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Friday, July 19, 2024


July 29, 2002 – A pack of wild dogs got into Lionel Roberts Stadium early Friday morning and killed four performing peacocks from the Suarez Brothers Circus, which has been performing on St. Thomas since last week, along with three of the circus's pigeons.
Jan Swenson, who went to the circus, described the birds' act. "The peacocks each had a little perch. On cue, they would fly to a wheel, where two of them would make the wheel go around – like mice do. There were about six or seven of them. It was a very short act."
"I remember thinking as I watched them," said Swenson, "that it takes a long time to train a bird."
The circus was not allowed to bring its polar bears here. The V.I. government said large carnivores could not be permitted in the territory, but the underlying reason was that national animal rights groups and local citizens protested bringing the bears to a tropical climate.
Hubert Brumant, manager of the St. Thomas Humane Society, has had no funds to pick up the dog packs and strays that freely rove the island and are frequently reported, though the government has promised money to pay for manpower to round up the animals.
Government funding for the territory's three animal shelters was appropriated by the Legislature last October, and Gov. Charles W. Turnbull said the shelters received the money in February, but it has remained elusive, bogged down in a bureaucratic wonderland until two weeks ago, Joe Aubain, the Humane Society's president, said Tuesday afternoon.
"We finally received one-quarter of the $75,000 about two weeks ago," Aubain confirmed.
The animal protection agencies struggle to get by on private donations, fund-raising activities and limited grants. None of the agencies had received a dime from this administration until two weeks ago. They received funding last year, but Brumant has said those funds were appropriated in 1999, under Gov. Roy Schneider's administration.
The Legislature appropriated $160,000 in the FY 2002 budget more than nine months ago to fund the three shelters — $75,000 each for the St. Thomas and St. Croix shelters and $10,000 for the St. John Animal Center.
According to a press release from Deputy Police Chief Theodore Carty, a report filed by a member of the Suarez Circus on Friday said a witness stated she heard dogs barking and then leaving the Lionel Roberts Stadium, after attacking seven birds and killing them.
Carty said the circus manager reported seven birds "destroyed" by the wild dogs. The birds had been placed in an outer cage overnight.
Caswil Callender, executive director of the St. Thomas Carnival Committee, which arranged for the circus as part of the committee's 50th anniversary celebration, said Tuesday, "It is very distressing, especially since there's been so much talk about inhumane treatment of animals."
He said the dogs crawled under a locked back gate to get into the stadium.
Callender said he had talked with circus personnel and was trying Tuesday to contact Raoul Suarez, an owner.
It is not known what the circus is planning to do about the destruction of its birds. Repeated attempts to reach Suarez were unsuccessful.
In an unrelated incident Tuesday, a Bovoni man reported that his dog, a collie, had been attacked and killed by his neighbor's pit bull. The Bovoni man told police the pit bull had entered his yard behind his car, as he drove in, and attacked his dog.
"Although the owner of the deceased dog was advised to file a case at Small Claims Court, the matter will be referred out to the Humane Society for further investigations," Carty said in a press release.

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