Monday, January 31, 2011

The Harsh Reality of Pet Overpopulation & Neglect - My Experience in the Bahamas- Kansas City Dog Photography

In case you wondered why you haven't seen a blog post lately, I have been in the Bahamas on vacation for a week and just returned back to the States. While I assumed this would be a trip full of relaxation and carefree thoughts on the beach, I was given a gentle reminder about pet overpopulation in other areas besides the United States. I happened to meet a stray kitty at our resort and also an emaciated, very sick doggy who was hiding in the woods across from our hotel. I must say that while I photograph dogs at shelters, I usually encounter these animals after they are nursed back to health or in the process of becoming healthy. I have never been that up close and personal with a dog that was quite literally starving to death before my eyes. I could barely look at him because my heart broke. I have a new respect for my friends in the rescue community who physically find and rescue strays and rehabilitate them on a daily basis.

I felt totally helpless when I brought food and water to this doggy and he was just too sick to even eat or realize he needed food anymore. The harsh reality was that he probably needed to be euthanized, due to his severe emaciation, leg injury and because he was in the Bahamas where there are not as many rescue resources to rehabilitate him and too many strays to even begin to count. But, I kept bringing him food because I thought maybe I could help save him. Unfortunately, I don't think I was able to save him in my short stay in the Bahamas. However, I am thankful for this experience and being shown a deeper level of animal neglect and cruelty, so I may educate others as well.

I circled the doggy here in red. As you can see, he was too scared to even come very close to me. This was him walking away after sneaking a quick drink of water, but no food.

According to the ASPCA, approximately 8-12 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide every year & approximately 5-9 million are euthanized. Estimates for stray cats in the u.s. alone range up to 70 million. Startling, yes. Spay & neuter!!! And do not bring a pet into your life unless you understand its a lifelong commitment. Five out of ten dogs in shelters and seven out of ten cats in shelters are destroyed simply because there is no one to adopt them. It is impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States; estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.

The Kitty at the Beach

Here was the sweet face I was greeted with on my first day at the resort while eating at the hotel's outdoor restaurant and bar. I fed her some of my fish.

Here she is again the next day. She was hanging around the trash can outside on the beach and came over to me on my lounge chair. After seeing her around the trash, it really hit me that this kitty was not getting food like she should, even though she was hanging around a resort full of food resources! I could feel her bones sticking out. She tried to smile for me here... haha!

I gave her water and ordered her a fish everyday I was at the resort. I fed her the fish in little pieces and she was so very gentle.

I even ordered her milk each day as well, which she seemed to really enjoy! I later learned that cats can actually be lactose intolerant... so this kitty might have some gas because of me... but hopefully was fattened up and happy for the moment!

The next day, my furry friend showed up and found me around the hammock.

My last day with the kitty. I was so thankful that we crossed paths. I even feel a deeper connection with cats now and the desire to photograph shelter cats more than I have before. I feel everything happens for a specific reason in life, according to plan, and this bittersweet experience was definitely no accident.

The Bahamas Humane Society

Founded in 1924, the Bahamas Humane Society is the oldest charity in the Bahamas. The fee for adopting a dog is $40, for a puppy $30, for a cat $20 and for a kitten $15. These fees include the cost of spaying or neutering your new pet.

The Bahamas proposed Animal Protection and Control Bill mandates the insertion of identification microchips in dogs sold by breeders, a new board to oversee animal control matters and a series of fines for practices such as having dogs without identification collars in public places. Agriculture Minister Larry Cartwright presented the bill for first reading to the House of Assembly last week. The bill is intended to modernize animal control regulations in the country. The animal protection and control board would serve as the body empowered to regulate animal control issues. The 12-member board would include two veterinarians, a member of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, a member from the Humane Society, along with other defined appointees.

The bill mandates annual dog licensing — a practice included in current legislation. Some of the penalties in the bill include: a $250 fine for having an unlicensed dog, a $50 fine for having a dog without an identification collar in public, a $250 fine for allowing an animal to roam at large, a $50 fine for having an unleashed dog in public, a $500 fine for having an out-of-control dog in a public place and a $100 fine for failure to microchip a dog as prescribed in the bill. The bill also proposes regulations on animals perceived as dangerous.

Under the bill authorities are empowered to make orders that dangerous animals are, for example, spayed or neutered; microchipped for identification; kept in approved enclosures; and muzzled in public. It would also be mandated that owners pick of the feces of dogs when they defecate in public places.


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