Imagine a beautiful island with gorgeous beaches, turquoise water, colorful houses and perfect sunny weather all year round. This is the reality on an island called Curacao in the Dutch Caribbean.
In the summer of 2012, my husband and I made this beautiful place our home.. For the first two years, I enjoyed life in this paradise without any of life’s stresses.
After I gave birth to my daughter, Siana, I began taking more walks. It was on our strolls to a nearby beach when I began noticing the gruesome, sad state in which the stray animals of this island live.
I’ve witnessed cats taking shelter in the bushes, jumping out of garbage bins and running for their lives at the sight of anyone approaching.
One day, there was a tiny kitten sitting near a group of locals who were barbecuing on the beach. Clearly she was hungry, waiting for a scrap of food or maybe a sip of water. She was shoo’ed away by the partygoers without a second thought. This upset me greatly, so I ran home with my baby in stroller to grab some food and water. I returned, and placed the offerings before the starving animal. Hesitant at first, the kitten approached and then started eating. She ate so fast -- too fast -- as if absolutely desperate for sustenance.
On our walk back home, I met more starving animals. This time, they were dogs. I gave them some food. These encounters inspired me to begin bringing cat and dog food on my walks. Peaceful points along my route have become feeding locations. Sure enough, the animals have begun to meet me here.
I’ve counted more than 35 animals at a time, all of them waiting for me to provide them with food and water. I realized that if these animals continue to have a reliable food supply, then they will only continue to multiply. At that point I wouldn’t be able to feed them all.
I determined the best possible solution would be to catch them, bring them to a vet to have them spayed and then help find them their forever homes so they could stay off the streets and lead happy, healthy lives.
This is when I made it my goal to save them all.
I knew it was a big mission and at times I’ve felt overwhelmed because I’ve never done anything like this before. Luckily, my former neighbour is a big cat lover and has also dedicated herself to saving cats on the island. She’s been a huge help by supplying cages, temporary shelter and donating funds to cover sterilization and transportation costs.
My new mission hasn’t been easy with a newborn baby. And not everyone at home has been thrilled by my new venture. But there have been joyful moments along the way - when the cats hear my stroller, they come to meet me and then run around in circles, purring and prancing about to show their excitement. Same with the dogs - they roll on the ground in anticipation of a meal, and they protect me from strangers on my evening walks.
Currently, only two stray dogs remain on the beach, and my neighbour has begun to feed them.
One of them Negra is a friendly young female dog and she needs to be sterilized. Recently, she had a litter, but her puppies did not survive. When I first saw Negra, she was a bag of bones - but she’s looking much healthier thanks to her feedings. She is so incredibly loving and I know she would do so well in a loving home.
After one and a half years of feeding the animals, I’m thrilled to report that the area of Caracasbaai Beach became free of stray cats! In total, 47 cats were caught, all of them received medical help (vaccines, spaying) and 39 were transported off island to loving homes in Holland! This proved that my continuous efforts paid off - all the sad, hungry and sick cats I used to see on my walks are now saved. Their suffering has ended.
However, the satisfaction and fulfillment I felt didn’t last long. Soon, I learned that stray cats were beginning to reappear in the same area. I was puzzled because I thought we saved them all. Sure enough, when I returned, I saw them. They looked like skeletons. Many didn’t even have fur. They were covered in wounds, blood and some could barely walk. I cried at the sight of them. What surprised me is that they had been spayed - I could tell by the marks on their ears. And they weren’t scared of humans, meaning they hadn’t been born into the wild. My guess is that there was a virus outbreak among the animals and the shelters couldn’t afford to help them.
Mission #2 began. We trapped 26 more cats, however many of them died. They were too sick to save. Many were euthanized, which was a heart-breaking moment because I had spent hours feeding them, sitting near the bushes trying to catch them. And then at the shelters, I got to know them and their unique little personalities…
While the mission has been heartbreaking, I’ve gained valuable experience and knowledge. I’ve learned that I can’t stop with one successful mission. The efforts must be continuous if all the island strays are to be saved.
With its amazing beaches and sunny weather, Curacao is a great destination for tourists, but for animal lovers it’s a sad scene.
When I began my mission, I didn’t have plans to ask for help but I no longer have access to cages or traps, free veterinary help and temporary shelter. There are so many more animals on other parts of the island that need help and I can’t do it all myself. I need your help to make a difference in the lives of these animals.
Cats and dogs are domesticated animals - they’re not fit to survive in the wild. Many of those wandering around were abandoned by their owners. Others were born in the wild without survival skills. Some are sick and their diseases are spreading. Mostly, however, they are dying from dehydration and hunger. These lonely, unhappy, homeless creatures need our love and support. Sadly, their welfare is not a priority for the government, who could make a difference. If a few caring souls could contribute a small amount, the result can be huge.
My goal is to raise money to catch animals, provide them with medical help, which includes spaying and neutering them. After this, I want to find them forever homes.
Here is documentation of my first two animal-rescuing missions here on the island in a Russian-speaking community forum where people are also passionate about animal rescue:
Here’s the translated version in English:
How the funds will be used:
- pet food
- vet bills
- temporary shelter
- transportation to a new home
I am asking for your help. Any amount you can contribute will be so extremely appreciated and used with care! Every bit of kindness makes a difference. Thank you so much for considering supporting my mission.