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VSPCA has made good progress, but needs more help, say members

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Although members of the Vincentian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (VSPCA) are elated with the increasing success of the organization’s free community clinic programme, they are appealing to the government and the general public to provide more assistance.{{more}}

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT, the VSPCA’s vice-president Margaret Hughes-Ferrari and its treasurer, Lisa Walker, expressed deep gratitude for all the assistance (both financial and voluntary) received so far, but made an appeal for more – so that the organization can continue to make progress in its efforts to curb the stray animal population, and sensitise the public on animal welfare.

“Domestic animals… are routinely mistreated in this country,” lamented Hughes-Ferrari. “Half the time they don’t even realize they’re being cruel, because it’s just the way things are. It’s time to change attitudes, and the clinics we do, that goes a long way.”

She said that she believes the key to changing said attitudes lies in targeting the nation’s youths.

“We’re not going to change their parents’ attitudes – those are ingrained. So, we feel the way [to end cruelty to animals] is to get to the youth!”

Hughes-Ferrari said that on several occasions, the VSPCA has reached out to the Ministry of Education with regard to partnering to introduce a programme into the school curriculum that will focus on animal welfare. However, attempts so far have been futile.

She further acknowledged that the government has provided the organization with duty-free concessions on pharmaceuticals and other supplies, and on one occasion provided government veterinarians for the free community clinic programme; but she insisted more could be done.

She explained: “They can do much more because we think, in a sense, we are doing government work. The government should be taking steps to clean up the island, and get rid of diseased and stray animals.”

In addition to this, Hughes-Ferrari also called on the private sector to get more involved in the organization’s activities than has already been done.

The VSPCA, which was founded in September 2011 by Peace Corps volunteer Kiersten Anderson, has over the years been conducting free clinics in the various communities, with the invaluable assistance of local veterinarian Dr Eric Audain.

The most recent clinic was held last Saturday in Chateaubelair, and despite the inclement weather, saw a good turnout of pet owners, who brought their animals to be spayed/neutered and checked for other maladies.

Treasurer Lisa Walker said that although the free clinic has become increasingly popular, the vast majority of persons who make use of it cannot afford the full cost of the treatment or surgeries that their pets might need, so they are asked to donate whatever they can afford.

“People are tired of their dogs having two litters per year,” she pointed out. “The majority of people don’t want to see these stray dogs. They realize it affects everybody in St Vincent.”

She also noted that in the rural areas, the clinics have seen a rise in dogs being brought in suffering from canine transmissible venereal disease – which is a sexually transmitted disease, exclusive to dogs, that can be detrimental to their health and even lead to death.

Walker revealed that each free clinic costs $2,500 – 3,000, but fund-raising efforts don’t always cover this cost. So far for the year, the cost of putting on these clinics has amounted to almost $45,000; however, donations collected have only come up to $6,719.18.

Both Walker and Hughes-Ferrari appealed to members of the public assist the VSPCA in whatever way they can – whether it be donating time or money – and invited interested persons to the organization’s general meeting, to be held at Alliance Francaise on Saturday, November 22 at 9:30 a.m.

The VSPCA can be contacted at (784) 532-9327 or admin@vincentianspca.org. More information is available on its website www.vincentianspca.org or on its Facebook page.

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