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Life in Jamaica is hard for people and equally for animals, says Pamela Lawson, Managing Director of the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA).

Lawson said that the charity organization is seeing better days in regards to the public’s perception, but there is still a wanton disregard for animals in the island.

“Earlier in our history, it used to be dreadful. Jamaica was not always known for her compassion towards animals, but in the early 2000’s there was a shift,” Lawson said.

She pointed out that the attitudes of people have got a lot better and that persons are finding more comfort in having an animal as a companion at home.

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Lawson also said that people were generally taking more interest in the welfare of their animals.

The JSPCA head also figures that the state of Jamaica’s animal welfare may have an indirect effect on the tourists’ perception of how animals are treated in Jamaica.

“When our tourists come here and see stray animals roaming the roads or horses just tied up of seen wandering the North Coast – it upsets them,” she said.

Lawson told Loop News that dogs, followed by cats and horses are the most at risk in Jamaica.

There were cases when the JSPCA discovered that after their time, some racehorse owners simply open their gates and let the horses out, where they wander the streets of Portmore and Spanish Town, she said.

Lawson said she has seen thousands of cases where animals have been chopped, poisoned, shot, burned, crushed – and one case where a dog was found almost entirely encased in tar.

“When we found him, only his head was showing and the tar already began to harden. We didn’t even know how to put him down because we couldn’t get him out. Someone thought it funny to just throw him in a drum of hot tar,” said Lawson.

“If you travel the Port Royal main road, you’ll see dogs of every type, as people drive out there, open their car doors and dump them. That’s a reality, it’s what we face everyday,” she added.

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She added: “This kind of behavior is not endemic to just Jamaica, people around the world have become cold – they just don’t care anymore.”

She says that in spite of all the challenges the JSPCA faces, the charity has taken steps to mitigate problem.

“We advise people, even if the animals are in terrible condition we say – ‘no matter what, if you don’t want the animal, just bring it here,” Lawson said.