DOG OWNER CRIES FOUL - Tourist heartbroken after animal is poisoned
While strolling on a beach in Portland last year, Vernise Cardillo, an American who has a house in the tranquil eastern parish, came across a young mongrel which she rescued and named Pepah.
"I found her at Frenchman's Cove and she kept coming over to me and she was so cheerful. I asked the waiter there whose dog was it and she said she just comes around from time to time, but she doesn't really have a owner. That's when I said I have to take her and I just tossed her in the car because I knew she was a special dog," the tourist said.
Cardillo kept the animal at her place - a holiday home she owns - in Long Bay. They bonded well and were often seen enjoying each other's company in the coastal community. But the relationship ended prematurely last week when Pepah died.
Cardillo is convinced that the dog was poisoned.
"I notice a change in her attitude because she was always jumping and happy. But I realised she was very down-spirited and sulky, then about two days after she died," the heartbroken woman said.
"I'm very devastated because I learnt that she was poisoned and as I spoke to neighbours, I realise that it is a common practice in Jamaica that people buy this terrible poison called Gramoxone and poison dogs."
Gramoxone is a herbicide which is widely available. The Jamaica Veterinary Medical Association said it is also one of, if not the most common, poisonings that occur in dogs.
Cardillo said she understands that some persons poison dogs that may have trespassed on their properties. Dogs are likely to be poisoned if they are deemed to be involved in the killing of livestock such as goats.
Cardillo finds the poisoning of dogs to be cruel.
"Dogs are creatures of God and my dog was innocent, so I don't know why someone would kill her. ... She is always on my premises so maybe that day she choose to stroll on the road, but she wasn't doing any harm."
Dog owners have a legal responsibility to ensure that their animals do not pose a danger to members of the public. There have been several cases of persons suffering debilitating injuries, and even death, as a result of dog attacks. Acknowledging the potential danger posed by dogs that are not properly secured, Parliament last year passed a law that makes owners of dogs liable for civil and criminal actions in the event of attacks.
Cardillo said that Pepah was kind and gentle and wouldn't harm anyone or anything. "So it pains me to see her go like that. I tried to help her but it was too late, and I had to watch my precious dog suffered to her last breath."
"People are telling me that I'm supposed to keep my dog locked up, but I'm a tourist I didn't know all this, and besides it shouldn't be that your dog is gonna walk down the road and get poisoned," she told THE STAR.
"I want people to understand that it is cruel to kills dogs. People can call the JSPCA (Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) but killing is not the answer, and it appears to be a normal practice in Jamaica which is disgusting."
Reminiscing on the memories she shared with Pepah, Cardillo said they had some great times. She is seeking some form of justice for her animal and others that have suffered similar fate.
"I used to ride my bicycle around with her and we were so loving. Everybody knew us," she told THE STAR. "I've just been crying and I need some form of equal rights for these dogs. I plan to give out some flyers and so on to bring attention to this terrible issue."
Cardillo plans to have Pepah's remains cremated tomorrow. She said that her ashes would be scattered along the beach in Long Bay where they met.