Bahamas Humane Society ball raises funds for stray population control program
It’s a sad sight to see: potcakes wasting away beneath dilapidated cars, pregnant dogs slunking across the road, or groups of feral kittens begging for scraps.
Indeed, it’s been estimated that there are over 45,000 stray or roaming animals on the island of New Providence alone. A number of that magnitude needs an initiative just as large and all-encompassing to combat it—and this past weekend funding began for such a program through the Humane Society Ball.
An evening of fine food provided by the British Colonial Hilton and fun music provided by the Lou Adams Orchestra and the Modern Vintage rock band provided the backdrop to an annual event that is dedicated to raising funds for the Humane Society to continue its stellar job of improving the quality of life of animals in The Bahamas.
“We had a really great evening,” says organizer of the event, Saskia D’Aguilar. “People had lots of fun. It’s a very serious cause but I still think people don’t feel inhibited from enjoying themselves because they’re making a good contribution.”
Indeed, last year their aim to improve medical access for animals was given a huge push through the $75,000 raised by the ball alone, helping the organization to purchase medical equipment such as x-rays and blood analysis machines to provide comprehensive veterinary services to the island.
It’s not just from ticket sales—their silent auction and raffle with amazing prizes that are drawn during the ball also raise funds, as well as what they do outside of the ball itself.
“Every November when we send out invitations for the ball we also send out an appeal letter to focus on people who don’t want to or can’t make it to the ball,” adds D’Aguilar. “We outline the plan for the Humane Society and the big goals for the next 12 months in case they want to make a financial donation to those specific projects. We get a tremendous response from that too.”
This year the organization aimed to build upon last year’s push to update or replace old medical equipment with more efficient ones—now with such great medical facilities, they’re ready to take on a comprehensive program to help control the stray animal population with the international organization Animal Balance. In fact, a representative from the organization attended the ball herself to begin talks about the huge move.
Though operating out of the United States, Animal Balance primarily works with islands around the world to set up high-volume, community-based and sustainable sterilization programs to help balance animal populations and to reduce animals cruelty and suffering.
“They do a lot of work not just picking up the animals and spay and neutering them, but they also try to get the communities involved,” says D’Aguilar. “It’s going to be a huge campaign to really tackle that overpopulation program.”
Though pairing with the organization to begin an island-wide program to tackle the overwhelming stray and roaming population, D’Aguilar points out the main goal of the Humane Society also remains education as a means of prevention and proper animal care.
In that vein, many people whose tireless contributions to the Humane Society and their causes were also honored during the ball. The Betty Kenning B-Humane Award—awarded annually to two persons “who go above and beyond the call of duty to improve the situation of animals in the Bahamas”—were award to Suzanne Black and Selena Smith. Suzanne Black received her award that evening, while Selena Smith will receive hers in a different ceremony at Governor’s House next year.
They also recognized Betty Sands and Ruth Cleare for their commitment to The Humane Society Ball Committee for thirty years. Indeed, the ball—which has been going on for over 50 years—is the result of tireless work by the committee which this year also included Tracie Glinton, Sandy McGwier, Ruth Thackray, Renee Barrow, Paula Kelly, Tara Klonaris Holcombe, Charlotte Albury, and of course Saskia D’Aguilar herself, who has been chairperson of the committee for nine years.
For D’Aguilar, her love for the Humane Society began 21 years ago, when she moved to The Bahamas and worked as a full-time volunteer for the organization under the suggestion of Betty Kenning for a year.
“I loved animals so I was thrilled and I think it was the best job I’ve ever had,” she remembers. “Ever since then I’ve been absolutely hooked and it’s been my number one charity I support.”
Of course, she points out that without their sponsors year after year buying tables—such as Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of The Bahamas, Glinton-Sweeting-O’Brian Counsel and Attorneys-at-Law, SG Hambros Bank & Trust, Baha Mar, and returning guests—as well as providing great prizes— such as American Airlines, who donated six trips as prizes, John Bull who donated jewelry, as well as Kelly’s Home Centre and Cole’s of Nassau—the ball would not have been in existence for as long as it has, ensuring improvement in the lives of animals in The Bahamas.
“It’s only with the support of the whole community that this thing really gets pulled off,” she says. “I’m sort of just directing the band, but it’s a huge effort by everyone.”
For more about the Bahamas Humane Society or to contribute to their initiative with Animal Balance, check out their page on Facebook or visit www.bahamashumanesociety.com.
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