(Published by Cayman News Service, November 6, 2018)
Animal lovers have been left reeling by a video circulating across social media showing a dog left for dead in the middle of the road after being hit by a school bus.
The incident was caught on video by a Clifton Hunter High School student. On the short video clip (see below), a shocked student can be heard saying, “He literally just ran over the dog. Oh, my God!” Text running across the video states the bus driver looked at the dog and then drove off. In the video the dog can be seen in the middle of the road with severe injuries to its back legs.
Animal lovers are urgently trying to track the location of the incident so as the dog can be found. CNS contacted the principal of CHHS, Pauline Beckford, along with representatives from the Ministry of Education and Government Information Services.
Beckford, who was initially unaware of the incident, said, “Given the nature and the seriousness of this incident, we will be treating the matter sympathetically to enable the incident to be fully investigated. We have identified a student who was a witness to the incident.”
Following a request by CNS, the Ministry and Department of Education Services released a statement, in which they said that the bus had been identified and all students have access to counselling services, including those who were on the bus and witnessed the incident.
The statement added, “All transportation services for CHHS are contracted to private providers. No buses are government owned or operated. All service providers are bound by a contract, within which the service providers are to report any incidents which happen on the bus to the relevant school and the Department of Education Services. The Department of Education Services has contacted the service provider and is in the process of further investigation into the incident.”
CNS has learnt that the school bus was operated by Whittaker’s Transport.
“This incident was an unfortunate accident,” Clyde Whittaker of Whittaker’s Transport said in response to CNS queries. “We have admonished the driver for not reporting the incident before leaving the scene. He questioned the two bystanders as to ownership of the animal then made the decision to get his passengers to school, where he reported the incident to a supervisor. The supervisor then visited the scene but was unable to find the dog or its owner. Neither supervisor nor driver reported the incident to management. They have both been admonished and are dismayed and ashamed that they did not do more to aid the animal immediately.”
Whittaker added, “We have now installed a system where, should this ever happen again, we will send a relief driver to take over the bus while the driver responsible takes any injured animal to the nearest vet.”
The video was initially received by animal activist Juliette Heath-Ebanks on Saturday evening.
“It is always shocking that someone can run over an animal and drive away without assisting, however this is that much worse as it was a school bus driver with a bus full of kids who witnessed everything,” she said.
Commenting on the response across social media, Heath-Ebanks said, “People are upset and angry nothing was done to assist the injured animal.”
Saskia Salden, director of the Cayman Islands Humane Society, said, “We are saddened and horrified that this happened to this poor dog and we hope that he/she was given medical treatment or humanely put to sleep.”