It is with great sadness that the Humane Society of the British Virgin Islands has to report to the public that we have been given notice of termination in relation to the lease of our current premises in Johnson’s Ghut. Unfortunately attempts to negotiate an extension with our landlords have not been successful, and we are required to vacate our current premises by 31 December 2019.
Whilst we are extremely grateful to our landlords for having accommodated the Animal Shelter in its current location for over 20 years at below-market rent, this does unfortunately leave the Shelter in a position of serious difficulty. As many of the Shelter’s supporters know, we purchased land in Josiah’s Bay in 2015 with the intention of building a new Shelter there, and also purchased a prefabricated steel frame structure to erect upon it. However, our financial reserves were severely depleted in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, when we were required to expend significant sums to restore the existing Shelter to functionality, which was vital to the health, welfare and safety of the current animals. We completed the necessary renovation plans and luckily were able to find large donations form 4 individuals and organisations, which meant we did not have to use our contingency funds. Many of the items in the renovations of the existing shelter, such as cages, fences, etc can be transferred to the new site. We also had the challenge to meet running costs during a period when fund raising was particularly difficult due to evacuations and competing claims on the public for charity. In 2019 we did have a very successful Gaming Night and Dog Show of which funds were applied to running costs. More individual donations were found to cover our increasing food and vet bills.
Regrettably this news could not come at a worse time. With hurricane season already upon us, the Shelter is currently housing over 100 dogs (including nearly 20 puppies), 30 cats, and assorted other animals. At the moment we have nowhere to move them to, and at present no realistic likelihood of finding alternative accommodation prior to building the new shelter.
At present it appears that our only viable option is to push forward as quickly as possible to try and make the Josiah’s Bay site usable. However there still remains a considerable funding gap. We are estimating to erecting the steel frame structure and fully completing the entire build, and interior fit plus outdoor dog runs in the range of US$400,000 - $500,000. Quotes have been requested. This new shelter will be much larger, more modern and better equipped, which is absolutely vital due to the amount of animals that come through the doors of the Humane Society and the ever growing pressure on the shelter. The current cash reserves of the Humane Society are only US$50,000, annual running costs are around US$120,000. Accordingly, we have an urgent fundraising problem, along with an urgent timing problem.
Whilst these are undoubtedly dark times for the Shelter, we simply cannot stop in our mission of protecting local animals and offering our service to the community, we have far from given up! Every year we take in hundreds of homeless pets and many of these are stray, dumped or abandoned. Many of them are sick, injured, malnourished, and/or violent. We work hard with other local animal charities to tackle this problem by encouraging pet owners to think carefully about getting a pet, to microchip, neuter/spay, train and socialise their animals properly and to rehome them responsibly if they have to make that difficult decision. But ultimately the Animal Shelter is the last refuge for pets who fall through the cracks. Without the Shelter there will literally be nowhere for them to go and we manage to get lots of them adopted to get a better life.
Now more than ever the Shelter, and the dogs, cats and other pets of the BVI, need the help and support of the community if we are going to be able to continue our important mission.