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SPCA opens facility for large animals

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Hugs bunny: Diana Stempel Bergquist, donor of the Stempel Stables, with SPCA volunteer Bridget Jardine and Juno the rabbit (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A new facility for larger animals has been opened at the Bermuda Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelter in Paget.

The Stempel Stables, made possible by the generosity of the Ernest E Stempel Foundation, will allow SPCA staff and volunteers to care for, rehabilitate and rehome animals including horses, cows and goats.

Describing the new facility as a “dream come true” for the SPCA, environment minister Cole Simons said: “These three stables will increase the SPCA’s capacity to rescue and care for larger animals.

“Livestock are just as vulnerable to cruelty as smaller animals, but are much more difficult to house.”

Ms Simons officially opened the stables with Neil Stempel and Diana Bergquist, of the Stempel Foundation, who have been supporters of the charity for many years.

Deborah Titterton Narraway, SPCA executive director, said the registered charity had in the past been challenged with paying to board large animals at other properties.

She said this was not only financially prohibitive but also taxing on the small staff caring for animals in multiple locations.

“Going forward the SPCA won’t have to factor in housing restraints when looking at cruelty cases involving horses, cows and goats,” Ms Titterton Narraway added.

And according to SPCA president Sarah Haycock Tafur, the charity investigates welfare complaints every year and staff see numerous cases of neglect and abuse.

“We come across small, dilapidated properties overrun with a variety of livestock animals living in dangerous, unsanitary conditions; cases involving lack of proper care resulting in severely infected wounds and serious skin conditions requiring veterinarian intervention; and animals forgotten tethered out of site and out of mind that are close to death from dehydration and hunger.

“When the SPCA is out in the field working with animal caregivers, our primary approach is to provide education, advice and assistance to improve animal welfare, including giving people time to make improvements to their standards of care. Sometimes this means the SPCA needs to remove an animal so that its habitat can be improved.

“Other times animals need to be seized and provided a safe environment for rehabilitation before a successful rehoming can take place.

“We can now proactively intervene in cases needing the SPCA’s assistance and rehabilitate and if necessary rehome large animal livestock on site.”

The facility, which has been in the works since about 2010, has three stables, a storage room, toilets and a laundry. It is 100 per cent compliant with the Care and Protection of Animals Act 1975 and the Commercial Horse Stables Licencing Regulations 2005 and meets all building regulations, health and safety standards and fire safety precautions.

The Stempel Foundation provided the funding for the stables, and Mr Simons concluded that their “generous contributions mean that large animals can now be rescued and cared for in a much more efficient and timely manner”.

“In closing, on behalf of the community, I would like to say thank you to the Bermuda SPCA. For almost 100 years, your members have shown kindness to animals and provided shelter and care to creatures that have been hurt or neglected.

“The support of the Stempel family has now ensured that larger animals who need care and kindness will be safe here.”

Ms Haycock Tafur also thanked Allison Williams, past president of the SPCA and project chairwoman, for spearheading the project, Malcolm Wilson, MC Baron and Island Construction for “getting us from a vision through to the facilities you see before you”, the Stempel Foundation for the “generous support of this vision and making the funding available”, and Mr Simons for attending.

Grand opening: environment minsiter Cole Simons and SPCA president Sarah Haycock Tafur at the opening of the Stempel Stables (Photograph by Lisa Simpson)
Settling in: Juno the rabbit enjoying the comforts of the Stempel Stables (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
New home: rabbits at the Stempel Stables opening at the SPCA (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Getting comfy: Juno the rabbit (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Tender care: rabbits at the Stempel Stables (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)