My September article, Wild and Loose, dealt with abandoned dogs and cats on the streets of Jamaica. Much has happened in the two months since then. To begin with, the male and female dog did what comes naturally and produced four puppies. Three of the puppies have since disappeared leaving one male. Several of my neighbors think someone took the puppies because there has never been the smell of decomposing puppies. So instead of six dogs the neighborhood now only has three. It appears the near starvation of the pregnant mother caused both her and the puppies to develop a disease called mange.
Mange is a disease of the skin where parasites attack the dog causing itchy bumps all over the body. While not fatal in itself, it could lead to a breakdown in the dog’s immune system. The dog’s scratching can very easily cause open sores, a prime target for infection. Treatment for the disease consists of baths with medication called Triatix supplemented with aloe vera rubs. Two benefits from the aloe vera, besides from soothing the itch, it is non toxic and tastes bitter. The bitter taste will deter the dog from licking the open sores.
I am very much at odds as to what I can do for these dogs. Sparkle is the least of my worries. From what I have heard, he is fifteen or sixteen years old which means his days are numbered. That leaves the mother and the puppy. As hard as I have tried I still haven’t got the confidence of the mother yet. She will smell my outstretched hand but that is as far as it goes. The puppy is very much the typical puppy. Why he even follows me around like the puppy dog he is! Treating his mange is quite simple. He received his first bath of Triatix and seemed to enjoy it particularly when I was rubbing his chest. He will continue to receive weekly baths until he is parasite free.
There are two alternatives to treating the mother. One is dusting where she sleeps and the other is mixing a pill in her food. For now neither of these options are viable. I know she sleeps in a four room empty apartment in the neighborhood but I have not been able to determine exactly where she sleeps on a regular basis. The pill in the food would be difficult as all three dogs will eat from the same bowl even though I have made two bowls of food for the adult dogs and kept the puppy within my gate. Sparkle is very selfish when it comes to food. He will chase her away from her bowl so she goes to his. Once he sees her there the chase is on again. When the puppy has finished he wants to go out to be with the mother. Perhaps if I had more time and patience I could find a way to separate the three of them successfully.
During this ordeal with the dogs and an earlier problem with feral cats, I have found and dealt with two organizations that work with feral, abandoned, and abused animals in Jamaica. The first one is The Animal House. The following information was sent to me from The Animal House: The Animal House (Jamaica) was founded in 1996, and was formally registered as a charity in May of 2003. As one of only two shelters on the island and the only one on the north coast, The Animal House fills a critical need in the island’s communities. During the time it has been in operation the shelter has rescued and rehabilitated hundreds of cruelly abused and callously abandoned cats, dogs, goats, and race horses. As a no-kill shelter with an average in-house population of 150 animals, we place the emphasis on spay and neuter as the only effective means of population control of companion animals, and we have always been very successful in finding permanent and loving homes for our animals both in Jamaica and overseas. Our experience has been almost all animals are adoptable if the time is taken to find the right home. The few rescued animals we are not able to place are guaranteed a home with us for life. We also have a humane education program which we believe is the only way to change the bad attitudes towards animals that currently prevail.
Fulfilling the mission of The Animal House (Jamaica) has been difficult from the outset given that the shelter receives no government assistance, nor any consistent private funding. These basic survival problems have been compounded by the fact that Jamaica has been hit by four hurricanes in less than four years, each of which left us with severe structural damage as well as unexpected and heavy increases in numbers. Despite these challenges, however, we have managed to survive. And not only survive but, with the help of some very kind donors we have managed to improve the kennel conditions at our shelter. We still seriously need help… many of our animals require more space and better living conditions, and the shelter needs the security of knowing that the needs of our animals will be met via some form of regular funding. We will keep moving forward with strong faith that we will succeed.
The Animal House (Jamaica) is located in Lydford, St. Ann. It’s postal address is PO Box 775, Ocho Rios, Jamaica. The email address is [email protected]. Executive director is Maureen Sheridan.
The second organization is Noah’s Ark Spay and Neuter Group, a non profit organization, based in Orlando, Florida, which works to improve the health and welfare of the street animals on the island of Jamaica. Our programs include spay/neutering and humane education. In 2002, with the help from a few volunteers, a local vet, and much advice from numerous animal welfare organizations, Noah’s Ark was founded. We are the only organization of its kind on the island that works to improve the lives of Jamaica’s street animals by providing free sterilizations, health care, and humane education programs. Humane education, targeted towards children and teens, is a vital component of our program as we believe by teaching kindness and respect to the younger generations will result in long term change for the animals.
Currently we are targeting inner city areas of Kingston where poverty is extremely high and pet owners cannot afford pet care for their pets. Our long range goal is to put together a mobile clinic that can travel throughout the island providing sterilizations to the rest of Jamaica. We are funded by small grants and donations and are in need of volunteers and more funding.
Noah’s Ark Spay and Neuter Group’s US office is located at 15127 Perdido Drive, Orlando, Florida 32828. The US phone is 407-482-8326. The website is www.noahsarkjamaica.org. Email address for the executive director/founder, Kimberly Swaim, is [email protected]. In Kingston, Jamaica, the program director/treasurer, Deborah Binns’, email address is [email protected].
Both of these organizations are doing a superb job with the feral, abandoned, and abused animals of Jamaica. If you or someone you know is concerned for these animals, contact them through the websites to either volunteer or contribute. They earnestly need your help caring for these animals and for the awareness of spay/neutering islandwide. Later…