2018 Blue Mountains, Jamaica
A group from The Global Alliance for Animals and People recently travelled to The Animal House Shelter in Jamaica. The Animal House Shelter provides care and housing for stray dogs from across the island. At the time of our visit, there were 132 dogs in residence with 5 full time caretakers.
Our plan was to spay 41 females, neuter 5 male puppies, vaccinate some of the dogs for Distemper/Parvovirus, deworm all of the dogs and test all of the dogs for Heartworm, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma and Lyme Disease. Unfortunately, the Jamaican veterinary regulator and Ministry of Health had other ideas. At the last minute, the regulator declined to issue a temporary license due to inadequate time to make a determination (request was made over 4 months ago) and the Ministry of Health was unable to issue a permit for the drugs/vaccine to be brought into the country since we did not have a veterinary license. This left us unable to do any surgery and without any antibiotics to treat the few infections of various types that we saw.
We were able to deworm the dogs and do the testing. Sadly, there were 23 heartworm positive dogs, 52 Ehlichia positive dogs, and 6 Anaplasma positive dogs. These dogs will all require treatment and run the risk of contracting the diseases again as the Shelter has inadequate funds for heartworm and tick prevention.
The dogs at The Animal House Shelter are housed in groups and allowed time to roam in the large yard daily. The dogs are happy and get along well with each other and any humans they come in contact with. When arriving at the shelter, you are greeted with excited barks and tail wags. Only a small percentage of dogs are placed in homes in Jamaica. The majority of dogs that are adopted are flown to other Caribbean islands, Europe, the United States and Canada. Many dogs are destined to live out their lives at The Animal House. While the dogs have food, shelter and human companionship, one cannot help but be saddened by the fact that many will never know the joy of living in a household with a family that loves and cares for them.
The Animal House does all it can with limited resources. The majority of its funds are spent on food and emergency care for injured/ill animals. There is little money left for elective surgeries such as spays and neuters, though every effort is made to neuter all male dogs to prevent unwanted pregnancies. We are hoping to come to an agreement with the government and regulator so that we can try this trip again within the next year.