Shelter Medicine Resident Dr. Katherine Polak shares her experience helping spay and neuter street dogs in the Bahamas.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of participating in the massive spay/neuter campaign, Operation Potcake in Nassau, The Bahamas. Led by the international organization Animal Balance in conjunction with the Bahamas Humane Society, the campaign’s target goal was to sterilize and vaccinate a total of 2000 street dogs, termed “Potcakes,” on the Bahamian island of New Providence over 10 days.
The program, free to members of the community, aimed to vaccinate, deworm, and sterilize dogs that would otherwise never receive medical care. It also sought to educate members of the community on responsible animal ownership and raise awareness of the plight of the Potcake.
The program, free to members of the community, aimed to vaccinate, deworm, and sterilize dogs that would otherwise never receive medical care.
In order to handle the large volume of dogs necessary to meet this lofty goal of 2000 dogs, four intensive spay-neuter clinics worked simultaneously on different parts of the island performing sterilization surgeries. While the clinics were busy performing surgery and recovering animals, a professional trapping team also hit the streets of Nassau trapping difficult-to-catch street dogs.
Over 100 volunteers from seven different countries came together to generously donate their time, supplies, and expertise to help the Potcakes of New Providence.
The operation was so successful after the first week that even the Bahamian Deputy Prime Minister paid a visit to see the action first-hand.
When all was said and done, 2315 dogs were sterilized, a total that exceeded anyone’s wildest expectations!
When all was said and done, 2315 dogs were sterilized, a total that exceeded anyone’s wildest expectations! The operation was well received by all members of the community, making frequent appearances on the front page of the local newspaper, the Nassau Tribune, and on local TV.
Operation Potcake was truly a unique endeavor because of its role in a comprehensive 5-year low-cost spay-neuter initiative, which aims to address the issue of street dogs in a long-term sustainable manner. It is a collaborative effort, involving both Animal Balance and local groups The Bahamas Humane Society, BAARK!, The Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture, and Stray Busters. Following the completion of Operation Potcake, the Veterinary Medical Association of the Bahamas has pledged to complete 3000 low-cost spay/neuter surgeries every year for the next 5 years.
The Operation Potcake clinic will undoubtedly serve as a model for humane street dog management programs throughout the Caribbean and beyond.
Dr. Katherine Polak