NATION

Animals Fiji: Ban Paraquat!

Animals Fiji calls for a complete ban on a highly toxic non-selective herbicide known as ‘paraquat’. Animals Fiji – an animal welfare centre – is operated by West Charity Trust
13 Jan 2017 11:00
Animals Fiji: Ban Paraquat!
Paraquat on sale at a supermarket.

Animals Fiji calls for a complete ban on a highly toxic non-selective herbicide known as ‘paraquat’.

Animals Fiji – an animal welfare centre – is operated by West Charity Trust Society. It was established in late 2011 by four trustees.

Between 10 and 15 dogs suspected of paraquat poisoning are brought every month to the Animals Fiji office in Nadi, according to Casey Quimby, the director of Animals Fiji.

“As testing for paraquat is unavailable in Fiji for animals and very expensive to send for testing overseas, by which time the animal would already be deceased,” said Ms Quimby.

Therefore, they are unable to comment on the amount of confirmed cases.

Currently they have received 2900 signatures since their online petition was launched on January 5 this year. She said the support received has been overwhelming.

According to Ms Quimby, there are additional 100-150 cases of suspected paraquat poisoning of dogs across their other four clinics (Lautoka, Savusavu, Taveuni and Labasa) per year.

“We frequently see distraught owners bringing in the poisoned dogs, cats, and goats and unfortunately there is no cure for paraquat poisoning,” she said.

She said the herbicide was available to the general public.

“You can buy it off the shelf in hardware or grocery stores. But the Ministry of Agriculture does not authorise or support the culling of dogs by this means,” she said.

However, she said individuals were using it illegally to intentionally poison dogs.

According to Section 8 of the Dogs Act 1971 [Cap 168], the relevant Minister may authorise the destruction of a stray or wild dogs and the owner will not receive any form of compensation.

Section 16 of the Dogs Act 1971 also states that the Minister is allowed to use poison or to her means for the destruction of dogs.

It has been linked to some suicide cases in the past.

“If it is consumed by humans they will die. It is actually the herbicide most frequently used in suicides. Countries such as South Korea that have banned Paraquat have seen a significant decrease in the number of suicides,” Ms Quimby said.

Questions sent to the Ministry of Agriculture but have not been answered when this edition went to press.

In response to questions sent to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, the ministry said it did not control the sale and importation of agricultural chemicals.

“Any patients who present themselves to public hospitals with suicide attempts are investigated by the Police. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services works together with other ministries and NGOs to provide advocacy on suicide prevention and counseling,” the ministry stated.

“However, the Ministry’s Wellness Centre has a National advisor on mental Health Programs based at the Namosi House in Toorak.”

According to the ministry, Management Wards with Community Mental Health Teams have been established in divisional hospitals.

Mental health clinics are gradually being integrated into primary health clinics.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback:  monica.aguilar@fijisun.com.fj

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