Monday, 20 August 2012

Ally: still smelly, but finally home!

VSPCA Board Member, Margaret Hughes shares:

I first spied Ally as a shadowy figure in the bushes when driving near the Old Golf Course at Ratho Mill.  When I attempted to approach her, she ran away.  I went back to the spot later and left food and water but I will never know if she got it.

About a week later, I spotted the same figure at the Beach at Canash.  I went and got some dog biscuits and returned to the spot I saw her and laid a trail of biscuits.  I waited patiently for about half an hour then saw her again tentatively approaching the first biscuit.  When she got near to me, I spoke to her and gently asked her if she would like to come home with me.

She was the ugliest and scruffiest dog you can possibly imagine and she looked as if she was starving (she was).  After speaking to her for a good long time, I got up and slowly started walking home.  After a pause, she started following me.

There are many houses with loud dogs on the walk home and I was sure we would be barked at and she would be scared away.  But the doggie gods were with us that day – no barking or loud noises and we made it all the way home.

When my other two dogs were introduced to this apparition, they were hugely unimpressed and Freddie (a female who thinks she is the alpha male) was downright nasty to Ally.  They soon got used to her though and, while it would be untrue to say they love her, they at least ignore her.

She had a chronic skin condition which not only made her very itchy but also very smelly.  With the Vet’s help, I have been treating her with various potions, unguents and shampoos.  She is much better that she was but still not out of the woods (no pun intended) and still a bit smelly.

She has made herself quite at home – in fact, she hates the idea of leaving the yard as I think she is fearful that we may abandon her again.  She is hugely loving and so appreciative of everything – especially food!  She is safe and loved now and will have a home, smelly or not, until she dies.

Friday, 13 July 2012

The Importance of Spaying and Neutering in St. Vincent; an interview with Dr. Eric Audain

A person could observe there to be possibly more dogs than people in St. Vincent. Think about it. Chances are you, or at least your neighbour is in care of at least one, if not more than one, dog. Whether a companion, security mechanism, or commodity in which you profit off of, you are in the minority if your household is not in possession of at least one dog.

How many dogs do we see wandering the streets, either with or without homes to retreat to at the end of the day or during a downpour of rain? Quite a few. One would have to be admiring the rolling hills and ocean views of St. Vincent to not notice the amount of animals lining the road, particularly in the evenings when the blocks are full of people liming after work; after all, where there are people, there is often food. And for many animals in St. Vincent, hunger is an ever-present feeling.

If you do take the time to see them, do you consider them? Maybe you are tired of the eyesores or deeply concerned about the impact of the over-population of street dogs in St. Vincent due to uncontrolled breeding. If you do care for a dog, are you tired of your female producing litter after litter? Think about how tired she must be! Did you know that you could significantly reduce illness and disease in both male and female dogs through spaying and neutering procedures? Egerton James and Devon Lewis, both participants in last week’s FREE SPAY AND NEUTER CLINIC IN KEARTONS, were concerned about the health of their dogs and chose to neuter and spay to do their part to prevent unwanted and unnecessary litters in the community.

Dr. Audain neutered three dogs and spayed one on July 5th in Keartons, Barrouallie.

Dr. Eric Audain, a native of Barrouallie and Cuban trained veterinarian, is committed to seeing a dramatic change in the lives of Vincentian animals and those who care for them. The Vincentian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (VSPCA) Founder, Kiersten Anderson interviewed Dr. Audain about his free services to communities all over St. Vincent:

