Jan 26, 2020 Letters
This year (2020) I am remembering 20-plus years of work as an animal activist. I would like to take this opportunity to try and explain why I love this “profession.” Much of my knowledge and passion for helping animals is due to what I learned from an English Lady, the late Nicole Fitzsimmons. Nicole taught me many things, especially; that animals have feelings, how to help impounded animals, methods for educating school children, safe methods for rescuing animals, the importance of spaying, neutering and re-homing dogs and cats to a loving environment, among others.
Thinking back to when I began my animal activism; after people became aware of my passion for helping animals, they would call me for just about any type of animal problem. This forced me to learn quickly, so I reached out to veterinarians, the GSPCA and the Internet.
Working with the GSPCA has been a great learning experience. Its responsibilities are enormous and demanding: spaying & neutering, running a clinic, investigating cruelty reports, checking homes before adoption, feeding animals in their shelter, identifying adoptable animals and, when necessary, euthanizing.
My job (Dog Catcher Plus) has been a frustrating, exhausting and rewarding journey. On a typical day (7 days a week) I receive anywhere from one to 15 calls (not including WhatsApp, Facebook, Emails, and persons stopping me on the streets) regarding animals in distress. Types of animals in distress include: dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, cows and many types of wildlife (iguanas, sloths, parrots, birds, monkeys, anteaters, turtles, etc.). In the first few years I received part-time help from several volunteers. Fortunately, in the past decade social media has literally become an animal life-saver; facilitating the rapid response needed to save animal lives.
Today I have access to a wide network of over 3000 persons interested in solving problems and improving conditions for selected members of Guyana’s Animal Kingdom.
Probably the most important thing learned over the past 20 years is that success in helping animals takes team work. For example, to obtain effective results I had to learn how to work and communicate with: GspcaMgmt, staff & Inspectors, Newspaper reporters, Wildlife Department personnel, Police officers, Guyana Zoo personnel, GLDA, school students and teachers, politicians, business men and women, family& friends, Vets, community leaders, other activists and contributors of material and financial resources, among others. As a result, I’m pleased to say many persons have come together and gradually built a network of good people and institutions with the common goal of “helping animals”. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of them for their sweat, tears and material support over the years. Thanks to their efforts, more domestic and wild animals are getting the kinds of services they need and deserve but we have only impacted the tip of the iceberg. The problems before us are huge. But with willpower and effective coordination, they can be overcome.
From our experiences over the past 20 years, four specific areas where we need to prioritize actions and resources in the future are:
1) Educating our youth on animal welfare;
2) Spaying and neutering to control domestic animal populations;
3) Protection of Guyana’s wildlife, and
4) Building effective institutions to improve quality of services offered to domestic and wild animals.
Moving forward, I am happy to say that today there are several new pro-animal welfare groups in Guyana, willing and able to work with national and international Humane Societies to bring about change for our voiceless friends. This pleases me greatly because I know their efforts are going to help our animals.
There is hardly a day that goes by that I don’t have tears in my eyes – a result of animal cruelty. However, I never lose hope. At the end of the day I return to my home, a place of peace (almost chemical free) and lots of trees, where my rescued animals are happy& safe and the birds are free, the parrots chatter while eating ‘five fingers,’ a happy rescued turtle cleans up fruit & veggie waste, an opossum sleeps in the mango tree, and toucans, macaws and hawks sit on top of our Palm trees. I think of all the sadness I see on a daily basis and feel lucky to have a happy place to return to. Despite the daily hardships, I never lose hope for the future and so I expect to continue with my passion for many years to come.
Pres. Ali putting water meters on the citizens in Berbice, and not meters on Exxon oil pumps.
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