National Focus

The Humane Society of Grand Bahama (HSGB) one of the oldest nonprofit organizations in the community is in danger of closing its facilities, Elizabeth â Tipâ Burrows, HSGB executive director announced on Wednesday, January 28.

Founded in 1968, the HSGB has grown from a small charity providing the essential service of caring for unwanted, abandoned, abused and neglected animals from throughout the Grand Bahama community, to the largest animal shelter in The Bahamas.

According to Burrows, â We have done our best to alleviate animal suffering as well as nuisance, stray and roaming animals on this island and are proud of all we have accomplished.

â At just the time we should be working even harder to achieve a lasting difference, the HSGB is in the untenable situation of being unable to continue operating, which would ultimately mean an increase in the number of starving, neglected dogs and cats roaming the island that would not be pleasant for residents, visitors or potential investors.

â The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) funds the HSGB to a certain extent in exchange for providing animal control services within the bonded area however, over the last several years they have reduced their contributions for the services to the point that we can no longer provide the same level of service.⠝

At the onset of 2015, three HSGB staffers had been laid off Burrows revealed, adding that due to the organization not being in a position to pay all its bills or employees, not only are more lay-offs imminent but also the number of animals the institution cares for would be drastically reduced.

The HSGB executive director also claimed that in most developed nations, animal control is considered a responsibility of government however, the Bahamas Government has never provided funding toward the organizationâ s work neither does it provide animal services on Grand Bahama.

â Complicating further the challenges the HSGB faces is the recent (July 2014) Bahamas Department Agriculture requirement to issue a health certificate endorsement for any dog we send abroad and the new restriction that these dogs must be at least six months old.

â The HSGB paid the Bahamas Government over $1,500 from August to December for these endorsements.

â We were told this would be a temporary measure lasting approximately three months due to the Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) outbreak in Nassau however, the organization was informed on Monday January 26th, that the restrictions and costs remain in place even though Grand Bahama has not registered one single suspected or known CDV case.

â Beginning today (January 28th), we are closing our shelter to intake for one month, which would allow us to continue to reduce our shelter population without 100 plus animals coming in simultaneously,⠝ Burrows said.

Committed to elevating its resources and options, the HSGB board and staff are devising and implementing a plan going forward in which the organization would be able to continue providing some level of service.

Pet overpopulation is a community problem that the HSGB needs the communityâ s help to solve said Burrows, who implored residents to write or call their elected officials urging them to give support and government financial assistance to the organization as well as enact the Animal Protection and Control Act of 2010.

Import restrictions for dog breeding should also be a consideration of the government Burrows added, noting, â and we also need more of the community to support us by way of donations, volunteerism, adopting pets and attending HSGB fundraisers.

â Please pet owners be responsible, spay and neuter your pets and commit to them for life,⠝ she concluded.

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