|Dr. Bron Eastwood
true friendship is rare and should be cherished and well cared for. But a true
friend can also be right in front of you without you knowing it. Does the phrase
"man's best friend" sound familiar? A pet is said to be loyal to its owner and
will remain by your side during your best and worst moments. A pet, for many, is
thought of as a member of the family and should be considered as such. It needs
love and attention and it will reciprocate the same. Unfortunately, not all
people feel this way about these creatures, but being domestic animals, they
rely on humans for their basic needs. This week we are pleased to introduce a
person who has spent a great deal of her time taking care of all types of
animals abroad and now in Belize-Dr. Bronwen Eastwood.
Bronwen Eastwood was born in London, England on January 18th, 1967. From eighteen months old until
she was three, Bron lived in Ghana in Africa. Being surrounded by an abundance
of beautiful wildlife developed her passion for animals. Although she did not
have a lot of pets of her own growing up, she was the type of girl that would
tend to any kind of injured wild creature. From that time, Bron realized her
calling in life to work with animals. When she returned to London, she completed
her elementary and secondary studies. In 1986, Bron enrolled in the Royal
Veterinary College at the University of London. She completed a five-year
program and earned her degree as a Veterinary Surgeon.
For three years after her certification, Dr. Eastwood was employed at Brighton's
Montague Veterinary Clinic in southern England. In 1995, she accepted a
wonderful opportunity to work as a veterinarian for eighteen months at the Sinai
Wildlife Project in Egypt. She particularly enjoyed this area of the world
because of the spectacular scuba diving. Upon her return to England, Dr.
Eastwood was employed for a year at an animal clinic in Hampshire before taking
a job in Kingston, London at a practice that was "going under" financially. She
took on this challenge and in a short time managed to raise the clinic and its
profits to new heights. This accomplishment was very satisfying to the young
doctor and, for a time, she considered becoming a partner in this enterprise.
Instead, Dr. Bron made plans to work part of the year in London and the
remainder of the time abroad, in India. None of these plans became reality
though, when a love interest happened into her life. The doctor met Maarten
Hoffmann, a businessman with future plans of relocating to Belize. Dr. Bron
opted to join him in his new venture and in November of 1998, the couple arrived
on Ambergris Caye. She immediately fell in love with the island and applied for
her veterinary license but found it necessary to travel back to England for
short periods because she missed her work with the
Back in Belize, Dr. Bron found herself with free
time on her hands. She ended up meeting other residents concerned about the
enormous amount of stray animals on the island. With the help of one other
resident, the first humane society of Ambergris Caye, SAGA Society, was created.
SAGA's aim to find safer, more humane ways to control the animal population led
to a membership drive. A Board of Directors was formed and the society was
registered with the Government of Belize. Fundraising efforts followed, with the
ultimate goal of establishing an animal shelter, and subsequently improving the
quality of life for animals on the island. As the Director of SAGA Society, Dr.
Bron has contributed much to the welfare of the animals on the island. Many have
been rescued from near-death states and through a bit of tender loving care,
adopted into happy families. Others have been humanely put to rest when there
was no other alternative. From working with the Health Inspector and Town
Council to the education of the island's elementary school children, Dr.
Eastwood continues to carry out SAGA's mission. She has recently written a grant
proposal for the organization, and has mailed it to over 50 animal foundations
around the world in hopes of receiving donations for this cause. The doctor is
also personally responsible for publishing the first SAGA newsletter. Dr.
Eastwood has attended the past two annual meetings of the Humane Society's
United States Congress, along with representatives from thirty countries
worldwide. Receiving full scholarships to attend both five-day congresses, Dr.
Eastwood enhanced her knowledge of ways to control strays, to effectively
license animals, and to manage an animal shelter (with practical training). She
also received countless educational tools and learned various treatment methods
while attending various seminars.
Dr. Eastwood feels that
the main problem on Ambergris Caye is a lack of understanding of the many
responsibilities that come with owning a pet. She commented, "People tend to
fall in love with puppies and kittens because they're cute, but when they grow
up these animals are put to one side and neglected. If you adopt a puppy or
kitten, it is yours for possibly ten or more years, not just six months." Dr.
Eastwood stated another problem is owners who are not aware of, or simply not
taking, preventative measures. "Pets are more at risk for disease here because
of the lack of proper vaccination. There is also an attitude that owners don't
need to neuter their pets. It is our responsibility to look out for them,"
stated Dr. Eastwood.
After two years, Dr.
Eastwood has finally been granted her license to practice veterinary medicine in
Belize. She has recently opened her own practice and animal clinic. The "Ark" is
located in the thatch-roof casita (small house) opposite Ramon's Village on
Coconut Drive. Dr. Eastwood now provides clinical examinations, consultations,
testing, various surgeries (including spaying and neutering) and many other
necessary animal services. A variety of pet medications, accessories and treats
are available as well. Clinic hours are Monday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30
p.m. and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. As San Pedro's first permanent
veterinarian, Dr. Bron says she will do her best to keep prices affordable to
encourage more owners to properly care for their pets.
Apart from her busy schedule with SAGA, Dr. Eastwood has recently been appointed
Chairperson for the Animal Control Committee, a branch of the of the San Pedro
Advisory Committee. Besides the many turtles, birds and other wildlife she has
rehabilitated on the island, she also volunteers her services to the Belize
Marine Mammal Stranding Network (BMMSN). Her work with this program, sponsored
by Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute, is instrumental in the
preservation and rescue of Belize's manatees.
Eastwood has now made Ambergris Caye her permanent home and is eager to solve
the stray cat and dog population problem on the island. Through her veterinary
skills and love for all wildlife she has become the "Dr. Doolittle" of "Our