Kiersten Anderson (KA): What services are you offering, at no charge, to communities? 
Dr. Eric Audain (EA): The over-population of dogs in SVG, is as a result of uncontrolled breeding. This situation must be looked at as a threat to our public health, considering the significant increase in the number of reported cases of zoonotic diseases (diseases that spread naturally from animals to human and vice-versa), worldwide and as a result we, at Audain's Animal Care, are offering a series of free spay and neuter clinics in various communities, starting in Barrouallie. Spaying and neutering are terms used in veterinary medicine to describe a surgical procedure that result in an animal’s permanent inability to reproduce. Spaying (ovariohysterectomy) applies to female dogs whereas neutering (castration) refers to male dogs. In some cases the word neutering refers to both male and female dog. During our clinics we will be removing the ovaries and the testicles of dogs.
KA: What can participants expect during and after the procedure?
EA: The surgical procedure is relatively short, 7-10 minutes in females and 5-7 minutes in males. The animal will be fully anesthetized and all sanitary measure will be in place to reduce the possibility of the animal acquiring any infection. There will be minimal blood loss and quick post surgical recovery (15-30 minutes). Animals will be given long acting antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drugs after the surgery. After the surgery, the owner/s of the animal must be actively involved in what is referred to as post surgical care, this phase is vital and will determine the success of the surgery. The animal is to be kept in a highly sanitized area and the wound should be clean and monitored daily. Light food (liquid) should be given within the first three hours post surgery.
KA: Why is spaying/neutering your animal essential in SVG? 
EA: Regarding the animal, the following benefits must be considered:
- Prolonging the life span
- Preventing heat
- Significant reduction in the spread of sexually transmitted diseases
- Reducing the constant urinating around the yard
- Reducing roaming
- Reducing in fighting to establish dominance
- Reducing breast, pulmonary cancer and genital tumors

Some of the benefits the owner of the animal will value are:
- Reducing spending on health issues regarding tumors and cancer
- Less roaming of dogs
- Decreased chances of animals picking up and passing along zoonotic diseases to family members

Our country will also benefit greatly as a result of spaying and neutering dogs. The benefits may be summarized in the following ways:
- Less roaming of dogs and so a significant reduction in the spread of zoonotic diseases
- Reducing the number of stray dogs, which play a major role in our destruction of livestock
- Enhancing our tourism industry and the creation of employment opportunities
- Reducing in the number of dog bites in public places

KA: What kind of impact do you envision the programme having in Vincentians' lives and our country?
EA: This free spaying and neutering programme is expected to greatly enhance the quality of life of our people and their pets (dogs) by reducing the possibility of the transmission of a significant number of zoonotic diseases. The health/economic impact of such a programme extends beyond our pets. The sanitary condition of our communities and towns will greatly improve due to the reduction of contamination with dogs’ fecal material. 
KA: How would you respond to common concerns Vincentians have about spaying and neutering, be they financial, health-related, animal-image related, etc.?
EA: It is factual that my of our people are reluctant to have their animal spay or neuter due to various reasons. One thing for sure is that such a procedure significantly enhances the quality of life of our pets. This programme is specifically geared towards our communities where many of the people are unable to afford the cost, and will otherwise be incapable of having such a procedure done.
In my personal experience, the only notable issue regarding this procedure is that the animal might have a tendency of gaining weight if the feeding pattern isn't altered regarding the portion of meals given. 

Dr. Audian’s next clinic will be held at Bottle and Glass on Thursday, the 12th of July, in front of Cutie’s Shop. He will be in Layou on the 19th, the exact location to be decided. Stay tuned!

Pre-Surgery Check Up

During Surgery, with guardian assisting

Post-Surgery Care

Monday, 23 April 2012

On Being A Foster Mum...

When asked if I would foster orphaned pups, it came as a shock but only took me seconds to say yes! It is a decision I have never regretted, even after the sleepless nights, the wagging tails, eager eyes and little cries of hunger stir your heart. Then comes the contented sucking sound as they enjoy their first meal of yet another new day of life; it is enough to make your heart burst.

I started out believing I could stay detached, as the goal, of course, is for these little wards to be placed in forever homes with their new permanent families, but it is impossible! I know now that I love them enough to want a loving family of their very own, meaning I have succeeded in my task of giving them that chance. How rewarding is that?

If you have time and patience, there is NO other job as rewarding; you will have a bigger heart with more love to give by the time they leave your care, not to mention the many hours of fun and enjoyment along the way.

The support of VSPCA, a wonderful organization that I feel privileged to be a very small part of, is always just a phone call away.

Carolyn- VSPCA Volunteer

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Annique's Perspective 

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to become a veterinarian. From a tender age, perhaps as soon as I could walk, I have been assisting my father in his veterinary clinic – be it weekends or school breaks. I have also always had a profound love of animals, I guess this has been fostered by my always having been exposed to them in a positive light from an early age – something I wish more people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines could experience. When a child shoos an animal, or expresses some other form of cruelty towards it, I don’t think it is because the child doesn’t like the animal, he or she is just emulating what they see their parents and other influential people in their life do, they then grow up with a certain mind-set and in turn pass on these traits to their children.

