HomeNationalIsland tourists swoon over stray puppies. Many bring one home.

Island tourists swoon over stray puppies. Many bring one home.


When Brandon and Alyse Kay launched into their honeymoon to the Turks and Caicos Islands, the very last thing they anticipated was to convey a pet residence 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 means of customs.”

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

“Our lives had been modified without end,” 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 canine 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 prompt they go go to the adoption heart in Grace Bay to see the lovable puppies.

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The rescue group has a storefront in a busy procuring space, and vacationers line up within the mornings to have an opportunity to take a pup on a stroll on the seaside. Typically 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 shifting to Turks and Caicos, she seen an abundance of stray canine — referred to as “potcakes” — roaming round. The title potcakes took place as a result of locals usually unnoticed their cooking pots — which had been caked with meals remnants — for the canine 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 consequence: tons of puppies, and never sufficient folks to take care of them.

“Simply seeing the issue, I needed 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 canine.

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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 instances, the canine 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.”

Canine that aren’t neutered or spayed can produce a line of hundreds of puppies within the span of just a few years. Canine as younger as 6 months outdated 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 beginning 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 carried out,” she stated. “But it surely 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 bunch of about 15 volunteers rescue the puppies — which they typically discover by means of the SPCA. Locals and vacationers additionally alert them once they spot a litter, and other people incessantly depart 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 canine underneath Potcake Place’s care. They’re largely fostered in native volunteer properties till they’re adopted. On a yearly foundation, the group helps undertake about 500 canine to folks from the USA, Canada and elsewhere.

“We actually care about the place these pups go,” stated Parker-Rauw, including that her workforce 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 possibly can’t simply come down right here and select a pet and take it residence,” she added. “It’s a severe dedication, and we take it very significantly.”

Though the adoption necessities are inflexible, “we undertake out each single certainly one of 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 outdated washer 4 years in the past.

Just a few months after Adira was rescued, Olzawski — who lives in Loudoun County, Va. — arrived in Turks and Caicos for a trip together with her finest good friend. Each time 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 seaside.

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

Pet walks have change into a well-liked 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 canine 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 seaside 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 title. On the mercy of his spouse and three kids, Kronick stated, he had no alternative however to convey Millie residence to Toronto on the finish of their journey.

Tensions had been excessive once they launched Millie to her brother, Rudy — a goldendoodle-labradoodle combine — however earlier than lengthy “they turned finest pals.”

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

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

In its personal method, Parker-Rauw stated, being a courier is “very rewarding,” notably for people who don’t really feel able to undertake. “You possibly can assist in a number 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 provide 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. Hundreds of potcake homeowners and supporters belong to a Facebook group the place folks share updates and photographs, in addition to provide assist and recommendation.

“Potcake Place is a big community of those that simply wish to make a distinction,” stated Parker-Rauw, who, in her spare time, visits native faculties to teach kids concerning the significance of spaying, neutering and animal welfare.

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“We’re not only a fluffy pet group,” she stated. “This all comes right down to training.”

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

In the meantime, Parker-Rauw and her workforce are devoted to serving to each potcake pet they’ll.

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

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