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UWI Mona’s Dog Squabbles

UWI Mona’s Dog Squabbles

There has long been an eviction squabble between The University of the West Indies and the stray dogs occupying the Mona Campus. As early as the second month of its establishment, the University’s administrators were forced to implement policies to limit the number of dogs on the Campus. Outlined in the Provisional Senate’s meeting minutes of November 18, 1948 (ref. UC-BC-11), are the rules governing the “Control of Dogs” on the campus. The policy stipulates that: 

(i) All dogs kept on University College grounds must be registered with the Registrar’s Department. The Register will contain a description of each animal and the name of the owner responsible for it.

(ii) Every such dog must wear a collar.

(iii) The non-graduate staff will be permitted to keep dogs only by written permission from the Registrar.

Undergraduates will not be allowed to keep dogs.

(iv) The owners of dogs will be responsible for keeping their dogs under proper control. If a dog becomes a nuisance on grounds of noise, vagrancy, or viciousness, the owner may be required to remove it from the University College grounds.

(v) Stray dogs are liable to destruction.

Mary Seacole Hall’s opening ceremony, 1958

Despite efforts to rid the campus of the unwanted tenants, a variety of canines have continued to reside on the Mona campus. They roam the compound freely and carry out daring assaults on members of the University community. Even the dogs authorized to be on the Campus behave atrociously at times. During the opening ceremony of Mary Seacole Hall on Tuesday, February 25, 1958, four dogs created a scene by fighting over the train of Chancellor Princess Alice’s ceremonial robe. According to a Gleaner report, whilst awaiting the arrival of Governor General, Lord Hailes and his wife, a hound and a terrier developed an interest in the Chancellor’s train and started fighting over its possession. Two mongrels on site caught wind of what was going on and decided to join the disturbance. In an effort to rescue the Princess’ train, some UCWI officials including the then Vice-Chancellor, Sir Arthur Lewis, and Principal Dr. Walter Grave tried to fend off the dogs but their efforts were futile. It was a police constable who valiantly saved the Princess’ train from the presumptuous beasts.

Photo of a dog under a gazebo near to Beehive Restaurant on Mona Campus, 2022

One would assume that this mayhem created by The U(C)WI’s unwanted tenants would have led to the total eradication of dogs from the campus. The recurring evidence of circulars and forums regarding the presence of dogs and other stray animals on the Campus over the years highlights the futility of the Administration’s effort. At The UWI Animal Awareness Day panel discussion in 2004, The UWI Head of Security, Mr.Lucien Tai Tenn Quee, noted that though it is forbidden, over the years the campus has been home to several stray and owned animals such as goats, cows, pigs, donkeys, horses, cats, dogs and sheep. Many of the animals are owned by members of the neighbouring communities. While there are a few reports of dogs attacking persons on the campus, the animals have caused extensive damage to University property and pose a risk to drivers on the campus.

Photo of a cat at Beehive Restaurant on Mona Campus, 2022

A key policy approach is to capture and impound livestock and to send captured dogs and cats to the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA). However, livestock farmers continue to send their animals to graze on the campus. Unfortunately, the tenancy squabble has continued due to insufficient resources to keep the animals out. The most recent record of animal contentions at UWI was recorded in a Gleaner article published in 2018, titled “Who let the dogs out? – UWI campus administrators livid with staff for their obsession with stray dogs”. The article quotes a circular released by the then campus registrar, Dr Camille Bell-Hutchinson, dissuading staff members from reclaiming stray dogs that have been removed from the campus and sent to the JSPCA. Today, almost 4 years later the story remains the same, as you walk the campus you will undoubtedly encounter a few campus strays, mainly cats and dogs. If you should visit the UWI Mona Bowl you are likely to see a few goats owned by members of the surrounding community. Since the cows are too big to pass through the spin gates you will only see them grazing outside the walls of the University. As to how long this tenancy squabble will continue is a total mystery but one thing is for sure, the animals will forever remain a part of The UWI’s History.

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