I’m currently on a journey towards obtaining my DVM; at the moment I’m going for my Bachelor’s Degree in Animal and Poultry Science (Pre – Vet). My main goal is to become the best vet I can be, and then return home to make a difference in the lives of the animals residing in my country. To me, having the power to alleviate the suffering of these animals is the most important aspect of veterinary medicine.

While working with my father, I’ve seen some heart rendering cases of neglect and abuse: animals so engulfed by parasites that they are on the brink of death; extreme malnutrition; oozing, festering, human-inflicted wounds; and so many more. The worst of it is however, that after these animals are cured, they end up going back into the arms of those who caused the misery. I would dearly like to see brighter futures for these animals someday.
I take my hat off to the VSPA J I am SO happy with the effort being put forth, and I’m deeply inspired by how much hard work you guys are doing! Can’t wait to help you guys out when I get back in the summer!

All the best,

Annique-VSPCA Volunteer 

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Taming of the Roo

But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…” Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry

Roo showed up at our doorstep like most of the strays in our neighborhood; starving as evident in her emaciated frame, flee-infested, skittish, and just doing enough to get by day-by-day. There was something different about her, but I failed to notice it from my first encounters... We already had a former-street dog named Isla (who was rescued as a puppy from an abandoned lot) and other neighborhood dogs would show up at the house enticed by the smell of her dog food. We were protective and worried about Isla being attacked by other dogs because of their territorial nature. I would shoo Roo and other dogs away from our house with a broom, but never touching a hair on their body. Roo would move a bit when I came close with the broom, but as soon as I walked back to the house she would be waiting by the gate and I eventually gave up trying to shoo her away. You can’t shoo a Roo- at least I couldn’t anymore.

Roo became a fixture on our lawn and we would refer to her as “Girl” because we didn’t have a name for her yet, but somehow we knew she had a name, if not only the one we would give to her. Roo waited patiently and consistently on our steps; her stubby legs going from side to side and her little nub of a tail wagging upon our return, arms full of groceries - more than we probably needed. She would jump up and down once she reached us begging to be petted and loved. We would give her a little pet, as you could see the fleas crawling all over her patched, lackluster fur coat. We felt sorry for her, but what could we do? We talked about giving her a name and Kiersten wanted me to come up with it, as she knew there was a special bond between us. I thought the dog looked a lot like a Kangaroo and she was always jumping up, so I went with Kangaroo.  We mainly call her Roo or Rhubarb, but she has a litany of names depending on the day. We began to feed her rice (a staple for dogs in St. Vincent) and would let her play with Isla in the yard.

Roo’s biological clock rang and she was soon in heat. The local male dogs, or bulls, in the neighborhood were pursuing her night and day it seemed, and after not being able to take the whining and cries of help any longer from the constant attacks, Kiersten and I let her rest overnight and recover during the day, hoping she felt more comfortable. Tired and bleeding, Roo became a fixture on our porch, and now I was shooing the male dogs away with the same broom that used to meet her. She acted in many ways like she was once cared for, that she once had a family, but most likely abused and later dumped, as so many dogs are. They grow out of cute “puppy-ness”, or become sick or unattractive and are unfortunately easily disposable by those who lack empathy, compassion, and kindness. She was jumpy and shy, and traces of this troubled past follow her today. You could sense she was always on egg shells waiting to be hurt or chased away.

Roo started to wander in the house and try sit on the floor. We were worried about her being in the house with her flea infestation, so we soon embarked on trying to wash and de-flea her in the back wash basin/sink area. Roo did not like water at all, so I used a flea comb with anti-flea bath soap. I tried a few times to comb her, but she would not have it! She’d run away and only return when it was time to eat. I finally put her on the gated porch and began to comb her. We did this process multiple times filling up water bottles with floating dead fleas. As I was combing Roo, I thought to myself that this must be an act of true love. If somebody truly and unconditionally loved me, they would spend hours picking fleas off my body (I would never really have this problem, but it is a good metaphor). During this time, our bond deepened and she was no longer a random stray mutt, but a fellow being that needed love and care. What if we began to see all in this light?  I soon took on the job of domesticating Roo by giving her baths, taking her for walks and trying to teach her how to play catch (she is still working on giving up the ball).

