Humane Society Directors meet

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 13, No. 2            January 23, 2003

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Members of the Board of Directors for Saga Humane Society met recently to elect a new board of directors and to discuss, among other issues, interest in continuing the operation of the veterinary clinic in San Pedro. Present for the meeting were Marie Carroll, Mary Hawthorne, Judy Schreiner and Eileen Jamison.

    Before conducting any business, the chairperson first reviewed Saga's past year of activities. She acknowledged that Saga's road to success had taken some very interesting turns in the last six months but because of the hard work and dedication of Saga's board and volunteers, the Society was still functioning quite well. She commended all those responsible for the major accomplishments listed as follows. February - Director Eastwood received Non-Governmental Organization status for Saga Society from the Government of Belize. April - Attorney Steve Peterson declared that Saga had received its 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States. May - Saga volunteers initiated the first of many stray animal roundups. Dogs and cats were captured, sterilized and released, or euthanased based on the condition of their health. June - Veterinarian Richard Taylor and his wife Jo, a veterinary nurse, arrived on island to assume Dr. Eastwood's responsibilities during her upcoming one-year absence. July - Saga Director and co-founder, veterinarian Bron Eastwood resigned and departed for England. August - Saga developed a working relationship with Ambergris Caye Health Inspector Javier Alpuche who offered his assistance with the Society's mission. The Taylors initiated cat trapping to reduce the number of feral cats reproducing on the island. Several directors and volunteers represented Saga at an educational booth at the International Costa Maya Festival held in San Pedro. September - Due to unforeseen health and financial challenges, Dr. Richard & Mrs. Taylor reluctantly left the island. October - At the request of Saga, Corozal veterinarian, Dr. Sheila Schmeling came to the aid of the Society by offering her services for a minimal fee every Friday. An agreement was reached between Saga Society and Mayor Nuñez and the San Pedro Town Councilors, to allow Saga to assist with humane euthanasia as part of the town's dog eradication program. November - Saga participated in Tourism Day at Central Park with an educational display. Saga members and volunteers conducted the first-ever Saga Rabies Clinic at the Lions Den vaccinating 77 animals with support from the Ministry of Health and PAHO/WHO. To the delight of all Saga members, Dr. Bronwen Eastwood generously donated her entire clinic inventory to benefit the Society's work. December - The charitable momentum continued as two large contributions were announced: land and beneficiary money from two wonderful humanitarians (to be announced at a later date).

    The first order of business slated was the election of a new board of directors. Before elections began, the recent resignation of Sari Frank and the appointment of Judy Schreiner as treasurer were noted and much appreciation for Sari's contributions expressed. The newly elected Saga Society Board of Directors is: Chairperson - Eileen Jamison, Vice Chairperson - Mary Hawthorne, Secretary/Treasurer - Judy Schreiner. It was unanimously agreed to elect Ms. Kathy Marin to the board as well as to re-elect the previous year's directors Marie Carroll, Alberto Villanueva Jr. and Ramon Nuñez.

    The next item on the agenda was the announcement that Kathy Marin will represent Saga Society at the upcoming Humane Society of the United States/Humane Society International (HSUS/HSI) Exposition scheduled for April 3rd - 5th, 2003 in Reno, Nevada. In addition, Ms. Marin will also participate in a week long internship at the Portland Humane Society in Oregon as part of this very educational and worthwhile experience. It was revealed that HSUS/HIS organizers financed all of Ms. Marin's travel and accommodation expenses through its "scholarship" program.

    A discussion followed regarding the monthly operating costs of the veterinary clinic. It was stated that although the clinic operates solely at the expense of Saga, the income of this operation is beginning to weigh heavily on the finances of the Society. It was suggested that fundraising efforts be increased and a meeting be held in the near future to further address this. Members were reminded that calendars have arrived and need to be distributed for sale by local businesses. All agreed to do their part to assist with this.

     It was suggested that a part-time worker be hired to operate the clinic weekday mornings to facilitate more business. Another concern raised was that volunteers are desperately needed to ensure the successful efforts of the Society to control the stray animal population, for fundraising efforts and various other tasks. The members agreed to develop a list of tasks associated with managing the Society, a job description for the new employee, and then tackle the job of soliciting assistance for these. Those attending welcomed an announcement that Mr. Simon Backley had offered his services to collect and distribute the Society's e-mails and update their website. All members expressed their deep gratitude for the temporary service provided by veterinarian Dr. Sheila Schmeling.

    A list of inventory items belonging to Saga was reviewed. It was noted that the clinic was operating much more efficiently due to the generous donations of its directors, including a computer complete with monitor, keyboard and mouse provided by Director Alberto Villanueva. Also adding to the improvements were Director Marie Carroll who upgraded and serviced the computer and Director Mary Hawthorne who donated an answering machine for the Society's needs.

    Several other items were tabled for further discussion after specific research is completed. To this end, several members agreed to be present at the next general meeting of the Saga Humane Society scheduled for Thursday, February 6th, 2003.
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