24 June, 2010


Impounding:  We are looking at the exceptions to the constitutional provision protecting private property.  We have looked at five of them.  The sixth exception will be more familiar than some of the others.  It is the provision that says that it is not an unlawful deprivation of property for a law to provide for the impounding of an animal found straying or trespassing.  Without the Public Pounds Act, it would be unlawful for any officer of the Agricultural Department to pick up my goats, when they are roaming loose and doing damage, and impounding them.  It is only legal to impound people's private property because the Constitution says so, and it is done under a law which was passed for the purpose.
      Which I suppose brings me to the story of the shoats. I have been asked how we West Indians can tell the difference between goats and sheep. Apparently our sheep, living in the tropics as they do, have no wool and are indistinguishable from goats to those of our visitors who live in northern climes.  I have had pleasure in clearing up the confusion.  I could have told about the goat's tail which sticks out horizontal to the ground, or sometimes sticks straight up.  The sheep's tail hangs down.  Or, I could have given instructions about how to jump on the animal, wrestle it to the ground, and look for cloven hooves.  Instead, I have explained that we don't have to distinguish them.  The two have long hybridised and now we have only shoats.  This information has been known to leave a big impression.

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