Vacationers in Turks and Caicos undertake rescue Potcake puppies


When Brandon and Alyse Kay launched into their honeymoon to the Turks and Caicos Islands, the very last thing they anticipated was to deliver a pet house with them to Chicago.

“We had no intention of bringing a canine again,” stated Brandon Kay. “Subsequent factor I knew, I used to be carrying a canine by customs.”

The {couples}’ canine — whom they adopted in 2019 and named Blueberry as a result of he was discovered beneath a berry bush — is one among 1000’s of puppies {that a} crew of native volunteers have rescued and positioned for adoption with vacationers just like the Kays.

“Our lives have been modified eternally,” stated Brandon Kay, including that, regardless of being born in a tropical local weather, Blueberry adores the snow. “He’s such an enormous a part of who we’re.”

Jane Parker-Rauw is the founder and director of Potcake Place K9 Rescue. She began the nonprofit group in 2004, however “I used to be rescuing canines for most likely about 5 years earlier than that, simply unofficially,” she stated.

Brandon Kay stated that his spouse had heard concerning the charity earlier than their journey, and he or she recommended they go go to the adoption heart in Grace Bay to see the lovable puppies.

This Polish metropolis’s prime vacationer attraction? A stray cat.

The rescue group has a storefront in a busy buying space, and vacationers line up within the mornings to have an opportunity to take a pup on a stroll on the seashore. Generally the road snakes across the block.

Parker-Rauw, who’s initially from England, moved to the island in 1996 for a job within the spa trade. She initially signed on for a 12-month contract and ended up staying.

Quickly after transferring to Turks and Caicos, she observed an abundance of stray canines — referred to as “potcakes” — roaming round. The identify potcakes took place as a result of locals repeatedly overlooked their cooking pots — which have been caked with meals remnants — for the canines to eat, she stated. Different Caribbean islands are identified for having potcakes, too.

There was restricted infrastructure and regulation in place to forestall the potcakes from excessively breeding. The outcome: tons of puppies, and never sufficient individuals to take care of them.

“Simply seeing the issue, I wished to attempt to do one thing to assist,” recalled Parker-Rauw, who stated she has at all times been an animal lover, though she had no expertise working with canines.

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She started volunteering on the Turks and Caicos Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and would go door-to-door in residential areas to talk with locals about spay and neuter companies. In lots of circumstances, the canines had already began breeding.

“Each home got here with six to 13 puppies, and the SPCA had nowhere to place them,” stated Parker-Rauw, whose job on the time was to have the puppies euthanized. “It wasn’t out of cruelty. They only had nowhere to place all these pups.”

Canines that aren’t neutered or spayed can produce a line of 1000’s of puppies within the span of just a few years. Canines as younger as 6 months previous can get pregnant after which have a litter of puppies, with an average of seven at a time, though some litters are bigger. A single feminine canine can delivery as much as 70 puppies in her lifetime.

These puppies — if not spayed and neutered — then go on to breed, too, and the variety of potcakes expands exponentially.

Watching so many helpless potcake puppies die was painful for Parker-Rauw.

“I understood why it needed to be executed,” she stated. “However it didn’t sit too nicely with me.”

After efficiently adopting out one pet, “I made a decision, there’s a spot for each potcake,” Parker-Rauw stated.

So she began Potcake Place — an all-volunteer staffed charity, which is dependent upon donations to function. A gaggle of about 15 volunteers rescue the puppies — which they usually discover by the SPCA. Locals and vacationers additionally alert them after they spot a litter, and folks continuously go away packing containers stuffed with deserted puppies outdoors the adoption heart.

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At any given time, there are between 60 and 100 puppies and canines beneath Potcake Place’s care. They’re principally fostered in native volunteer properties till they’re adopted. On a yearly foundation, the group helps undertake about 500 canines to individuals from the USA, Canada and elsewhere.

