Animal lover asks Bermuda to help find stray puppies a home
Angel Burgess is on a mission and hoping animal lovers in Bermuda will help.
She is trying to get seven rescue puppies and their mom in Jamaica adopted by people here.
At the moment, they are being cared for by Gary Riley, whose small shelter, Dream It, Live It, was hit hard by the pandemic.
Ms Burgess, an animal lover and owner of export company Puppy Love Bda, met the veterinarian while in Jamaica for her stepfather's funeral in April and offered her help.
"Almost 20 years ago, I made my first trip to Jamaica. As much as I loved the island it was heartbreaking seeing all the stray dogs. Some of them had broken bones, bad mange and others looked like they were starving to death," she said.
"I couldn’t tell how many times I have been to Jamaica in the last 20 years but I do know each time my passion to help these dogs has become a greater and greater passion."
Ms Burgess, a Bermudian who lives in the UK, was at a football match in her mother's neighbourhood when a stranger approached asking if she was "the dog lady" and told her about the work Mr Riley was doing.
"It's a very small shelter so during Covid he lost his sponsorship, he's had to give some of his dogs to the bigger shelters. So it just was the perfect fit for me to partner with him and try to get some of these dogs adopted.
"We've gone through the whole process of the logistics to get them to Bermuda; the pricing and the requirements for them to enter Bermuda, the requirements for them to leave Jamaica and now we have seven puppies that are four weeks and a mom dog that we're trying desperately to find homes for in Bermuda."
It is all part of a bigger plan. Ms Burgess leaves for Jamaica next month and will stay there until spring helping rebuild Dream It, Live It and educating people in the Caribbean nation about animal welfare.
"The first time I went, as an animal lover, I was truly disturbed by all the stray dogs. The sad thing about it is it's so common that people have become desensitised to it. So when you're driving you'll see a dead dog that’s been run over and people just drive around it.
"When I went in April, one of the dogs in the neighbourhood had six puppies and I was feeding them every day. Each puppy except one got run over in the street. It's terrible. Even the kids; they throw rocks at them, they throw sand at them."
There are some people who care about the strays but, confronted by so many of them, they throw up their hands in despair.
"They feel helpless," Ms Burgess said. "And then some of them, because they have grown up from a baby just seeing these dogs in the street, they don’t really connect that these dogs really do deserve homes and need homes."
It is a message she and Mr Riley are hoping to get across to people who live near his shelter.
"Especially children," she said. "They don’t realise that these animals don’t deserve to be treated that way just because there are too many."
Mr Riley has helped hundreds of stray dogs over the years but lost sponsorship due to Covid-19 and was struggling to pay for it all himself.
"A lot of the things he's doing, he's doing out of pocket because he's not like the bigger shelters where he has sponsorship and all that kind of stuff. So this is where I've kind of jumped aboard to help to build up the shelter and get some of these stray dogs saved and adopted out to some families," said Ms Burgess said.
There are 12 adult dogs in the shelter that also need a home.
"The goal is to build up the shelter, get more supplies for him. He had an older gentleman that worked for a hotel and he used to give him off-cuts of the meat and that’s how he was feeding the dogs. But he died. So he's basically doing everything out of pocket."
She is able to do it all and keep Puppy Love running smoothly because "at this point everything is pretty much done via video call or e-mail, especially with the breeders". Ms Burgess's team in the UK will then pick up as necessary.
"I feel like Puppy Love is definitely touching on all areas," she said. "We have people that only want thoroughbreds and that’s fine. But we also have clients that just want to be a part of rescuing a puppy that really needs a home and that’s really dear to my heart too."
For more information: PuppyLoveBda.com; firstname.lastname@example.org