Dogs join praedial thieves in frustrating St James farmers
At least two of the 2,666 registered farmers in the hills of southern St James said the vexed issue of praedial larceny has taken on a new face, with dogs joining praedial thieves in robbing them of livestock and preventing them from enjoying the fruits of their labour.
“If you have 10 or 20 goats in the pen, when you go out in the mornings, you see all of them dead. They (the dogs) tear down the pen and kill them off. This is frustration and killing the interest of farmers,” said goat farmer Michael Shaw in an interview with The Gleaner.
“Every holiday I was able to kill a goat and me and my grandchildren would eat a nice meal, but this year (Christmas 2019) we could not do that because the dogs killed them off,” said Shaw.
“Right now, they kill off the goats and them tear down fowl coop and eat off the people them chicken. Now they [the dogs] start to attack our cows. When the cows have calves, farmers have to be watching them like how they watch out for the goats, because they will kill the young calves,” said Shaw.
According to him, many farmers have lost their cows to the dogs in the communities of Tangle River, Flagstaff and Maroon Town. He said, in some cases, the cows end up hanging themselves in trying to fend off the dogs.
“The owners of these dogs are not standing up to compensate farmers for their loss. We are suffering from these deadly attacks by dogs for years and we not getting any attention from any side. We are forced to suffer and bear our losses,” added Shaw.
In showing support for Shaw’s claim, Dennis Pearson, his farming colleague, is suggesting that farmers should be compensated by the State to recoup those funds, in the cases where thieves are caught and sent to prison.
“I want the Government to pay the farmer for his produce, and make the man [the thief] work for the State and pay back the money paid out to the farmer,” said Pearson.
He also lamented the length of time it takes for cases against praedial thieves to be settled in the Parish Courts, where cases often linger for a long time in which the farmers get no compensation.
“When a man thief your cow, the Government gives them five or six years in prison ... that doesn’t help the farmer. The farmer still loses him livestock and ground provision, and don’t get no compensation,” said Pearson.