There will be a spay and neuter clinic for dogs and cats this weekend – Saturday, April 23 and Sunday, April 24 – at the cottage beside Caroline and Brian Sawyer’s home on Green Turtle Cay. Both dogs and cats are welcome.
Want to help animals and have fun in the Bahamas? Volunteers are needed for an Abaco Spay/Neuter Clinic being held in Marsh Harbour April 24 to 26 (Friday to Sunday).
Sponsored by Royal Potcake Rescue USA, BAARK, the Abaco Shelter, Hope Town Humane Society and the Island Veterinary Clinic, the 3-day event will provide free sterilization for local dogs and cats to help control and reduce the stray populations.
Volunteers must arrive in Marsh Harbour (MHH) on or before Thursday, April 23 and stay through to Monday, April 27. Accommodations will be provided for out-of-towners, though you’ll be responsible for your own travel costs (which I understand may be tax-deductible.)
You’ll also be responsible for your housing, transportation and other expenses before or after the clinic weekend, if you choose to come earlier or stay longer. (If I were you, I’d stick around a week and come to Green Turtle Cay for the Island Roots Heritage Festival May 1-3…)
Interested? You’ll need to complete a Volunteer Application before April 1. For more information, contact Royal Potcake Rescue USA through their website or Facebook page. And for a preview of what to expect, here’s my report from last year’s event.
If you’ve spent time in Abaco, you’ve no doubt encountered stray dogs, known locally as potcakes. In the past, many of these creatures were left, emaciated, injured and/or diseased, to fend for themselves.
Today, however, non-profit organizations such as the Abaco Shelter (aka Pop’s Shelter) and Royal Potcake Rescue rescue Abaco’s strays, giving them food, shelter, medical care and love, and finding them forever homes.
To help control the local potcake (and potcat) population, Abaco’s animal rescue groups are co-sponsoring a series of spay and neuter clinics over the next few months.
Clinics are scheduled as follows:
- Marsh Harbour — October 24-26 at the Island Veterinary Clinic
- Sandy Point — November 8-9
- Foxtown — December 6-7
- Green Turtle Cay — December 13-14 (cats only)
Approximately 200 animals were sterilized at a similar clinic this past April, and organizers are hoping for comparable results at the upcoming events.
However, the success of clinics like these depends in large part on contributions from folks like you and me.
To donate online, visit the Abaco Shelter website or Royal Potcake Rescue Donations Page. (Royal Potcake Rescue is a 501(c)(3) non-profit rescue organization, meaning U.S. donations to this organization are tax-deductible.)
Donations can also be made in person at the Abaco Shelter (please make checks to Pop’s Shelter.)
In addition to financial support, clinic organizers are seeking donations of the following items:
- # 10 scalpel blades
- 3×3 or 4×4 cotton gauze pads
- Bottled water
- Canned dog food
- Coloured duct tape
- Cotton balls
- Disposable gloves
- Flea and tick spray
- Gallon-sized Ziploc bags
- Garbage bags
- IV catheters – cats 24g x 3/4″, dogs 29g x 1 1/4″
- Kennels – all sizes
- Paper towels
- Scrub brushes
- Sheets and towels
- Slip leashes
- Surgical drapes (disposable or cloth)
- Syringes & needles – 1cc majority, 3cc, & 20 or 10cc
- Vet wrap
If you can contribute any of these items or if you’d like more information about the clinics, contact the Abaco Shelter at (242) 367-0737 between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., or the Island Veterinary Clinic at (242) 577-0397, Monday through Friday.
Free Vaccine Clinic
In conjunction with the Marsh Harbour spay/neuter event this weekend, Island Veterinary Clinic is offering a FREE Vaccine Clinic on October 25, beginning at 9:00 a.m.
Two hundred units of vaccine will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
Dogs must be older than six weeks and should NOT have been vaccinated this year. All dogs must have a (free) check-up before vaccination.
For more details, contact the Island Veterinary Clinic Monday through Friday at (242) 577-0397.
