On June 7, the manager Animal Care Center of the St. John was called by the V.I. Police Department to assist in Coral Bay. She accompanied Officer Huggins, and representatives of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Public Works, Waste Management, Anti-Litter and Beautification and a veterinarian from Canines, Cats and Critters to the site of alleged trespass where numerous animals were being held.
Agriculture took the sheep and goats, and the ACC took seven kittens, two cats and a dog. The cats were in cages exposed to the rain, the kittens were also in exposed cages and all were suffering from Coccidia — a protozoal parasitic condition which results from drinking unsanitary water. The dog was chained and tied to a cassia tree, all the fur was abraded from around his neck where the chain had rubbed. He suffered from mange around his eyes, hookworm, tapeworm, roundworm and heartworm.
It is the ACC’s job to protect animals. The V.I. Senate passed a law in 2005 which defines animal neglect in the first degree and in the second degree very clearly — people are not allowed to cause physical injury or needless suffering to an animal. They are required to provide adequate care. Not to do so is either a felony or a misdemeanor.
The animals seized by the ACC have indeed experienced needless suffering, and there is no question that heartworm infestation — which involves undergoing treatment with arsenic — constitutes serious physical injury. Yet, it was our Board of Directors’ decision not to prosecute under the 2005 Animal Cruelty Act, but instead to return the adult female cat (after she was spayed) and the un-neutered male cat to the Greauxs. We felt they would be able to care for two animals. The decision not to return the dog and the kittens was based on their poor condition and the fact the Greauxs were unable to show they had a place to live within the subsequent 30 days. In addition, the two month treatment for heartworm involves keeping the dog confined and quiet, and being chained up somewhere on guard duty doesn’t qualify.
The St. John Animal Care Center is an advocate for the animals who can’t speak for themselves. We are grateful for the community which supports this effort and contacts us if negligence or abuse is seen.
Thank you for your support,
B. J. Harris, President
St. John Animal Care Center