Jamaica promotes itself as a destination for “sun, sea, and sand.” An online search turns up a few other reasons to visit Jamaica: cultural heritage, music, ecotourism, and friendly people. For animal lovers, there’s yet another reason: helping some of the thousands of cats and dogs who live on Kingston’s streets.
Visitors to Kingston can’t help but notice the dogs roaming the city’s streets, and in the heat of the day, sleeping on the sidewalks under trees. The cats aren’t as visible; they’re hiding from people and dogs. Some of the cats and dogs who live on Kingston’s streets are tolerated and may be given a bit of food and care. Many are considered pests and shooed away (or worse). Some may have families, but they’re allowed to roam freely.
Animal-Kind International Partner Organization, Kingston Community Animal Welfare, is the only organization in Kingston that helps the city’s street cats and dogs. KCAW reaches about 550 of them every week.
Each day, Deborah Binns, who started KCAW, travels around the city feeding and checking on the street cats and dogs. Over decades of helping street animals, Deborah has met many people who feel for the street animals. This network of local people help Deborah care for their communities’ dogs and cats. They help with feedings and they contact Deborah/KCAW if a dog or cat has been injured, is not well, or if they witness cruelty. In turn, Deborah provides pet food, gets street animals spayed and neutered, treats internal and external parasites, and provides other care, as needed.
I recently spent a few days with KCAW. What does a typical day of KCAW feeding look like? (Pictures below)
- First, we stopped at the home of a family where the woman cares about their two dogs and the man has no interest in them at all. We fed them and put medicine in one of their eyes (At the woman’s request, Deborah had previously taken the dog to the vet, who prescribed the med).
- Our second stop was at a house where the landlady threatened to poison a litter of puppies recently born on her property. One of the renters, part of Deborah’s network, contacted Deborah about the landlady’s threat, and we spent a couple of hours catching the puppies. We brought them to the KCAW kennels.
- Next, we stopped at a heavy equipment repair yard and fed a group of dogs.
- Fourth stop was a group of feral cats that Deborah has gotten fixed. We fed them.
- Next, we fed and de-wormed a group of dogs that live in downtown Kingston.
- Then we visited Mr. Salmon, who has adopted several KCAW dogs and we brought him pet food. He’s poor but he loves his dogs.
- Last, we visited Boysie, who lives in downtown Kingston, where he feeds and watches over many cats and dogs in his neighborhood.
Seven stops, many happy, well-fed, safe dogs and cats, and two exhausted KCAW volunteers!
Volunteers are always welcome to join in on KCAW’s feeding rounds. Deborah appreciates the help and the dogs and cats love the extra attention. Street animals may get fed only a few nutritious meals a week. Most keep a low profile around people. So when Deborah shows up with food and love, it’s a scene of pure delight. Sea, sand, sun, music, etc. are good-if fleeting-reasons to visit Jamaica, but feeding Kingston’s street dogs and cats will leave you with many longlasting joyful memories.
If you’re planning to visit or move to Jamaica and interested in helping Kingston Community Animal Welfare, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re able to carry supplies to Kingston, Deborah needs: Triatix for sarcoptic mange, ticks, and lice; Prazivet or other de-wormers; Ectoline or other wound spray/treatment for maggots; and any flea/tick preventatives. Donations are also gratefully accepted and 100% of all donations are used to help Kingston’s street cats and dogs.
If you’ll be traveling outside of Kingston, you’ll find other rescues and shelters in some of the popular tourist destinations, such as Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, and Negril. Check online for their contact information.
By Karen Menczer
KCAW’s page on the AKI website: https://www.animal-kind.org/jamaica