A dog burnt by scalding water … another with knife wounds … and yet another disposed of, jaw-broken, in a dustbin.
Superintendent Simon Osborne, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) said he made no apology for these harrowing images of animal cruelty.
In a slide show presentation yesterday, he said: “I think it’s important to realise the reality of frontline animal welfare work.”
Mr Osborne educated the public on the role the RSPCA has in the UK with enforcing legislation and highlighted the links animal cruelty has with human mental health.
US researchers believe that 40 per cent of animal abusers have committed crimes again people, he told the audience at the SPCA Education Centre in Paget. He added that there are “definite links” between abuse of animals and domestic abuse and studies that show that children who have been cruel to animals are often victims of cruelty themselves.
With this knowledge the charity has formed a relationship with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) to alert it to any similar mistreatment in its jurisdiction.
The liaison works both ways and RSPCA has now made a 24-hour control number available to the NSPCC.
Mr Osborne joined the RSPCA in 1997 and is on the Island to help the Bermuda SPCA with the recruitment of a full-time, qualified inspector and strengthen the Island’s educational programmes.
Deborah Titterton Narraway, SPCA’s executive director, said: “Having an inspector on-Island will aid the charity through lawful means to prevent cruelty, promote kindness to and alleviate suffering of all animals.
“The inspector will also assist the shelter in strengthening the current animal care and enrichment programmes and provide guidance and learning opportunities for the Bermuda SPCA’s team of staff and volunteers.”
A board member, who wished to remain anonymous, sponsored his trip. It is hoped a new inspector will arrive in June.
While many of the issues the RSPCA faces are not applicable to Bermuda — such as exotic pets and puppy farms — “a lot of our issues are mirrored from what they see in England and Wales,” Ms Titterton-Narrawya said.
For example, Bermuda’s growing feline population.
Mr Osborne said that RSPCA concerns lie not only with an animal’s physical suffering, but also its mental suffering.
He outlined several welfare needs, including a suitable living environment, a suitable diet, and the animal’s ability to exhibit normal behaviour patterns. He also said animals must be protected from pain, suffering and illness.
Mr Osborne revealed data that found more than 70 per cent of the children removed from their homes as a result of the RSPCA inspectors are similarly neglected.
Ms Sarah Haycock-Tafur, president of the SPCA, said: “this ongoing relationship is a fantastic thing for us. We’ve done an awful lot to try and get close to this standard.”
Relationships have now been formed with local charities Family Centre and Centre of Abuse.
“A big area for us is getting the inspector and getting prosecutions,” she said.
Mr Osborne told The Royal Gazette: “It’s all about education.”
He said Bermuda was in a very “unique” position as such a small, close-knit community.
“The best advice I can give is they should be contacting an organisation like the SPCA who have got the welfare of the animal in mind. We’ve got the ability currently to send someone out to assess the situation and educate.”
Ms Titterton-Narraway said: “When we go out we do our best to speak to an owner or operator.
“If they’re not there we do leave a calling card. We list what we believe are the concerns or endangerment for the animal and most times they call us back voluntarily and are happy to talk it through.
“Now I’m not saying change happens the next day or the next week, but it’s the start of that much longer process. It’s building that relationship and obviously if change doesn’t happen, getting other agencies involved and once our inspector is here being able to build that case and take it to the next step.”
By Nadia Hall The Royal Gazette