“We actually care about the place these pups go,” stated Parker-Rauw, including that her crew conducts a rigorous inspection earlier than finalizing an adoption, which incorporates vet references and background checks. “We don’t need them ending up in shelters.”

“You’ll be able to’t simply come down right here and pick a pet and take it house,” she added. “It’s a severe dedication, and we take it very critically.”

Though the adoption necessities are inflexible, “we undertake out each single one among our puppies,” Parker-Rauw stated.

Most of the rescued puppies have a tough begin to life, together with Lauren Olzawski’s canine, Adira, who was present in a junkyard inside an previous washer 4 years in the past.

A number of months after Adira was rescued, Olzawski — who lives in Loudoun County, Va. — arrived in Turks and Caicos for a trip along with her greatest buddy. At any time when she travels, she stated, she makes a degree of volunteering at native rescue organizations.

“I had considered adopting, however I hadn’t actually confirmed it in my head,” the 30-year-old stated.

She eagerly signed as much as take a pet on a socialization stroll alongside the seashore.

Whereas Adira was shy after they first met, “she completely blossomed,” stated Olzawski, who determined the pup needed to be hers.

Pet walks have grow to be a preferred vacationer attraction within the space. Whereas it’s a enjoyable (and free) exercise for vacationers, it serves an essential function for Potcake Place. “In the end, you’re serving to these puppies get adopted by socializing them,” Olzawski stated, including that she was amazed at how invested Potcake Place volunteers are in every canine. “So many canines go out and in of that place, and so they know all of them on a private degree.”

Adam Kronick and his household had an identical expertise. They took their now 4-year-old potcake, Millie, on a stroll alongside the seashore a number of years in the past whereas on a household trip “and fell in love,” he stated. “That was it.”

Millie was discovered wandering alone on the Millennium Highway, which is how she acquired her identify. On the mercy of his spouse and three youngsters, Kronick stated, he had no alternative however to deliver Millie house to Toronto on the finish of their journey.

Tensions have been excessive after they launched Millie to her brother, Rudy — a goldendoodle-labradoodle combine — however earlier than lengthy “they grew to become greatest mates.”

Most individuals deliver their canines house with them (pets beneath 20 kilos can sit within the cabin of economic flights of most airways), however some depend on volunteer couriers to move them. Heavier canines have to be transported in the plane’s cargo hold.

“Not less than 40 p.c of people who undertake with us are with couriers,” stated Parker-Rauw, explaining that many individuals resolve weeks or months after visiting Turks and Caicos that they need to undertake a canine. The charity tries to discover a prepared vacationer to fly the canine to an accessible airport on their method house. Usually, the adopters pay the $125 cabin charge. “It’s only a actually good factor to do.”

In its personal method, Parker-Rauw stated, being a courier is “very rewarding,” significantly for people who don’t really feel able to undertake. “You’ll be able to assist in plenty of methods apart from adopting.”

Every pet prices the charity roughly $300 to $500 to take care of earlier than they’re adopted. Some guests supply to sponsor a canine as an alternative of adopting or transporting the animal.

“It can save you a canine with out having to take it in,” Parker-Rauw stated.

Along with sponsoring, many individuals merely donate online, or ship wanted provides when visiting the adoption heart. 1000’s of potcake homeowners and supporters belong to a Facebook group the place individuals share updates and photographs, in addition to supply assist and recommendation.

“Potcake Place is a big community of people who simply need to make a distinction,” stated Parker-Rauw, who, in her spare time, visits native colleges to coach youngsters concerning the significance of spaying, neutering and animal welfare.

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“We aren’t only a fluffy pet group,” she stated. “This all comes all the way down to schooling.”

“There was big progress in that. It’s the youthful technology that I have to get to,” stated Parker-Rauw, noting that, whereas adoptions are serving to the issue, her major aim is to forestall puppies from needing rescuing within the first place.

In the meantime, Parker-Rauw and her crew are devoted to serving to each potcake pet they will.

“Not everybody can do every part,” she stated. “However everybody can do one thing.”

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