Thursday, 23 February 2012

Baark! Youth Ambassadors trained and ready to make a difference.

Baark! has always focused on the prevention of  animal suffering through a spay and neuter program, but did you know we also have in our mandate the importance of education as another method of prevention. This past Saturday Baark! enlisted some children to help educate their own communities about responsible pet ownership and the spay and neuter program. Baark! provided the training for the eager children so they could go back to their homes and neighbourhoods and be ambassadors for proper animal care, responsible pet owners and advocates for our spay and neuter program. The program took place on Saturday February the 18th. Thanks to the amazing efforts and sponsors Baark! was able to see 35 young Bahamian children trained as ambassadors for the welfare of Bahamian animals.   

The day started in the parking lot of St. James Native Baptist church where eager participants arrived anticipating a very fun and inspiring day. Some of the children were so excited they arrived well ahead of schedule so to make sure they did not miss the program! We love that attitude!

Ms. Moodie and Dr.  Lowe from the BHS were on hand to provide the children with a fantastic lecture about responsible pet ownership as well be on hand for a fabulous Q&A session. After which they were guided to the bus, generously donated by Dan Knowles Tours, upon which they were driven to the field trip portion of the day.

During the field trip the children were given firsthand experience of the straybusting aspect of our spay and neuter program.  Straybusting is a “made up word for the physical act of collecting the dogs from the communities to get them spayed and neutered” mentioned Shelley, a tireless advocate for Bahamian animals. The children were able to help set traps and lay the bait for the dogs roaming a nearby neighborhood. The energy and enthusiasm might have scared away a few of the dogs but in the end the day was successful as 16 dogs were taken into various veterinary clinics to undergo their spay or neuter procedure. But more than that, the straybusting team had to go back during the following week to follow up on more requests made by residents of that community who were interested in getting their dog spay or neutered. In total Baark! will be doing a total of 44 spay and neuters in the St. James Road area. Charged with sharing their excitement and passion for creating a neighbourhood with a healthy and happier animal population, the children did a fabulous job on only their first outing.  16 animals have been helped and dozens of neighbourhood residents were impacted with knowledge and support.

It should be noted that the funds to do our Spay Day 2012 were received from The Pegasus Foundation through Humane Society international - $3,000. A huge thank you for their generous gift which allowed us to help many animals! Also, during the field trip portion of the day our field trip, On the Run and Windermere were inspired to sponsor 50 children from the area to attend the BHS Animal fun day on the 26th. Thank you to for allowing these children to enjoy a day filled with fun activities and animals that make our world so special!

Next and last stop on the field trip was the Bahamas Humane Society. At the BHS the children were given a tour of the facilities and educated about the various animals that were currently being housed within.  Interactions with goats, horses, roosters, and of course dogs and cats were had by all the children and volunteers. It was easy to see the children gain confidence as they connected with the various animals and became more comfortable with them. It was the interaction with the animals themselves that seemed to be the best teachers for the children; however it is vital to point out that the volunteers who helped out in this program provided amazing examples of how to respect and treat animals. Thank you to the volunteers for being fantastic role models to our young Baark! Ambassadors.

The time closed with a generous pizza party donated by  Domino’s Pizza, which goes without saying was a huge hit with the children! Before leaving, the children were given a gift bag containing a Baark  T shirt, pencil, sharpener, flip flops donated by Contrax Ltd., and Windermere Day Spa, activity books, and several other fun animal related items, as a way to say thank you for coming.

The children are all back in their homes, schools and communities by now and what Baark! hopes is that they started talking and sharing about all they learned and saw on their adventure with baark! We trust that through education and hands on experiences these beautiful children become Ambassadors for Animal rights and kindness in the Bahamas.

Again, thank you to the amazing donors and supporters of Saturday’s program, without you and your kindness our programs would not have been such a success.

It should also be noted that Baark! held a community meeting on Wednesday Feb 15th at St. James Native Baptist Church and had Sheba, and Fiona and Percy there from the education department at the BHS.