Friday, 8 April 2011

Baark! representatives inspired by Caribbean Animal Welfare Conference.

I love learning! And Traveling! So what could be better than attending a conference in a place I have never been?

I had the honor of attending the Caribbean Animal Welfare Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico on April 3-5th 2011, hosted by Humane Society International. I was blessed to experience this conference alongside Kim Aranha, President of the BHS, and Lissa McCombe, Board Member of the BHS.  

As we arrived in Puerto Rico on Saturday evening, we had some time on Sunday morning to explore, so Lissa and I went on a zip lining adventure! 

The conference started with an afternoon registration on Sunday April 3rd and a cocktail reception to follow.  We introduced ourselves and started chit chatting to other attendees about what it is we each do in our little parts of the world.  As I imagined, we quickly confirmed that everyone deals with almost the exact same problems throughout the Caribbean.   I feel that the Bahamas is ahead of some countries as our the horse racing track was closed decades ago while many of the other islands deal with the suffering of horses related to the race horse industry. 

We were eager to get started on Monday, like little sponges ready to soak up new ideas. We were thrilled to experience an HSI conference that not only surpassed our expectations but left us inspired and even more passionate for animal welfare in the Bahamas. Monday and Tuesday were filled with top notch, knowledgeable and fantastic speakers.Some of the wonderful people we met were:

Alexandra Rothlisburger is the Program Manager of Latin America & Caribbean for the HSI  and is pictured to the left.

Dellia Holondenschi has implemented an incredible concept call the ‘Cat CafĂ© in St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands  and we are inspired to find volunteers and supporters so that we can start implementing the program here to help cope with our feral cat population in Nassau.  We will be asking the support of local businesses and hotels. 

Marien Rodriquez from Save a Gato  gave us a tour of their project on Wednesday April 6th and we were so impressed with what this volunteer group has accomplished with the stray cats of San Juan.  (pictured right)  

Mike Arms, our most moving and empowering speaker of the conference, had those in attendance in tears twice when he spoke about the idea that “We are in the business of saving lives”. Mike took the time to build us up and told us that we we are not second class citizens because we care about animals. He reminded us that these animals will do anything for us, they are loyal and forgiving and loving, and in return it is our job to protect them.

On a proud  note, Dr. Mark Antonio Butler from the Ministry of Agriculture in The Bahamas was the only government official representative from any country in the Caribbean so we felt that was a great sign of forward thinking from our Ministry of Agriculture.

Listening to the speakers at the conference made me realize just how much more I have to learn, and that there is no end to learning because there are always new ways to see a situation.  The experience was invaluable and has allowed the three of us to come back with new ideas and new contacts in the animal welfare world that will benefit the welfare of Bahamian animals. The conference was concluded with a lovely dinner on Tuesday evening.  After just two days we had made friends with other attendees and shared great stories.  A new friend said to me, ‘It’s just so nice to be together with so many people that understand each others daily frustrations that we have to go through to help the animals.” I agreed.  Being involved with animal welfare is perhaps the most emotionally painful profession you can be in, but it is also the most rewarding and I truly believe that we can see the end to animal suffering in The Bahamas.    

Laura Kimble

p.s We hope to attend the ACES training program at some point very soon in California.

The kind man feeds his beast before sitting down to dinner.  ~Hebrew Proverb

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.  ~Will Durant

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing! Love it! And please do come out and visit in California!!!