THE LEGAL CASE CONCERNING HERCULES
ALL CREATURES plays a vital role in the prosecution of animal welfare offenders in Malawi. Primarily, we work hand in hand with the police and the courts to bring perpetrators to justice. It is on this premise that ALL CREATURES came to be involved in the prosecution case against the owners of Hercules, a beautiful white affectionate German shepherd. Every animal deserves the best life possible and where human beings are a hindrance to this basic right, action must be taken against them to first of educate them about the ills of their conduct and also to serve as a deterrent to other people who are in the habit of ill-treating animals.
In November 2016, when news from concerned parties reached ALL CREATURES of a dog who was being neglected in Area47, one of Lilongwe’s high-end suburbs, ALL CREATURES immediately rushed to evaluate the extent to which the said dog was ill-treated. Our assessment determined at once that the conditions under which the dog was living were far below par and it was really amazing how they could be so cruel to such an affectionate and innocent animal. It seemed like Hercules had gone months without a cleaned plate, a body wash and any decent care. He was full of foul smelling dreadlocks. Fed on an assortments of traditional Chinese table scraps on an uncleaned plated squeezed in a 1 x 1 x 1 uncleaned squalid cage greatly hampered both his health and normal mental development.
Subsequently, another inspection was done by Dr. Delphine Rwemalika, the Animal Resource Centre manager, along with Remmie Lasanc who was volunteering with ALL CREATURES at the time. Delphine found Hercules tethered to a pole on a very short leash and did not have access to fresh water. Again, there were a lot of faeces, showing that the place wasn’t regularly cleaned. The owners were asked to provide longer leashes and allow the dogs to access to fresh water at all times On the 29th of November another inspection was done to check if the owners had obliged to the requirements but nothing had been done.
Following a second complaint, our team and a police officer went back to the premises on the 5th of December, and the dog still didn’t have access to fresh water and was still tied on a short leash in a dirty environment.On the 2nd of March, the Manager accompanied by police went back, this time with a court order to confiscate the dog. The situation had worsened. Hercules was kept in a very dirty small cage. The floor was covered by faeces and mouldy food and there were a lot of flies around. Despite the cage being outside, the smell coming from it was unbearable.
After seeing the horrible conditions in which this dog was kept, we decided that, for his welfare, the best thing to do was to confiscate him and bring him back to the Animal Resources Centre . The owners of the dog became aggressive towards the team that had gone to the premises. They grabbed the leash we had put on the dog, in an attempt to stop the team from taking the dog as they didn’t want to let them go despite the court order that had been presented to them and also despite the presence of the two police officers.
After a long discussion the team finally managed to put the dog in the car and brought him to the clinic once there, Hercules was examined, he was bright, active and responsive but he was dehydrated, severely matted, and also he was very dirty and smelly because he was covered in feces. He was given fresh water and medical treatment. Court proceedings ensued, and the court’s judgement declared that Hercules my only be returned to the owners upon the satisfactory fulfillment of the recommendations provided by ALL CREATURES in collaboration with the government vet Dr MacDonald went for further inspections of the premises and found it to be unsatisfactory on two occasions over a period of a month. On the final occasion, the magistrate, Dr. Delphine, Dr. MacDonald (from Vet Department) and a police officer went to inspect the premises after which the magistrate passed his judgement; he ordered that Hercules’ owners be given 7 days to fix any out-standing issues after-which ALL CREATURES was to hand Hercules back to them, and so it was.
It was clear to us that Hercules, who is a wonderful dog that loves to play and enjoys being lavished with attention may not get the kind of attention that he got while he was with us. Nevertheless, we happy to see that the owners of the dog had finally understood all they had to do to keep Hercules healthy and so they cleaned up the environment and made him a bigger enclosure which gives him enough room to play around and expend his energy, in the end what matters is that Hercules is happier and is living in much better conditions than before