Arrindell meets with Animal Welfare Foundation

POSTED: 09/30/11 12:32 PM

St. Maarten– President of Parliament Gracita Arrindell had an ‘information gathering consultation sessions’ with President of the St. Maarten Animal Welfare Foundation Susan Wathey, the foundation’s Secretary Pamela Simms and Treasurer Heather Caputo recently. The Animal Welfare Foundation is a non-profit organization which promotes the better treatment of animals.

The Animal Welfare reps informed the President of Parliament about the two main programs of the foundation, namely their “humane education” program that has been on-going since 1992.  The board members would like to see more awareness about animal welfare in the educational system, and have observed that their current program along with other stakeholder initiatives, have played a role in creating the necessary awareness on the island. The foundation reps added that this success can be seen from the large number of patient files that veterinary clinics on the South side of island have on file which means that pet owners are making use of the services offered and that translates into better care of animals.

Also noticeable are the number of people who call the animal welfare emergency number to report an injured animal or other animal related matters. Animal abuse cases are also very rare these days when compared to the past but the foundation is still concerned about the prosecution of animal abuse and neglect cases and stated that submitted reports merit follow-up by the pertinent authorities.

Sterilization is another area that the foundation has been very much involved in. Their philosophy is based on the fact that it is better to prevent reproduction than to destroy offspring. The Animal Welfare Foundation encourages sterilization of animals and they have been active in this area since 1992 by sponsoring over 7, 000 sterilizations for residents of limited financial means or via four annual low cost sterilization campaigns. The foundation’s adoption policy mandates spay/neuter for all adopted animals.

The foundation also has an Animal Ambulance Team whose volunteers respond to animal emergencies and offer free taxi of pets to local vets for residents without transportation. The team treats mange in the community for people unable to provide care for their pets and also collects unwanted animals for adoption. Dutch St. Maarten does not have an animal shelter, however three veterinary clinics makes adoption space available at no cost to the foundation therefore providing new homes for nearly 2, 500 animals.

Some of the things that the foundation would like to see developed is the employment of an animal control officer; measures to deal with loose livestock; an animal registry and tag law; a sterilization law; and the introduction of a professional breeding permit. The latter would bring in income for the government and at the same time, animal breeders would have to comply with certain animal welfare standards.

“The meeting was very informative. The foundation receives a subsidy from government on an annual basis and the public has a right to know how their money is being spent, but at the same time, what has been the successes and what else is needed in order to improve the welfare of animals on the island. The next stage of this process is to invite this group along with other animal welfare stakeholders to a Central Committee meeting of Parliament where everybody can share their experiences and put forward their ideas and then it would be up to Parliament to move on thereafter,” Arrindell said on Thursday.


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