Union Island’s Animal Shelter: Bittersweet UpdateShana Jones August 5, 2017
It’s a sad story with a bittersweet ending. Union Island: a mother and two litters of puppies are abandoned by an owner who has just left Union and the mother is later found dead, presumably poisoned. The puppies are rescued and brought to the Southern Grenadines Animal Kindness (SGAK) animal shelter, where they are slowly but surely recovering. While most seem to be adjusting to their new environment, for others, the certainty that it is a safe and nurturing place is slow in coming. Thankfully, Susie Alexander, SGAK’s resident animal caregiver, overflows with the patience, genuine concern, and dedication necessary to nurse the animals back to life.
This is a story not unlike many others SGAK deals with on a regular basis, except that the owner of these dogs actually “volunteered” with the shelter at one time. Having joined the ranks as a so-called citizen concerned about animal welfare, she accepted Cookie, the mother, into her home and promised to have her spayed. Cookie was never spayed (a fact her owner vehemently denied), and so would consequently go on to have multiple litters. Some of the puppies were eventually homed through SGAK, but others ended up on the street.
Cookie’s second litter adapted quickly to the new surroundings
The story worsened drastically when the owner decided to leave the island: instead of putting the animals up for adoption or turning them over to the shelter, she left them on her fenced-in property with minimal food and water. One was found locked up in an upstairs porch and running around in its own waste. Equally distressing is the fact that the owner had been asked to claim them but denied any association with them, saying they were strays. By the time SGAK arrived for their rescue, they were starving, covered in mange and ticks, and very frightened of humans. Had it not been for some concerned neighbours who had been throwing food to them over the fence, the animals would have been in even worse condition.
SGAK’s post of this story on its Facebook page brought out 3 important considerations. Firstly, prospective animal owners need to be vetted, whether the shelter is seeking an owner or a person is simply taking an animal from a friend. A background check of sorts will reveal the person’s general attitude toward animals, his living environment, his sense of responsibility, etc. A good assessment may have forced Cookie’s previous owner to bypass this individual who ended up abandoning her. Secondly, SGAK recommends that owners putting their animals up for adoption have them neutered/spayed, which would help to control an already problematic stray dog population. This owner’s refusal to spay Cookie resulted in the unnecessary endangerment of at least 8 puppies. Finally, stricter laws born out of a greater respect for animal life would provide structure to the homing/adoption process and send a powerful message to errant owners.
Regardless of what should or should not be, Susie and the other folks at SGAK as well as its sister organization, the Vincentian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, continue to work tirelessly to rescue animals from the most horrible situations.They fight head-on the apathy, cruelty, and ignorance that tear at the heartstrings of any animal lover. Through their efforts, they not only breathe new life into these loving, innocent animals, they also do a community service by encouraging new and existing generations to value all life forms (4-legged included!) around them.
Lucky is re-learning to walk on one hind leg after initially arriving at SGAK immobile from the neck downanimals