St Ann woman heartbroken after dogs kill 50 of 178 chickensFriday, September 17, 2021
BY AKERA DAVIS
OCHO RIOS, St Ann — It was almost too much for 24-year-old Akeba Martin to bear. In the early hours of Wednesday morning dogs found their way into her chicken coop and slaughtered 50 of the 178 birds, whose eggs she had planned to sell to put food on her table.
“When me see the dead chickens me have to just take couple deep breath to contain myself. Me just feel depressed because nuh matter how me try to help myself in life there is always something to come and mash up whatever it is,” the Murray Mountain resident cried when the Jamaica Observer visited later that day.
The former teacher of agriculture has been without a job since February and had turned to rearing laying hens to earn a living. She had invested all her savings into getting the business off the ground, she said, and she had been hoping that it would flourish over time.
“Me pay how much money for the chickens, the material to build the coop, the labourers that I paid plus to buy seven bags of feed for them every week is a lot,” she bemoaned. “I wasn't expecting nothing like this, I didn't even get to have the chicken for a year to make back some of the money; and the eggs are already not selling enough. This is just a lot to deal with.”
It was her grandmother Coleta Neverson, on whose land the coop is built, who alerted her at about 4:30 am that something was wrong. The dogs made three holes through which they entered the enclosure. Her grandmother chased them off and managed to hit one with a stone.
“What hurts the most is that nobody wants to take ownership for the dogs. I know who the dogs belong to and when I go to them they are going to say the dogs are stray [animals]. They refuse to chain up the dogs and take responsibility so they must pay,” she said. “This feels worse than praedial larceny because if it was someone who stole them at least it is human who would be benefiting.”
Under the Dog (Liability for Attacks) Act of 2020, dog owners may be charged with a criminal offence punishable by fine of up to $500,000 or up to six months imprisonment once it is proven that their animal is a menace or has caused damage in any place other than the premises where the dog lives. The challenge, though, is often in determining who owns the animals.
Martin, who graduated college in 2018 with a bachelor's degree in agro-production and food system management, said she has a passion for agriculture but this setback is a lot to bear.
“I love agri and caring for my chickens was one of the best thing [for me to do] but stuff like these will push you to give up. [Sadly], it is the norm in Jamaica for someone [else's] animal to destroy farms and kill other animals. But it is not something that we can deal with because we are losing a lot,” she lamented.