Joe”. There’s an overgrown private lot behind our property and an equally overgrown “reservation” adjacent to it. I’m certain all this “bush” is home to stray cats and raccoons, as I see them frequently. I’ve asked MOE if they can do anything already. (?) It seems to me if folk are irresponsible about clearing land (When aware they own it!) now and then, government should permit and encourage persons living nearby to clear it and use it for “backyard gardening”. (The only expense to the government would be the initial one of bulldozing the unproductive trees and bush.) For those who may be currently unemployed (like me) and willing, the Ministry of Agriculture could get involved by offering advice. Also, young fruit trees (even banana or coconut)and seedlings or seeds to grow produce. This could help the needy in their communities and when the recession is over could be profitable for those who invest the time and effort. From a logical standpoint; we can always find a “silver lining” in every dark cloud!:) Our pool (badly needs repaired) has filled up with rain water lately, and birds come to drink from it. We must protect them too, lest some species become extinct. Vacant “bushy land” in all residential areas should be cleared for security reasons (easier to catch criminals), to prevent “dumping”, and so stray animals will be more visible. It will make it much easier to round them up for spaying and neutering. There are answers to every “problem” if we use our common sense, and are willing to make an effort. PEACE.

    1. In my last commentary I meant to use the term “backyard farming”. (Not gardening as stated. One is not inclined to eat grass, shrubbery or flowers.) Sorry!

  2. The Bahamas Humane Society does do a lot of amazing work for the animals on this island. Keep your eyes open for Operation Potcake, to be held on New Providence in January of 2013. Between January 10th and January 21st the goal will be to spay and neuter at least 2,000 dogs at five different mobile clinics across the island. This will be a good start towards controlling the stray population on the island. If you are a dog owner, please be a responsible one and have your pet spayed or neutered.

  3. Firstly – Educate the population. Starting at schools with the pre-schoolers first! There is so much ignorance toward animals; cruelty etc and lack of awareness that the responsible act is to ‘fix’ them (Even the ‘wild’ ones that live closeby.. that folks feed and are under their care.) The selfishness is very sad.

    Then, God bless the Humane Society, Stray Busters and Baark for all of their efforts, they need as much support as possible in their education and spay and neuter campaigns! Kudos to vets and their columns and efforts too. The Nation’s attitude toward animals has to shift..laws to enforce this would be great!

    Awareness is key. Thanks for the comment about “operation Potcake” Hopefully more of the public will get involved as they get more educated. It starts with help as simple as dropping off some newspapers and blankets, and donating some pet food. The ‘anti-animal’ attitude is contributing the the stray problem!

    1. I couldn’t agree more. Education is the key for just about any social issue. Children are naturally drawn to animals and for them to be exposed to how to treat animals at an early age will give them a life long love and respect for our furry fellow creatures on this planet. The abuse of animals that many children witness needs to be countered with educating them about loving care and kindness and how much animals depend on humans for their well being. If the Min. of Education would allow volunteers to go into classrooms to speak with the children and do short but meaningful presentations, I’m sure it would do a lot to stop animal abuse.

      1. I think when you’ve got a problem that has reached crisis level, as we do here in The Bahamas, the Minister of Education ought to make animal welfare education a mandatory part of the curriculum. Same with environmental issues, because the Bahamas is heavily dependant on our environment. I’d rather my kids know how to treat animals and the environment, than how to speak French or Spanish. lol

  4. I’ll tell you what’s wrong with Bahamian society. Hundreds of people flock to Facebook to trash Nellie Day for saying they live in straw huts, yet only a handful of people care about potcakes.

    1. It is not for lack of viewers. Our server stats indicate that over 3,100 people in The Bahamas have already read this blog article, yet we’ve only received a handful of comments. Bahamians seem to only react when they can make a buck or if you bruise their ego. That is sad.

