by Gemma Handy
It’s been on the road less than a week and it’s already triggered a surge in bookings and put smiles on countless people’s faces.
Emblazoned with eye-catching images of furry four-legged friends, the Antigua Spay & Neuter Clinic’s revamped vehicle is helping spread the message of how to reduce the number of roaming animals on the country’s streets.
Since its 2017 inception, the non-profit, donation-dependent group has operated on more than 2,300 dogs and cats – helping prevent the birth of many thousands more.
The clinic’s cofounder Jane Seagull told Observer that within minutes of the ‘SNIP’ van hitting the road last Thursday two cats were booked in by a man who had spotted it going by and jotted down the number.
“The next morning a lady called and said she had seen the van and booked her cat in. Since then I have booked five more dogs; it’s going gangbusters,” Seagull grinned.
“I keep having people call me and comments on our Facebook page saying, what a smile I had watching that van go by,” she added.
The cheerful wrap job was donated by Chefs’ World owners – and keen animal lovers – Julian Waterer and Marie Roberts whose own rescue dog Arnie features in its design.
Seagull said the van – which was also acquired with the help of a donation last year – is now set to head out on community outreach work.
Tents will be set up in various villages across Antigua with residents invited to chat with the team and get free medical advice for their pets.
“They can come down and talk to us about those little medical problems that animals get that many people aren’t aware of. Lots of people don’t know, for example, that heartworm is transmitted by mosquitos,” Seagull explained.
The van will also help with ‘trap, neuter, release’ programmes, such as in areas where there is a deluge of felines.
“We will trap them, bring them all in in the ‘SNIP’ van, get them done and take them back. So the cats will still be in the community but no longer producing more cats,” Seagull added.
Spaying and neutering dogs and cats not only stops them breeding, it also helps protect them from illnesses including some cancers and venereal disease.
Low cost spay and neuter procedures take place at The Ark in Sir Vivian Richards Street, St John’s, each Wednesday. Call 788-3647 to make an appointment.