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Animal activist Cintra Ramoutar plays with two dogs she took off the streets.

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“Don’t shop, adopt.”

These are the watchwords of the Trinidad and Tobago Paw Rescues (TTPR), a four-member organisation consisting of a mother and daughter duo of Janelle Ramsaroop and Cintra Ramoutar.

The major aim of the TTPR is to reduce the stray animal population throughout T&T by an intensive spaying and neutering programme for both dogs and cats.

Presently the organisation does not own a shelter, but that has not stopped them from doing all they can mainly out of their own pockets to find homes and assist the fostering process for the animals who are mainly strays.

Cintra, one of the founders of TTPR said, “Even though I have all these animals here if I see another animal on the streets how could you leave that animal there?. The organisation was created to assist animals in danger who were injured, not being fed, and those that need rescuing because of abuse and neglect by owners.”

The TTPR’s main interaction with the public is through its Facebook page, “Trinidad and Tobago Paw Rescues (TTPR)” which is used to showcase issues concerning animals as well as the rescuing of animals made by the association. In the early stages, TTPR mainly fed strays.

However, according to Cintra, “I quickly learnt that these animals have feelings. They get sick, they need vet care, they need shelter more than a shelter they need homes”.

After finding homes for a few animals the idea for the TTPR began picking up momentum and has been slowly grown with an estimated three hundred animals helped since its six-year inception.

Cintra recounted some of the horror stories seen by the rescue team.

“We have had animals tied to trees, left without water, left with rotting wounds with maggots we post most of the stories on Facebook to help raise the plight of these animals which are neglected by the wider society in order to get them help and safe homes by willing volunteers who meet our strict criteria.”

Currently, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the TTPR which is based in Tacarigua focused its efforts in the Caura area because of the restriction placed by the government.

“When we realise people were not feeding their animals, we journeyed up there every day to help fed animals.”

When they started picking up animals to spay and neuter they were met with some resistance by residents who claim the dogs were for hunting. “A lot of in the area people don’t want to spay. The reason being they want animals to hunt. Why are you not feeding the animals? If you feed the animals they will not hunt. They can look for its own food,” Cintra said, recounting an incident with one resident of the area.

The one major challenge for the TTPR is finding appropriate homes that are suitable for their rescued animals.

“We do have our criteria and guidelines which is the Benny and Buster guideline to adopt.”

This follows five main steps:

Viewing available pets.

Completing an adoption application

Meeting with staff for up-to-date medical history and housing accommodation

Completing adoption

Taking the animal home.

Among the many services offered by the TTPR are re-homing of puppies, vaccinations, paying for vet services for seriously injured animals, owner-rehabilitation and training for care, and the donation of food to owners who cannot afford to feed the animals.

Cintra reiterated, “We want to teach owners how to care for the animals if you can’t afford vet care. Reach out to somebody am not the only rescuer who offers to help people am sure someone would try to help.”

One pet parent, Saira Moosai said, “I always like dogs, but seeing the work of the TTPR animals need help they can’t help themselves, but I always chose to help rescued dogs because they need caring homes. By doing this, I am trying to help make a dent on the number of strays across the country.”

She lamented the need for owners to change the idea of pet care throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

“These animals bring me a lot of joy, this is my whole life right there,” she said, adding, “but they need the love too.”

Anyone willing to assist in foresting, boarding or potentially rescuing animals can contact the Trinidad and Tobago Paw Rescues TTPR via its Facebook page or its website https://ttpawrescues.weebly.com.