To the disappointment of animal protection campaigners, Chief Magistrate Ian Weeks of the Supreme Court 5 of Barbados sentenced Davino Howard to 12 months probation for the three charges of withholding information from police, failure to obtain a licence for a dog over the age of six months and cruelty to animals. Lalu Hanuman, the lawyer for the animal protection campaigners that supported the prosecution, appealed to the chief magistrate for a custodial sentencing of one-year imprisonment or a fine of $1,000, but he did not get it.
On 13th September 2022, Howard was captured on video with his companion dog at Pebbles Beach, St Michael, where the dog drowned. Debbie Funk from K9 Friends, Dorian Boyce of Woodbourne Boarding Kennels and Lavern Beresford had witnessed the incident. On 17th January, when questioned by the chief magistrate, Howard said that he did not drown the dog, but he was found guilty of the three charges mentioned.
Hanuman said to Loop News: “The Government is talking about changing the law so much that the fine is raised to $100,000 and of course that has made some people very excited, but even the limited $1,000 which it is currently at, is not being implemented, so it being $1 million doesn’t make any difference. What we need is the legislation that currently exists to be implemented and I am quite disheartened that nothing was done further than his previous sentence for the giving of false information to the police or rather withholding information for the police and not having a dog licence. Nothing was added to him given his conviction. He admitted to it and he was convicted and he got nothing out of it. So, in fact, it was a zero sentence.”
Lavern Beresford, one of the animal protection advocates that was an eyewitness to the incident, was disappointed by the court’s leniency and the comments made by the chief magistrate. She said: “The mere fact that the statement kept being reiterated that human life is above all animal life, speaks volumes. Every life matters not just humans and when we fail to punish people for being cruel to animals, that is where we have gone wrong in society.”