ST JOHN’S, Antigua – As residents continue to complain about stray animals becoming a menace in the villages and the city, manager of the abattoir Charlesworth Grant has called on authorities to re-create a task force to specifically address the growing problem.
The official, who works within the ministry of agriculture, said such a department existed up until about five years ago when government decided to disband it.
“We used to pick up the stray animals and we had a unit that used to do that. But when government decided to downsize the amount of people working for them that was the first unit to go, but we need it. The vehicles the department … used to round up the animals are still there and they are not being used because we do not have the manpower now,” Grant stated.
The official said there is a need for at least five individuals to staff the unit to get the current situation under control.
Grant also said authorities have been receiving complaints on a weekly basis that the animals, particularly horses, goats and dogs, are left to roam and to trespass and damage private property, while they are also left to wander along the main roads thus posing threats to road users.
He said the main areas of concern are Sutherlands, Cassada Gardens, Pares, the Sounds area, and Old Parham Road. Other hot spots according to residents are Potters, Pigott’s, Big Creek, and along Friar’s Hill Road.
Recently, Agriculture Minister Hilson Baptiste said the department is willing to go as far as imposing fines on farmers who allow their animals to roam.
The minister said farmers are being given the option to rent land from government for $10 an acre for one year and they should take advantage of the offer rather than letting the animals roam.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)