If you plan to bring your dog to the Bahamas in the near future, you may want to bypass Nassau altogether.
If you must bring your pet to Nassau, or if you’re currently there, be sure your dog is properly vaccinated, and adhere to the following guidelines:
- Do not transport dogs of any age from Nassau to other Bahamian islands, as it appears that the latter remain distemper-free.
- Keep dogs on your property or vessel. Limit walks and avoid contact with other dogs for at least the next three weeks.
- Use a mix of 30 parts water to 1 part bleach to disinfect surfaces, shoes, feet, etc.
The good news is that, in warm climates and sunlight, the distemper virus is killed off within a few hours. During that time, however, it’s highly contagious.
More than half of all distemper cases are fatal and there is no known cure. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), distemper is passed from dog to dog through direct contact with fresh urine, blood or saliva. Dogs can also contract distemper by sharing food and water bowls, or by being nearby coughing and sneezing dogs. Early signs of distemper include sneezing, coughing, running eyes or nose, fever, lethargy, sudden vomiting and diarrhea, depression and/or loss of appetite.
The Veterinary Medical Association of the Bahamas says the disease is NOT a risk to humans or cats.
For more information, or if you suspect your dog may be infected, contact a local vet or the Bahamas Humane Society. Authorities ask that, to avoid infecting other animals, you do not bring the animal into veterinary waiting rooms without advance arrangements.
Perhaps I shouldn’t wonder, given the potcake’s gentle nature, but most of the two dozen or so dogs crated in the front yard of Marsh Harbour’s Island Veterinary Clinic seemed surprisingly calm. Many adult dogs watched the volunteers around them with apparent interest. Six recently rescued five-week old pups napped in tangled piles, limbs splayed. A seventh slept, curled up in an empty food bowl.
For many animals, it was likely their first time being crated — possibly even their first time at a vet’s office. But, peacefully and patiently, they waited.
Inside the clinic, the mood was much more energetic. Twenty or so volunteers from a variety of rescue organizations including Royal Potcake Rescue USA, BAARK, the Abaco Shelter and the Hope Town Humane Society, and three veterinarians — Dr. Bailey from Marsh Harbour, Dr. Dorsett from Nassau and Dr. Wildgoose from Freeport — ran an impressive and efficient operation.
The dogs and cats on the front lawn were recent arrivals, each of whom had been assigned a number. Corresponding paperwork was completed and attached to each crate.
One at a time, the animals were brought to a makeshift sedation area in the clinic’s front office. Once the anesthetic had taken effect, each was carried into one of three operating rooms.
Post-surgery, potcakes and potcats were brought to the recovery area, where each was assigned a volunteer. Volunteers stayed with the animals, gave them TLC and ensured there were no complications as the sedation wore off.
Eighty-two dogs and cats were spayed and neutered on Friday. At that rate, the clinic will likely exceed its goal of 200 animals treated over the three-day event. The clinic continues until mid-day on Sunday, April 27.
An update to my recent post about the plight of the Bahamian potcake…
I hadn’t heard of AmazonSmile before now, but it’s a great program that lets you to support your favourite charity while you shop Amazon.com. You get access to Amazon’s normal selection, prices and shopping experience, but Amazon donates o.5% of your purchase price to the charity of your choice. What could be easier?
A percentage of your sales will be donated to Royal Potcake Rescue any time you shop through AmazonSmile.
As an added bonus just for today, however, Amazon will contribute $5 per purchase to RPR. You get stuff you were going to buy anyway, and the potcake rescue program gets $5. It’s a real win-win.
A reminder also that there are only 4 days left to donate to the Indiegogo online fundraiser supporting the upcoming potcake spay/neuter clinic in Marsh Harbour, Abaco. If you can contribute – even if it’s just a few dollars – please do!
P.S. Both the pups pictured in this post are available for adoption through Royal Potcake Rescue.
Despite how it sounds, potcakes have nothing to do with illicit substances. They’re mixed-breed, indigenous dogs from the Bahamas or the Turks & Caicos islands.