      1. Sadly you may be right. I was walking down the road to catch a bus and passing a home near mine where the family allow their 2 potcakes to lie out front even though the back yard has fence around it. I expect they see them as “protection” but residents should have the right to walk on the street without fear of being attacked by dogs. I suffer from osteoarthritis and on this occasion I apparently didn’t walk by the home swiftly enough. The larger of the two dogs, a chocolate brown potcake who appeared to be part pit bull rushed over and bit me on the back of my leg. Luckily I was wearing blue jeans, and the heavy denim fabric didn’t tear so he only pinched and bruised me. However, it was an aggressive action and after calling out nobody came to my aid. I was otherwise unharmed, so continued on and both dogs seemed satisfied to let me go. (Perhaps it was simply a warning.) I live in the east, and on several occasions reported the situation to police at Elizabeth Estates who promised to visit the home and warn the owners to secure their dogs. It seems the RBPF never bothered, or the owners didn’t care. I had to walk a longer route for fear of another attack, because the dogs would still be outside the home and often laid on the road! Lately neither appear to be a threat after I noticed they were both limping badly. I’m not sure if it’s old age or they finally came to grief from a vehicle at some point. As a result, I’ve never bothered to get to know those particular neighbours. I recall when we moved into our home (many years ago) I was told two of their adult children were convicted of particularly heinous crimes perpetrated throughout the east. I believe the gentleman (father) who waved when I used to drive by, passed away several years ago. I believe his widow is still living with (perhaps) at least one of the “criminal” sons, who were released from prison after serving their time. (One can only hope they learned something and are good citizens now.) It’s very troubling to consider how many families with the same irresponsible attitude and selfish mentality are residing in neighbourhoods throughout the country. Can you imagine trying to get justice if I’d ended up in hospital?I rest my case! PEACE.

  5. People should be made responsible for their pets but in a country where many are not even taking responsibility for their children where do we start??
    Education is key and also the support of the organizations that are making a positive difference in this country.
    There are so many issues to deal with it becomes overwhelming but if each person supports and gets involved with a community project or group we CAN make a difference. It seems so many of us wait for someone else to clean up our country but this is OUR community and we all have to come together to make it something we are proud of.
    Thank you for your article.

    1. Hi, i worked as an consultant for the Government of the Bahamas for many years off and on. The Government of the Bahamas needs professional help, from the outside, to advise how to manage the stray dog problem. I was invited to help in 2000 by Jane, an animal concerned group in Nassau. I worked with the Department of Agricuture. I found that the Government did not place the right rescources in place and they need additional training, public education, along with an agressive spay/neuter program to really solve the problem. I would hope that someone now is willing to do that.

      Alan C. Davis, Director
      Onslow County Animal Services
      244 Georgetown Road
      Jacksonville, North Carolina 28540
      Phone :910-937-1161
      E-mail:Alan_Davis@onslowcountync.gov
      Adoptions: http://www.Petharbor.com
      Adopt A Lifelong Pet From Animal Services
      website:www.onslowcountync.gov/animalservices

  6. When I was at the Nassau Guardian I actually did numerous stories on this stray dog problem. I left the Guardian in 2006 and it just pains me to see that this problem has had no real resolution since then. I got tired of writing stories about visitors and tourists alike being attacked by strays. There was a two year old one time with the teeth marks embedded in her head; an old woman in Fox Hill killed while walking home from church and others. There was also a family from Canada that I actually kept in contact with for a while. The mother was viciously attacked by pitbulls in Eleuthera or Briland – right in front of her kids….I felt so sorry but I just wanted to show the family that we really aren’t uncaring, inconsiderate people. I still checked up on her for as long as I could to make sure she was doing okay after that attack and needless to say, they said they were never coming back to The Bahamas anymore. I felt so bad. I remember when I first started doing the stories, the staff at Animal Control were working the 9-5 shift and those were the hours when the strays were chillin’ somewhere sleeping. Everyone knows the strays come out in packs during the night. At that time, it was said that the staff would be placed on a different time schedule but I don’t remember if it was actually implemented.

    Also the laws were not being enforced then and I guess they are not being enforced now. How many people keep these animals and do not have a properly fenced in yard? They harbour these strays and the minute something happens, they deny that the dog is theirs – even when everyone in the neighbourhood has seen the dog being taken care of and fed regularly by that household. If you have a pet dog, the law requires that your yard be fenced in and properly secured to protect pedestrians. Not everyone has a car to get where they have to go. I don’t remember anyone being prosecuted for negligence after their dog gets out and mauls, attacks or kills someone. The dog gets put down and everybody goes about their business but there should be some real harsh punishment for these dog owners who fail to have their properties sufficiently secured so that people can be safe.

