Climbing down a steep hill at Ralph Narine Trace, South Oropouche, the recently paved roadway led to a line of kennels and home of over 250 dogs and 40 cats.
Animals Alive Dog Sanctuary is a far cry from the shelter set up by deceased animal lover Hikmet Ahamad whose decomposed body was found among the animals he had rescued last January.
A crew of six workers employed with Bethel International has been working continuously to complete a Vet clinic, pet shop, luxury boarding kennels and walking trails at the spacious four-acre parcel spread out in a valley surrounded by lush greenery.
The shelter was taken over by Animals Alive (AA), a group of voluntary workers who set aside plans of converting 50 acres at Dyers Village, Princes Town to build a sanctuary. AA rushed to the rescue and took care of Ahamad’s 150 animals adding to the number with collections from the street and the Regional Corporations each day.
Then AA had a stroke of luck.
Joe Peckis, Project Manager of Bethel International was having a haircut at a hair salon on Independence Avenue, San Fernando one day and in the light-hearted conversation that followed, he was asked to continue a voluntary contribution made by his company to AA. He said “Yes” and the next day was at the Oropouche shelter lending a hand.
Since February, Bethel’s contribution crossed the $2 million mark and continues. Six containers were re-designed and converted into a building that houses a vet clinic and exhibition area where artist Paula Cooper currently has a display of her latest work. Part of the proceeds of her art work would be donated to the shelter.
Vice Principal of Princes Town Comprehensive and livewire of AA, Kathryn Cleghorn said the cost of running the animal shelter stood at $34,000 a month.
She said that animals rescued from the pound and brought in by the Regional Corporations were fed and given medical care making as many as possible “adoptable”.
“We have an ongoing “adopt a pet” programme that has been slow but steady over the past few months,” she said.
Four full-time employees look after the animals that are glowing with good health and ready to take their places at homes throughout the country.
The high profile professionals and corporate citizens are on the verge of reaping rich rewards for their efforts in saving the lives of stray animals. The vet clinic, boarding houses, training and other services available will provide the necessary funds to maintain the establishment. A full time trainer Sandy Gopaul Badreesingh said that she wanted Government to send 12 youths in its YTEPP programme to become dog trainers.
“In the weeks of training, they would walk the dogs and help in retraining some of them making them adoption ready,” she said adding that the youths would at the same time equip themselves with valuable knowledge in animal care.
AA is also calling on Government to set up a programme of spaying dogs and cats to make the stray population more manageable.
“There should be no homeless animals on the streets,” AA president Cleghorn said.
She urged parents to adopt a pet for their children and teach the youths responsibility and compassion.
“Caring for an animal enriches the lives of children and teach them how to love and care for others,” she said.
A fete at Doc’s Ranch, Palmiste titled “See and Don’t Tell” on September 12 and a Cabaret Show at Petrotrin Staff Club on November 28 are among the forthcoming fund-raisers planned.
Animal Alive was set up in October 2008 with a mission to rescue stray dogs and cats.
Senator and Vice President of the Senate, Lyndira Oudit leads a Movers and Shakers fund-raising committee for AA. The group is determined to match international standards and be at hand to ensure that all animals receive tender loving care and are treated with dignity.
All pets available for adoption have been spayed and given a bill of health by an inhouse vet.