If You Love Dogs
In the four years since the V.I. Legislature passed a bill making cruelty to animals illegal and setting strict punishments for the offence, residents have been reluctant to come forward and report the crime - but that should soon change thanks to one resident.
Long-time resident and wedding officiate, famous as the island's Barefoot Minister, Anne Marie Porter is stepping up to the plate and filling the gap between the public and official action.
Before Porter got involved, many residents were reluctant to take the dogs themselves and didn't know who to call or what to do, explained Animal Care Center board of directors member Bonny Corbeil.
Bun now residents only have to call the ACC and report the incident and Porter will take care of the rest. Residents can also rest assured their identies will not be requested, explained Porter
Not Many Questions Asked
" My intention is to encourage people to report animal abuse or neglect to the ACC as soon as they see it," said Porter. "All phone calls are anonymous. The shelter does not ask the caller's name, just the location of the animal that needs help."
Once the location of the dog in need is determined, Porter contacts law enforcement officials and does the leg work to remove the animal. By offering her assistance to the public, Porter hopes to encourage more residents to report cases of animal abuse more quickly, she explained.
The minister recently rescued three dogs in two separate incidents. Each of the dogs had been tied up for extended periods of time and left without food or water.
None of the dogs were left in remote areas, according to Porter
Get to know the Neighbors
"One dog was tied up in a neighborhood," she said. "People lived all around this helpless being and it went day after day with no food, no water, no shelter, no attention."
Two of the dogs were chained up in a yard on Centerline Road and Porter wasn't the only one who saw them, she explained.
"Two dogs rescued a week earlier in equally horrible condition, were chained up in the front yard of a house on Centerline Road, in Coral Bay," said Porter. "Everyone entering or leaving Coral Bay drove by these starving, thirsty, lonely beings."
Unfortunately it was too late for the dogs. All three of them were beyond medical treatment and were euthanized, according to ACC officials.
This is not the first time Porter has helped the ACC, Corbeil explained.
"Anne Marie Porter has been consistently dedicated to St. John animal abuse issues for a number of decades now," said Corbeil. "She started bringing in the Humane Society material in helping with our issues long before we had access to the Internet."
Porter was also the founder of the island's Kindness Club, which conducted a series of workshops at the island's elementary schools emphasizing compassion, Corbeil added.
"Anne Marie purchased subscriptions for every teacher, at one time, to receive Kindness (Kids In Nature's Defense) News' which includes fun work sheets and animal information whose theme and goal is to promote kindness towards people, animals and the environment with an emphasis on good character development, such as fairness, compassion and respect," said Corbeil. "She has also used much of her own personal funds for years to support animal adoption pictures with the former Animals of the Week."
Porter was also actively involved with getting the territory's animal abuse legislation passed in the first place, according to Corbeil.
"Anne Marie attended every legislative hearing and worked tirelessly with other animal shelters on the islands for animal advocacy." she said.
Putting someone in the public on behalf of the island's abused and neglected animals is much needed, explained Corbeil.
"What Anne Marie is doing now if filling a much needed gap for our ACC and our escalating needs, financially as well as physically," Corbeil said. "What people need to understand is that when animals are abused like this, the entire community - the abused animals and the abuser - are all impacted. Animal abuse becomes a part of the 'circle of violence' we must break.
"Anne Marie has never stopped working for this cause," Corbeil added.
With Porter putting herself out there as a contact to report animal abuse, the hope is to get to the animals faster and save their lives.
"Save a Life"
"If everyone will just be aware of the dogs in their immediate environment and make a phone call, so much suffering can be prevented," said Porter. "If you see a dog tied up without adequate food and water and shelter, or confined to the same space day after day without being walked or cared for, make a call. Save a life."
Anyone who sees a dog being abused or neglected should call the ACC at 774-1625 and report the location of the animal.
Letters to St John Tradewinds October 1-7, 2007
Is Recent Animal Abuse by Children of Abusers?
The St. John children recently seen abusing the iguana at the Pine Peace School basketball court (Tradewinds Sept. 3-16, page 24) or throwing the kitten in the ocean at Oppenheimer Beach and gleefully laughing at its mother's desperate attempts to save her baby, are St. John children.
Could these be the same kids who sliced puppies' ears off and tossed their agonizing bodies into a Centerline Road dumpster? Are these the boys who stabbed the kitten's eyes out or hung a dog in Coral Bay?
Are these the sadists who torture, beat and razor blade the ears of pit bulls to ":make dem mean?" Could these be the ones who have chained up so many dogs, without water or food, to die slowly and painfully in our scorching sun?
Wait! No it couldn't be the same kids. All those atrocities happened on St. John 10 to 20 years ago. The cruel little ones stoning the iguana at the basketball court last week and drowning the kitten at the beach last month must be the children of those abusers.
-- Anne Marie Porter
The Daily News, February 14th, 2009
A Cruel Message
It is the innocent who suffer most from cruelty and injustice.
In the first animal abuse case to come to trial in the U.S. Virgin Islands, it was innocent children who watched a dog being tied to a tree and viciously beaten with a nail-embedded board.
It was innocent, frightened kids who say a nail slam into Max's eye and the next blow smash into his skull.
It was innocent, kind children who, the day after the torture, took the still breathing animal to the St. Croix Animal Welfare Center.
It was an innocent, courageous child who testified at the trial as to what he had witnessed. And it was innocent, frightened, kind courageous children who learned from the adults: NOT GUILTY.
-- The Rev. Anne Marie Porter, St. John
St John Tradewinds March 16, 2009
Cruelty Affects the Community
Deep blood gushes from nail
-- Anne Marie Porter
St John Tradewinds April 6, 2009
Teaching Our Children
Shrill yips of pain become
moans of agony
-- Anne Marie Porter