By Latrishka Thomas
The Antigua Spay and Neuter Clinic saw 422 clients for 2019, and of that number, 221 female dogs were spayed, 52 dogs neutered, 92 cats spayed, and 57 cats neutered.
That is a major increase when compared to the number of dogs and cats sterilised in 2016 when the clinic was founded — only 87 dogs and cats were spayed or neutered.
Rachel Wood President of the Antigua Spay and Neuter Clinic explained that the nonprofit organisation aims to reduce the likelihood of unwanted kittens and puppies being abandoned, which could then result in the over-population of stray dogs and cats on the island.
They, however, cannot sterilise stray dogs but could operate on feral cats.
Wood explained that “the problem is the number is always going to be the same unless we pick every dog up basically and every dog needs to be owned by someone, then we can actually manage the numbers. So that’s what we are trying to work with at the moment with Dog Control.
“There are dogs that are classed as strays and they are outside but people feed them, look after them, give them worm tablets and if they need assistance from the vet they will provide that, but they cannot take them home, they cannot have them in their yard; those are the kind of dogs that we are trying to speak with Dog Control about getting some assistance with at the moment and that will help in that kind of avenue.”
The clinic, located at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium, however, performs spay and neuter surgeries for PAAWS which provides care for abandoned, neglected and/or abused animals.
Wood lobbied for dog and cat sterilization, saying that it offers many benefits.
She said: “breast cancer in dogs is quite common. By spaying your female dogs, it reduces that quite a lot, and also worm infections and any kind of STD, it reduces that. There are an awful lot of health benefits to do it but the main reason to do it is to stop the number of unwanted puppies that are not finding homes.
“Once a dog is six months old, it is old enough. The dog does not need to wait until it has had a litter of puppies to do the surgery,” she further detailed.
Meanwhile, Wood shared that the clinic will be conducting an outreach programme that may begin at the end of this month.
The Spay and Neuter programme is conducted at The Ark Veterinary Clinic every Wednesday by Dr. Fiona Francis.