Roo spends her days now in the house chewing on bones, playing with Isla and Wolf, and dreaming of butterflies. She has moved up from plain rice to three meals a day with chow, boiled chicken, boiled eggs, rice and LOADS of yummy treats from America and home-made by Kiersten. She received her first present after her spay surgery; a jersey I purchased in Kenya, which she sleeps on every night. Gone are the days of beatings, shooings, rancid garbage digging, canine gang rapes, and sleeping with one eye open. She is home. She is Roo.

By Nick VSPCA Social Media Strategist & Kiersten VSPCA President 

Friday, 6 April 2012

Peace Corps Third Goal 12.0

Kiersten on Google Chat

As most Peace Corps Volunteers know, the third goal of Peace Corps aims to help Americans understand the people and culture of countries where Peace Corps Volunteers serve. We begin our Peace Corps experience as ambassadors of the US, but during our service we slowly transform into ambassadors for the countries in which we serve through sharing our accounts of our day-to-day realities. Since 1961, technology has come a long way and the Peace Corps Volunteer experience has evolved due to the development of information technologies such as Skype, Google, and other computer applications. Volunteers can now videochat with students in classrooms, write about their experience on blogs, and update friends and family with pictures on Twitter and Facebook.

On Wednesday, March 28, I gave a presentation at the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SF SPCA) to youth attending a Spring Break Animal Camp. I was showcasing my experience with Kiersten Anderson’s Peace Corps project in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), called the Vincentian Society for the Protection of Cruelty Against Animals (VSPCA) (refer to the last news letter to learn more about the VSPCA). I wanted to create an interactive presentation for the students, so I kept their attention and gave them a virtual tour of SVG. I created a slide show of pictures and interesting facts about the VSPCA’s work, animals in SVG and animal cruelty in SVG. I knew these topics might interest the students, but in today’s society, it is challenging to keep children’s attention for more than five minutes. I talked to Kiersten and we decided it would be a great idea for her to appear for half of the presentation on Google Chat, talking with the children about her experience, answering questions, and showing them Vincy animals in real time.

Although the students enjoyed my component, Kiersten’s part was a great success! They became lively and curious when Kiersten appeared on the screen with a puppy. The students were excited to meet current six-week-old VSPCA foster puppies: Sessi, Georgie, and Badger, as well as Kiersten’s rescue dog, Isla. She also answered questions on what it was like to live in SVG, what type of work she was doing in schools, what the dogs ate, and what kind of difficulties a stray animal in SVG had to face. It was a unique experience to see a Peace Corps Volunteer at the mid-point of her service virtually beamed into a classroom 4,000 miles away, teaching students and enlightening an audience on her project.

The SF SPCA enjoyed the presentation so much that they invited us back to present to another group of students on April 11. I don’t know if President John F. Kennedy could have envisioned Kiersten speaking from SVG to a class in San Francisco, but our presentation keeps true to Kennedy’s vision and Peace Corps objective in its third goal. I was glad to be a part of this experience and it instilled in me the importance of continuing to teach and educate people about the Peace Corps, the culture and people in the countries we served in, and the work we accomplished and our experience abroad.

Nicholas Jeffrey-VSPCA Social Media Strategist & RPCV Uganda 08-10

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Gully: From Gutter to Forever Home

When a member of VSPCA posted the adoption link on the group's wall, I decided to take a look, because I was eager for a puppy. I think it would have been best for me to support the organization and adopt a pup in need of a home. These pups need love too, which they never received and if it wasn't for VSPCA, they never would have had an opportunity.  Dogs are said to be faithful animals, so why not be faithful to them. The manner in how some people treat these animals in our communities are unjust, people have to realize that they too have a beating heart, they have feelings, and pain exists. As I was viewing the pictures of the puppies up for adoption, I came across Gully's picture and I fell in love instantly. I just knew I had to have her. Now she has been with me for two days and I see that she is fitting in very well. She licks me a lot, so I know she likes me, and she loves it when I scratch her chin. I have all my love to give to her and I know she will return it. There is a saying that the greatest love is a mother's, then a dog's, and then a sweet heart's. To the members of VSPCA you are doing a very good job. 

Thank you,