'Animals have feelings too'

'Animals have feelings too'

Port Royal woman who rescues strays launches Instagram page to seek help

Observer writer

Monday, February 01, 2021

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CHENEL-LEE Jones says she can't remember exactly when she developed a love for domestic animals. All the Port Royal resident could tell the Jamaica Observer is that from her childhood days, she has loved and cared for pets.

Now, the 22-year-old is using social media to aid her passion, launching a page on her Instagram account which she has named Animal Helpers Ja to seek assistance for strays in need of medical assistance, food, and adoption.

“The animals inspired me,” Jones said in a WhatsApp response to questions from the Observer.

She described as atrocious people's neglect of animals. “I decided that if no one else was going to step up and help them, I had to. Animals are so caring towards humans and to see them getting treated so poorly for absolutely no reason, I knew I had to try and do something about it — and that's exactly what I'm trying to do right now,” Jones told the Observer.

Her daily routine, she said, involved roaming the streets in her community to feed and check on strays that are recovering from injuries, finding new ones that suffer from broken limbs after being hit or run over by motor vehicles, and those with internal sicknesses such as heartworm, tick fever and canine parvovirus.

“The animals stay in the streets, in bushes, under cars, on the beach. They have nowhere else to go and they try to look for shelter far from humans, especially far from children, as those in my community are extremely cruel to animals,” she said.

“They run them down with stones and sticks, hitting them or setting them to fight, which causes them to need medical assistance because of the pain they are in. And I blame the parents of those people for not raising them the right way — teaching them to be kind to animals. I literally don't understand how these parents just allow their children to be so cruel; it's beyond me,” she added.

Her most painful experience so far was seeing a dog in front a church near her home with its eyes bulged and mouth wide open, the results of a severe beating to its head by a food vendor in the community.

“He used a shovel and beat that dog in his head until his eyes popped out, because it came nearby after smelling food and was really starving,” she related. “He told the story with joy, as if he was proud. That is the worst thing I'd ever heard. I haven't spoken to that man ever since — that is extreme cruelty.”

Jones said she took a photo of the dog and sent it to Montego Bay Animal Haven in St James, which sent someone to rescue the dog. Unfortunately, the dog was later put down because it could not recover from its injuries.

Noting that she has received help from AllPets Veterinary Clinic 876 in Kingston and the animal rescue group in St James, along with scores of Jamaicans who usually offer assistance, Jones said she, however, found that foreigners were more supportive.

“If I'm being really honest, Jamaicans in general haven't really been supportive. Most of them laugh and tell me to put the money to better use, as if animals aren't living creatures and need love and support just as we do,” she said.

“I've had Jamaicans in the past who have donated and are willing to help physically when needed, but it's mainly the foreigners who reach out to me wanting to donate food and money the most. It is so awesome that I have captured the attention of a couple persons overseas that are willing to pack and send a barrel full of food for the animals,” said Jones.

She has vowed to continue helping stray animals, describing the feeling as “great”.

Additionally, Jones is urging the authorities to look seriously at the problem of animal cruelty in Jamaica.

“They should fund and build more animal clinics where we can go to get assistance for these animals at no cost, or even at a low cost, as poor people cannot afford most of the fees,” she said.

“I also want people to realise that animals have feelings as much as we do — they get hungry like we do, and they feel pain as we do. I just, overall, hope that they will be more loving and caring to the animals of our country.”

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