The GSPCA – A welcoming home for abandoned and uncared for animals
By Jenelle Willabus
Like human beings animals need care and proper environments, even though they are known to survive harsh conditions. For the past 60 years, a unique entity has been making provisions for abandoned and uncared for animals.
This organisation, the Guyana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA), located at 65 Robb Street and Orange Walk, Bourda, has been making such contributions with the support of many kind-hearted among us.
According to records, it was founded in 1903 and was named the British Guiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Started by a group of expatriate volunteers who had visited Guyana and had firsthand experiences of ill treatment being meted out to animals every day in the streets of Georgetown, initially there was no building for the organization to operate from, so their functions were carried out from the individual homes of members of the group.
It was in 1953, mainly through the efforts of Mrs. Jean Wilson, assisted by her husband who was the architect, the first building to house the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (British Guiana) clinic was erected. As the country gained independence in 1966, the organisation’s name was changed to the Guyana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, as it is now known as today.
Mrs. Wilson’s motivation to establish an animal clinic was fuelled by her passionate, caring nature for animals and most importantly, the many instances of neglect of animals she witnessed. In an article written on the GSPCA, for a foreign magazine, Mrs. Wilson said it “pained my heart to see the suffering horses went through which included trotting through the streets of Georgetown in the heat of the day overloaded while being whipped with rope-rein”.
She also recalled “…seeing monkeys to be sold, kept in dirty cages, chained with leather belts which sometimes rubbed them raw and birds being sold, packed into small cages without freedom to move around”.
Over the years, Mrs. Wilson was able to encourage those joining the GSPCA to diligently care for animals that ended up in their care. The organization was set up as a clinic which offers treatment to, in many cases, gravely ill animals.
At the onset, the responsibilities of the clinic were carried out by a Resident Superintendent assisted by a Chief Inspector, a Veterinary Officer and a panel of volunteers under the charge of a Management Committee. The Clinic and Society continued to operate effectively until the mid-80s mainly, but suffered setbacks primarily due to increasing financial problems and the lack of volunteers to do the required work.
The society nonetheless continued to function under the stewardship of Mrs. Elsie Taylor, despite the fact that the clinic’s physical environment had gone beyond suitability.
Mrs. Taylor steadfast and dedicated work again brought back life to the Society, as she was able to once again recruit volunteers. Her determination and optimism paid off, and in 1992, a group of individuals possessing similar desire to see animals protected, accepted positions to serve as volunteers and eventually Committee Members.
In 2000, the old, deteriorating clinic building was replaced with a spanking new and modern edifice.
The newly constructed clinic is equipped with Boarding facilities, a Surgical room, (2) treatment rooms, a recovery room, Shelter facilities where animals awaiting adoption are housed, a waiting area and an office. It also has a fairly large yard area for exercise purposes for the animals.
The clinic’s administrator is Stacey Gomes.
Notably since its revival, the GSPCA has once again become a vibrant and active part of the community, championing the rights of animals in many forms. This is done on a daily basis with the help of its many volunteers who continue to contribute in various ways to saving the lives, in some cases, of helpless animals.
As it stands today, the Organization “remains committed towards providing quality health care to unwanted animals and in many cases providing new homes for some all at a low cost”.
In addition to this, its stakeholders remain strong advocates for spaying and neutering to control the pet population and reduce instances of unwanted animals being strayed.
The GSPCA receives a yearly subvention from the Government of Guyana and additional funding is received through numerous fundraising activities, sales from pet supplies, and mainly donations.
The organization is managed (all honorary) by President, Oliver Insanally; Vice President, Jennifer Falconer; Treasurer, Dominique Ahmad; Assistant Secretary/Treasurer, Laleta Sivanand and Secretary, Shiromanie Isaacs.
The board is given tangible support by its hard working Committee Members Dr. Steve Surujbally, Dr. Nicholas Waldron and Robin Sivanand.
’SHORTIE AND YAPPIE’
A sweet, lively dog was taken several years ago to the GSPCA slightly malnourished but still full of energy. She was given the name ‘Shortie’. After weeks of working to increase her weight and treating her for a vaginal infection, she was finally healthy enough that she was vaccinated, spayed and given a new home. However in January 2011, the GSPCA received a call about a dog that appeared to be blind and was hiding under a house. The animal was taken back to the GSPCA and though barely recognizable, the volunteers there knew it was ‘Shortie’.
As is required before treating any animal, enquires were made and it was found that during the New Year’s holiday, squibs had been thrown into the yard where ‘Shortie’ lived causing her to run out of the yard and under a car. While under the car more squibs were thrown and one struck her in the eye.
GSPCA quickly made the arrangements with an optician to have her eyes checked and treated, though hope of her regaining her sight fully was very slim. Today, thanks to the help of the GSPCA, ‘Shortie’ lives a comfortable and active life and has regained her sight fully.
And then there was ‘Yappie’. Several years ago, ‘Yappie’ was taken to the GSPCA by a ‘junkie’ with both her back legs broken after she had been severely beaten. Given the extent of her injuries, surgeries were required, but these could not have been performed by the GSPCA. However, with the support of a sponsor and a local veterinarian, it was arranged to have her undergo the requisite treatment.
After months of surgeries, physical therapy and medication, she was finally given a new home and family. The volunteers determined that Yappie’s new home was suitable.
In September 2010, a severely malnourished, mangy and emaciated dog was brought into the GSPCA, barely able to walk. One of the staff recognized ‘Yappie’ from years before and a decision was made to rehabilitate her once again. After several months of treatment she was healthy enough to be given another new home, this time one that was carefully monitored. Because of cases like ‘Shortie’ and ‘Yappie’, the GSPCA was forced to change its policy to require detailed home checks, before and after adoption, despite frustration shown by some members of the public at having to undergo this process.