Nobody knows for sure where the name originated, but many Bahamians believe it came from the thick, leftover mixture remaining at the bottom of a pot of rice after multiple reheatings. This “potcake,” as it was known, was often fed to stray mutts.
Given the relatively small gene pool from which they evolved, many potcakes exhibit similar traits. Typically, they’re slim, short-haired, medium-size hounds. Most are tan, brown, black or some combination thereof.
Though strays can weigh as little as 25 pounds, a healthy, well-cared-for potcake weighs 35-50 pounds. As any potcake owner will attest, they’re lovely and loving dogs, with beautiful features and gentle temperaments.
It’s said that there are more than 5,000 stray potcakes roaming the streets in Nassau, and another 2,500 stray and/or unaltered dogs on Abaco and its cays. It’s heartbreakingly common to see these malnourished strays foraging for food and water alongside the road.
Fortunately, a number of organizations, including Royal Potcake Rescue USA, Potcake Rescue Bahamas, the Humane Society of Grand Bahama, Abaco Shelter, the Bahamas Alliance for Animal Rights and Kindness (BAARK), Operation Potcake and the Hope Town Humane Society are working to improve the plight of the potcake. They rescue strays, spay/neuter them, provide medical care and find them forever homes – not just in the Bahamas, but in the U.S., Canada and beyond.
To help control and reduce Abaco’s potcake population, Royal Potcake Rescue USA (“RPR”), BAARK, Abaco Shelter, the Hope Town Humane Society and Abaco veterinarian, Dr. Derrick Bailey, are teaming up to hold a spay/neuter clinic in Marsh Harbour April 25-27. Their goal is to spay/neuter 250 potcakes — 100 more than were sterilized during a similar clinic held this past October.
Several veterinarians will travel from Nassau to Abaco on their own time and provide services and supplies at significantly reduced prices. Aside from medical staff, the clinic will be manned by Bahamian and American volunteers. Total cost per animal will be approximately $50, or $12,500 total.
To raise these funds, RPR is undertaking several initiatives. They still have a fair way to go to achieve their fundraising goal, so please, please help if you can.
RPR is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit pet rescue organization, meaning American donors will receive tax receipts for donations. Depending on the level at which you donate, you could also receive an exclusive Potcakes of Abaco bumper sticker, can cooler, T-shirt or tote bag.
Donations can also be made through RPR’s website or mailed to: Royal Potcake Rescue USA, PO Box 56050, Atlanta, GA 30343.
VOLUNTEER at the April spay/neuter clinic. RPR relies on volunteers to help with trapping, transporting, vet assistance, recovery, cleaning, record-keeping and other tasks. If you’re interested in an enjoyable and rewarding “spaycation”, here’s the volunteer application.
TRANSPORT A POTCAKE back to the U.S. If you’re traveling from Abaco to Florida or Atlanta, you can help by bringing a potcake puppy back with you. RPR looks after all paperwork and provides the carrier. All you have to do is bring the pup (which usually weighs 10 lbs or less), in its carrier onto the plane and keep it under the seat in front of you during the flight. A RPR volunteer will meet you at the airport to collect the puppy and deliver it to its foster or forever home. For more information, visit RPR’s How You Can Help page.
FOSTER A POTCAKE. If you live in or near Atlanta, GA, consider fostering a potcake until its forever home can be found. RPR takes care of all medical costs — all you have to do is provide a home, the day-to-day basics and lots of love. If you’re in Florida and can pick up a potcake pup at the airport, you could foster him/her for a short period of time until RPR can arrange to get the dog back to Atlanta. For more information, visit RPR’s How You Can Help page.
Should you need a bit more motivation to lend a hand, here are just a few of the potcakes currently available for adoption through Royal Potcake Rescue USA and Potcake Rescue Bahamas. Who could say no to these adorable faces?
Photos courtesy of Royal Potcake Rescue USA and Potcake Rescue Bahamas.
Next time: Adopting Your Own Bahamian Potcake