JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Members of the local association are appealing to the government to amend the various outdated laws to ensure the adequate care and protection of animals.
  • Local professionals have been working towards improving animal health and welfare by way of available tools.
  • World Veterinary Day is being celebrated this year under the theme ‘Animal Welfare’.

As Jamaican veterinarians get ready to mark World Veterinary Day on April 29, members of the local association are appealing to the government to amend the various outdated laws to ensure the adequate care and protection of animals.

President of the Jamaica Veterinary Medical Association (JVMA), Dr. Robert Thomas, said local professionals have been working towards improving animal health and welfare by way of available tools such as advocacy, scientific research, and lobbying to enact appropriate legislation.

He noted however, that while members of the association are proud of the significant contribution they are making to the agricultural sector, legislative changes are necessary to adequately ensure proper animal welfare.

“Explicit legislation must be enacted to address responsible animal ownership, handling of dangerous animals, the availability of drugs to eliminate and/or prevent animal suffering,” he said.
Dr. Thomas informed that there is no specific individual animal welfare legislation in Jamaica, however, several related pieces of legislations were enacted which provide some protection.

The JVMA head, who was addressing a JIS Think Tank session recently, explained that Acts such as the Dogs Liability for Injury Act of 1877 has never been amended; and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act 1904, which seeks to protect animals from cruelty and abuse and which outlaws dog and cock fighting, was last amended in 1995. This was done primarily to increase the fine for a breach to $1,000.

He noted that guidelines for ensuring proper animal welfare are summed up in “the five freedoms of animal welfare”. These include the freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom to express normal behavior; freedom from fear; and freedom from pain, injury and disease.

World Veterinary Day, which is being celebrated this year under the theme ‘Animal Welfare’, is aimed at bringing the importance of the veterinary profession to the general public by underlining the vital role they play in ensuring animal health and welfare, food safety, food security, safe world trade in animals and animal products, as well as in protecting public health.

On Tuesday, April 29 the World Veterinary Association will host a Free Global Webinar titled ‘Veterinary Leadership Empowering tools for Vets in the field of Animal Welfare’ from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time; and from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time. For further information persons may visit the JVMA website at http://www.jvma.org/

The Jamaica Veterinary Association was founded in 1946 by a small group of veterinary professionals working in Jamaica. The name was later changed in 1984 to the Jamaica Veterinary Medical Association. To date some 205 veterinarians have been registered to practice in the island, but currently only 90 are practicing.