I am sharing this story as today’s column because each person to whom it was told expressed heartfelt delight or gratitude at hearing some much-needed “good news.”
In the midst of dangerously tilting oil tankers, nationals stranded "in foreign," senseless murders, prolific sexual offences against minors, DSS schemes and other "newsworthy items" dominating local media, there are many uplifting events deserving of coverage.
Last week an animal-loving friend who lives in a residential compound in Tobago called to borrow my cat trap and a large dog crate. Her aim was to trap the feral cats on the compound, get them spayed/neutered and, ideally, adopted. In the past, many more cats roamed the area, but the population has dwindled to about six in recent times. One can only surmise what may have become of those who are no longer around.
“Cats are sweet and loving, but become a ‘bother’ for many people if there are too many of them," my friend said. “People get annoyed by them and tend to do cruel things.”
Unfortunately, sometimes when people are overwhelmed by rapidly multiplying local feral cat populations, they lay poison to eliminate the unsuspecting creatures.
“It’s better to invest time and money to spay and neuter them,” my friend said, articulating the humane solution to animal overpopulation.
Armed with a cat trap and a large dog crate in which to secure trapped felines, I went to assist my friend in setting up for "Operation Trap/Spay/Neuter." It is not always easy to find homes for cats, so my friend’s secondary plan was to relinquish them to the Tobago SPCA, where they would be spayed/neutered, housed and one day, hopefully, adopted.
“There is one really sweet cat that we like,” my friend said. “She’s so friendly. I wish we could find a home for her and not have to send her to the shelter.”
As fate would have it, that cat was the first to be trapped.
“Send me a photo of her,” I said, intending to post it to the Venus Doggess Of Love Facebook page in hopes that someone would adopt.
The photo of the cat in the trap was not particularly appealing, but the way she appeared to rub her head lovingly against my friend’s hand in the image was heartwarming. I posted the photo with a short explanation.
The next morning, a message from a Trinidadian single mother, Krystle, was waiting in the inbox of the animal rescue Facebook page. Krystle had seen the photo of the cat on the page and was reminded of the feline with whom she and her young son, Liam, had fallen in love during a ten-day August vacation at a Tobago villa. Unable to get the cat out of her mind, she had wondered what became of her, feeling in her heart that this special feral cat belonged with them.
Imagine our mutual excitement upon confirming that the trapped cat was the one Liam had named Blinkey.
Without skipping a beat, Krystle agreed to adopt her and swiftly purchased a pink collar, nametag and litter box. Wheels were set in motion to fly the fortunate feline to her new home.
On several occasions when Venus Doggess Of Love’s Tobago rescues have been adopted to Trinidad, certain pilots of Caribbean Airlines have kindly facilitated transport of the precious cargo. Many thanks to that morning’s pilot, who ensured that Blinkey was safely delivered into the loving arms of a very excited Krystle, who could not wait to surprise Liam with their new pet.
“I love the idea of adopting and giving an animal a second chance,” she said.
Having grown up with dogs, Krystle, who was “never really a cat person,” but is now a convert, fully understands the importance of her son, and children in general, living with pets. Animals give and encourage love, teach responsibility, provide companionship and are natural therapists for stress and anxiety reduction.
Recently the Tobago House of Assembly's Division of Health, Wellness, and Family Development pledged a monthly subvention of $10,000 to the Tobago branch of the TT Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Perhaps tides are turning and those "in power" are recognising the need to invest in the welfare of the island’s animals.
Government-funded islandwide animal sterilisation clinics, in tandem with regular adoption of homeless animals to safe, loving responsible homes, could go a long way in reducing Tobago’s street animal population and increasing heart-warming animal-related stories.