    Also, many children should be safe while they are walking home from school and should not have to be running away from any dog in someone’s yard day after day. I agree with you when you say Enough is enough… Too much talking. Time to work. And don’t blame Mr. Gray for the problem, please. Do not bring politics into this. He has not been in office for five years. So try and figure out what was happening over the last ten years – his five and the last five. But this is no time to point fingers and play politics. Maybe with your article, you’ve gotten Mr. Gray’s attention early and he has FIVE YEARS now address this issue. He just reach back, so please be fair. Talk about the most recent efforts to address the problem and if the most recent efforts were that of Mr. Gray, then he was doing the better job. Plain and simple. If the most recent efforts, over the past five years were not good enough, then say that. But now that this problem has been brought to light again, it’s not time to point fingers. It’s PASTTT time to fix it. Some people need to go to jail, get fined, animal control might need more manpower to work day and night shifts, an aggressive spaying and neutering programme needs to be implemented, maybe public service announcements ( or public education programme) needs to be aired on radio, television and published in newspapers so that people can know of a number that they can call when they see a strays in their areas, or of neighbours who are non-compliant with the law etc. But this is not the time to point fingers anywhere. Give the man, i.e. Mr. Gray, a chance to do his job.

    1. Thank you for your comments. I appreciate the excellent work you’ve done bringing this problem to the public’s attention. I certainly do not blame Mr Gray (or Mr Wilchcombe) for the problem, but they had three years in office after they made those statements… and the problem only grew worse. That’s not being political, it’s being honest. I am not really big on this second chance stuff. If someone doesn’t do their job the first time, it’s unlikely they’ll do it if given a second chance. We’ll see. I’d love to be proven wrong on this one.

    2. It is time that abusers be dealt with. But the government it really at fault. Does the public know how cruel the pound is and how they EXECUTE the strays. It is time that people, including the world finds out.

      So, first, there needs to be laws to license and neuter animals if you want them. No BRIBING the enforcers.

      Then the government needs to have HUMANE methods of dealing with strays. Stop acting like this is some BARBARIC place.

  7. The mostly NGO’s who try to help with this endless problem are to be congratulated as they do it at their peril and with little encouragement, much less support, from our government. Calling out politicians for their empty promises and past records on the stray dog problem may help to embarrass them into some sort of action but short of that and a grass roots movement, I don’t know what will work. It is truly one of our many exercises in frustration such as; trying to get gov’t. to move on the pollution pouring from BEC’s stacks and the oil spills and slicks on land and sea at Clifton Pier, the dump, the destruction of what few remaining patches of indigenous forests and wetlands we have remaining on N.P…etc.etc.etc.

  8. I was reluctant to comment as this problem comes up….and then gradually dies down. There’s a lot of TALK and not much action.

    I couldn’t walk around my own neighbourhood for years for the mere fact that residents in close proximity refuse to secure their dogs & when they see THEIR dogs attacking you, they just stand there and watch.

    Another factor that really pisses me off is when other people’s dog come in your yard to S*#T!! We need a clean society; Not a society where you are bound to step in S*#T when you go to a park or the beach!!!!

    People claim that potcakes don’t attack. I hope people can remember the very tragic story of a young woman (off Kemp Rd.) who was bitten to death by potcakes. When EMS arrived, they found the pack of dogs still knawing at the woman’s lifeless body. The owner of the dogs claimed that they were “strays” but when reporters arrived to interview the owner…the dogs had mysteriously disappeared.

    NOBODY seems to want responsibilty. The Humane Society says they are not responsible for capturing strays and that the Canine Unite of RBPF is responsible for this. I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WE HAD A CANINE UNIT. Which is understandable since the stray problem is just THAT…STILL A PROBLEM.

    THANK YOU LORD for the Humane Society’s OPERATION POTCAKE. They are doing a GREAT job in spaying and neutering these pets. If the Canine Unite WOULD DO THEIR PART and unite with the Humane Society, we would be surprised of the end result to this ongoing nuisance.

    Canine Unit of The Royal Bahamas Police Force, step out of the canteen for a while and please do your job!!!

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