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Animal abuse happens weekly

Protecting vulnerable: Inspector Chris Coleman

Cases of abuse towards animals are reported on a weekly basis, according to the Bermuda Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Inspector Chris Coleman spoke about animal abuse on the island, its relation to violence with people, the SPCA’s role and animal welfare legislation at the Hamilton Rotary Club yesterday.

“We do get allegations every week and we can only investigate what is reported to us,” she told The Royal Gazette.

The SPCA is the island’s only animal welfare charity and aims to provide effective and lawful means for the prevention of cruelty to animals, promote the education of the public on the care and wellbeing of all animals, and encourage and promote kindness to animals.

“What the SPCA does is provide shelter for unwanted animals and help rehome them through adoption,” Ms Coleman explained.

“We also investigate cruelty and will prosecute cases of neglect if they are against the law.

“And we educate the community about animal welfare and do camps throughout the year for children and school talks.” The registered charity also provides a lost and found service for animals, as well as a 24 hour emergency hotline.

“If it’s an emergency, it is generally a life and death situation at that time.”

According to Ms Coleman, whose primary role is to inspect allegations of cruelty, animals are brought to the SPCA for a variety of reason.

“Being in Bermuda there is the unique situation where quite often people need to get off the island for one reason or another and can’t always take their animals with them and that’s a pretty unique situation here. And then there’s the standard situations we get everywhere, where people are quite superficial at times and materialistic and they may just want to change their furnishings and all of a sudden the dog is the wrong colour and the hair is the wrong colour, or they want to trade it in for another model because it is not a young puppy any more.”

Others come to the charity as abuse cases.

Ms Coleman stressed that people “generally are aware if an animal is not being treated right” but she urged the public to contact the charity should they have concerns.

“Please do get in touch with us because if we’re not aware of an incident, we’re not going to investigate it.”

Ms Coleman also emphasised that the basis of all animal legislation was based on the five freedoms of freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury and disease, freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from fear and distress.

“All animal welfare legislation, wherever it is, is based on these five freedoms,” Ms Coleman said.

“It applies to everything, whether it’s a horse, a dog, a cat or a pet rat.”