SAGA director returns

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 12, No. 18            May 9, 2002

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SAGA Humane Society held their monthly general meeting last Thursday at Ramon's Village Restaurant. Director Bronwen Eastwood, who recently returned to the island, updated those attending of recent happenings.  

   First mentioned was the completion and distribution of SAGA's quarterly newsletter. Special "kudos"  were given to SAGA friend Stephanie Lehmkuhl for producing this informative publication in the director's absence and to Marie Carroll of Gecko Graphics who provided the paper and printing for it. 

    Dr. Eastwood then informed everybody of the many new members and donations received over the past two months. Two boxes of surgical instruments were donated by Pam Smith of Florida, and several packages of Frontline tick and flea medicine was received from Bob & Brenda Nordgren of the US.

    The next subject involved the current weekly "roundup" of stray animals needing attention. Every Wednesday, volunteers (Kathy Marin, William Gustin and Jim Betts) gather dogs and cats (without collars) who appear to need medical attention. These animals are brought to Dr. Eastwood's veterinary clinic and are spayed or neutered by the doctor, and/or treated for fleas, ticks and mange with the help of volunteer Rachel Lockard, a former veterinary technician from the States. Dr. Eastwood advised that, as a way of identifying females who have been sterilized, a split is made in the right ear. As a reminder to those in need, the SAGA indigent program provides help for people needing financial assistance in sterilizing or caring for their pets. Application forms are available at the Ark Veterinary Clinic during normal working hours.

    It was then observed how this type of "roundup" provides a service to the community. It was noted that male dogs do not "pack" as much, and they do not fight over females with each other after they are neutered. One member then recalled the recent number of letters and words of affirmation received regarding the decreasing population of strays on the island. Dr. Eastwood confirmed that "roundups" aid this cause considerably. SAGA friend Vicky Campbell was given special mention for her assistance in taking care of a litter of abandoned kittens she recently found and for finding homes for them as well.

    The next report noted that several resorts (Ramon's Village, Holiday Hotel, Mata Rocks, Royal Palm and Banana Beach) have received assistance with strays in the past couple of weeks. It was mentioned how beneficial letters of support from these businesses and individuals could be if sent to the Belize Tourism Board on behalf of the humane society's efforts. Those attending agreed to remind people of this fact.

    Probably the most exciting financial news of the meeting was the recent E-mail from Attorney Steve Peterson who announced that SAGA has been granted 501C3 tax-exempt status in the US. This was well received as the financial benefits from foundation grants alone could ensure the future goals of the society. It was stated that Mr. Peterson plans to visit the island in the near future and will provide additional information on how the tax-exempt status works when applying for funding or soliciting donations. The director then accepted the services of volunteers Judy Schriner and Liz Cechini to help fill out application forms for grant proposals now that this status has been achieved.

    The next business concerned the sale of calendars. For the record, it was noted there are several boxes of calendars that still need to be sold. A suggestion was made to have them available for sale at the Green Reef Festival. The director added that she was planning to present Green Reef with $2,520 from SAGA sales of the calendars. Much appreciation was expressed for all the businesses and kind people who are aiding in this effort.

    Before ending the meeting, Dr. Eastwood extended her deep appreciation for and gratitude to Dr. Sheila Schmeling of Corozal who provided much-needed veterinary care to the animals of Ambergris Caye in her absence.

    Anyone wishing to purchase calendars (now only $10BZ!) may contact SAGA members or the director at her clinic. Those wishing to aid in the capture of strays or other animals needing assistance may call SAGA or drop off animals inside the gate at the Ark Veterinary Clinic. The public is notified that island cats are reproducing at an alarming rate, creating increasing problems for the society. At the moment, there are several kittens available for adoption which need foster homes. Anyone wishing to temporarily foster animals, or knowing of cats, (tame or wild), or dogs that need to be sterilized, should kindly notify SAGA at 226-3266.



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