June 22, 2006
Bahamas Humane Society
Millions of tourists come to the Bahamas each year for rest and relaxation. Most do not see the sickly street dogs infested with mange or the starving feral cats hoping for a handout. With the beautiful scenery these islands have to offer, it's hard to imagine that they could harbor animal cruelty. But these situations exist all over the world, and tropical island paradises are no exception.
It is estimated that there are 70,000 dogs in the capital of Nassau alone, and some 25,000 are roaming the streets at any given time. And that is only the dog population.
Established in 1924, the Bahamas Humane Society addresses head-on the problem of stray animals and many other concerns. It is affiliated with numerous international animal welfare agencies, including Humane Society International, and it is the only organization in the Caribbean to hold membership in the Standards of Excellence Program sponsored by the American Humane Association, which it has belonged to since 1981. Though it is based in Nassau, Paradise Island, it works with sister organizations on other islands. It is the oldest charity in the Bahamas.
The society runs a clinic that performs sterilizations for approximately 550 animals each year, mostly dogs. It also runs a busy hospital, shelter and adoption center. In addition, it is involved in educational campaigns, mostly targeted at youth.
An annual camp is held in July where children can attend five days of workshops and activities, including temporarily "adopting" an animal at the shelter. This allows a child to experience what it is like to have a pet, and it is a great chance to educate them about proper animal care and welfare. The children also write a biography of their "pet" and receive certificates and t-shirts. Photos from this event have been carried in the local newspapers.
The society visits 45 to 50 schools annually, where Inspector Percy Grant teaches more than 2000 children the importance of responsible pet ownership.
Showing that there is a fun side to fundraising, each year the society hosts a variety of very popular fundraisers supported by dedicated volunteers, individual donors and the community. These include a car raffle, Thanksgiving Ball and Fashion Show.
In addition to the many projects and fundraisers, the Bahamas Humane Society finds time to focus on widespread problems, including animal fighting and swim-with-dolphin programs. The latter has become more popular as cruise lines add more Bahamas locales to their itineraries.
To address these and other problems, the society has hosted development training for government officials, promoted their stand through media events and lobbied for appropriate legislation. It is truly a standard-setting organization, supported by dedicated staff and enthusiastic volunteers.
HSI is proud to have the Bahamas Humane Society as one of two Animal Advocate awardees for 2006.