Quantity, Quality and Perseverance Pays Off
The History of Low Cost/High Volume Spay/Neuter Surgery in the TCI
Running high volume spay/neuter clinics is not a new concept in the Turks and Caicos Islands. In the early 1990’s Elaine Huard an expat resident living on Grand Turk was truly passionate about controlling the dog and cat populations and educating local residents how to care for their pets. She introduced the first initiative of arranging for volunteer vet teams based out of Florida to run clinics in a spare room of the Grand Turk Museum. For a number of years before 2008 when Hurricane Ike hit the TCI she made sure hundreds of dogs and cats were sterilized on Grand Turk, Salt Cay and South Caicos. Elaine was truly a pioneer in her field of animal welfare work.
In 2000 on the island of Providenciales rapid development was taking place and the newly formed chapter of the TCSPCA was faced with (among other things) 3 main challenges:
- controlling large numbers of aggressive stray dogs,
- providing humane education for residents
- most importantly making free spay/neuter surgery available to the thousands of pet owners unable to afford the cost of a private vet.
To cope with this daunting situation, the TCSPCA worked with government and local veterinarian Dr. Mark Woodring to offer S/N surgery to the masses. Between 2001 and 2008 TCSPCA volunteers drove the “Animal Bus” hundreds of miles each week to every community on Provo picking up companion dogs and cats, taking them to the clinic and returning them home safely after their surgery. Dr. Woodring performed 1,299 surgeries! The term “Responsible Pet Owner” really took form in the TCI. Animals received professional vet care and the TCSPCA taught owners how to care for their pets. This was a first in TCI and to this day has had a dramatic impact on the lives of animals and pet owners in the TCI.
In 2008 Dr. Rich Sefcik and a wonderful donor from England named Annie Notley became part of the TCSPCA family. They both believed in our mission and through the amazing generosity of Annie complemented by the exceptional veterinary skills of Dr. Rich and the blessing of government the TCSPCA low cost S/N clinic opened its doors. To date we have sterilized thousands of small animals.
The TCSPCA runs S/N clinics regularly all year round in the Provo clinic and we have now expanded to other islands. With the help of fantastic volunteer vet teams from the US we make annual visits to all of the family islands including Grand Turk, South Caicos and North & Middle Caicos where currently no vet care exists. The residents from these small less populated islands are totally dependent on the TCSPCA to provide vet care for their pets and the Grand Turk Chapter of the SPCA is doing a remarkable job of helping as many animals as they can.
To date the TCSPCA has performed 5,884 surgeries a remarkable number to report. But the real success does not lie in the numbers but in the change in attitudes towards animals. The dedicated teams of TCSPCA volunteers are responsible for this change as they spend an incredible amount of their personal time explaining to pet owners the importance of pet care.
We now have a waiting list for surgeries, disease control is much better understood, and in some islands puppies are becoming a rarity. There are areas in Provo where almost every dog has been sterilized. 500 dog owners are giving their pet’s regular monthly heartworm preventative and hundreds of puppies are vaccinated against Parvo virus on their way to a healthier and longer life.
There is much work still to be done so the Animal Bus will be on the move until we reach our goal where every animal in the TCI is owned, cared for and free from abuse. Look for us in Grand Turk on June 30th where we will be running a week long S/N clinic with the support of the hard working volunteer vet team from Kindest Cut/IPAW based out of Minnesota.