A case of ‘animal rescue tourism’

Dear Editor,

In June 2011, an American visitor named Jason came to Guyana to participate in the great jungle adventures Guyana has to offer. His trek into the unknown was delayed for a few days and since he had some time on his hands he walked around Stabroek Market, stopping at Satro’s General Store on Croal Street. The owner of the business, Pam, noticed his tee-shirt said something about animals and asked him if he worked with animals. He said “yes,” that he volunteered at a shelter for “last chance” dogs – those dogs on death row.  He said his job was to work with them to gain their love and trust and to help them forgive humans for their cruelty. He also said he did his best to find loving homes for as many of them as he could. Pam told him about the work I do and suggested that we meet.

On the morning of June 16 another volunteer (Gloria) and I picked up two dogs from Better Hope. Around mid-morning we met with Jason and invited him to go with us on a rescue trip to Sophia. He accepted the invitation enthusiastically. On the way to Sophia, at the back of the Botanical Gardens, we saw a dog that could barely walk and had deep wounds on her neck. We stopped, put her in our kennel and continued on to Sophia where we picked up 3 dogs and a kitten; with 7 animals delivered to the GSPCA we called it quits for the day.

On June 17, Jason volunteered to join me once again and I took him to Holmes Street where we picked up 3 dogs in very bad condition.

This visit was a real eye-opener for us all. We saw several small cages with fighting cocks and several Pitbulls; some were tied and others were locked in very small pens. The owners listened to our pleas to treat these animals more humanely, but we left with the feeling that nothing was likely to change very soon.

Next we went to what used to be the Plaza cinema area where we picked up 3 stray dogs. These dogs had, until recently, been fed by a concerned woman, but as she was forced to leave the area she could no longer care for them.  They were delivered to the GSPCA.

Since Jason’s eco-tourism trip was still on hold he decided another day of animal rescue tourism was in store. On June 18 we took him to Industrial Site, picked up 7 unwanted puppies and handed them over to a GSPCA employee. On June 20 (the last day before Jason’s departure for the interior) we went to Plaisance Market and Embankment Road and picked up 5 sick dogs.

What is it that would make an American on vacation in Guyana want to spend four days picking up stray animals from the streets of Georgetown? The only answer I can think of is that Jason is a true animal lover; and maybe you have to be an animal lover to understand the inner feelings of someone like Jason.  Jason knew that most of the animals we picked up were sick, in horrible condition and would have to be put down. However, he helped make their last moments on earth peaceful ones. You could almost see his good karma flowing as the animals were drawn to him; even the vicious ones calmed down and were at ease in his presence.

I wish we had more animal rescue tourists like Jason; what good role models they would make for Guyanese children (and their parents). In his own little way, in four days, Jason helped make a difference.  We thank Jason on behalf of those animals whose suffering he helped reduce and the faith in humans he helped restore among those fortunate enough to see him in action.

Every time I meet someone like Jason, I become more convinced than ever that we can overcome the stray dog problem; all it takes is money, strength and a whole lot of love for animals.

Below is a picture of Jason rescuing dogs near the old Plaza cinema site.

Yours faithfully,
S Manbodh

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