If you are looking for a pet, the Bermuda SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has some beautiful animals in need of a home.
Some have been abandoned, some neglected, and some surrendered by their previous owners for economic reasons, but all have been socialized and vaccinated.
Each year, the SPCA finds homes for up to 500 animals. Prior to adoption they each undergo socialization/training and receive preventive medical care.
Cats and dogs are spayed or neutered, dewormed and treated for fleas. Cats are also tested for FIV/FeLV (feline immunodeficiency virus/leukaemia) and dogs for Heartworm, and they are vaccinated as necessary. Each animal is also microchipped.
Adopting a pet is easier than you think. But first of all, ask yourself if you have the time, money and responsibility to look after an animal.
Consider that cats can live up to 20 years, dogs 12-16 years, and rabbits and guinea pigs for up to seven.
You not only have to have the resources to be able to feed your pet every day but also take care of its medical bills; and vets in Bermuda are not cheap.
Whereas cats and smaller animals are fairly independent, dogs may require obedience training and will also need to be walked twice a day.
Not only must the people you live with be accepting of a pet; you should weigh up whether you have a suitable environment in which to keep it. Dogs, for example, need a yard or garden to stretch out in and play.
The SPCA asks potential adoptees to ask themselves the following questions:
n Why are you interested in adopting an animal?
The best way to choose the right pet for you is to figure out why you want one.
n Are you ready to make a long-term commitment?
Keep in mind life changes such as moving house or overseas, college, getting married or having children.
n Can you afford a pet?
After leaving the SPCA a cat will still need annual vaccinations, flea and worm treatment, food, toys and emergency care.
If you are adopting a kitten, you will be responsible for ensuring it receives its second inoculation at 12 weeks, and that it is spayed or neutered at six months.
n Are you prepared to pet-proof your home?
Remove dangerous materials, foods and plants, and any unsafe hiding areas. Small mammals may chew wires and tapestries, so remove them out of the way.
n Is your family/are your roommates ready for a pet?
Do you have a baby who needs a lot of attention, or another pet who will be territorial?
If you live with other people, make sure they are involved in the selection process, and make sure no one has allergies.
Don’t make a quick decision — get to know the personalities and types of behaviour of the animals first, before you choose.
The SPCA Animal Care staff can give you tips on how to feed and care for your pet. They also advise you get your pet’s living area set up before you take them home, to ease their acclimatization.
Set aside an area in a room that is quiet, and set up the pet’s food, bed/cage, litter box, scratching post, chews and toys. It may also be worth initiating a routine for feeding, playing, walking, grooming and cleaning.
Before you adopt an animal from the SPCA you need to fill out an Adoption Application form at the shelter, show your ID and pay a nominal fee.
Your landlord and/or roommates’ contact details may also be required to check they are willing to share the living space.
The staff at the SPCA will then try to match you up with a suitable pet, according to your lifestyle and preferences.
When it comes to dogs, the shortage of dogs on the island means there is a waiting list of people wanting to adopt.
All dog applications also require a property check by the SPCA Inspector, to ensure your home environment is suitable for a canine.
For example it must have a fenced-in yard/enclosure of at least 60 square feet — more for larger breeds. Each entrance must have a locking gate and the dog must have protection from the elements. A shaded area, waterproof dog house and ample drinking water are all important.
A Government Animal Warden will also need to approve your property prior to adoption.
The SPCA will not allow you to adopt a dog if you have been banned by the courts from owning animals, or if you intend to keep the dog outside in a kennel.
The SPCA believes dogs should be a part of the family. It will also not allow someone adopt if their work/life schedule does not have enough exercise and human interaction time.
Dogs that come into the shelter are also matched up with suitable owners. For example, are they good with small children? Do they get along with other animals?
If a dog is on a Restricted or Prohibited Breeds list then it must be previously licensed by Government in order for an adoption to take place.
Restricted Breeds also have conditions that must be met by the owner, as directed by Government Animal Wardens.
At the Bermuda SPCA, you can come in and adopt a cat on the same day, but a dog application will take longer.
Sara Corday, development and volunteer coordinator, said: “We don’t get dogs that often. When we do they are usually owner-surrendered, because the person is leaving or perhaps can no longer take care of them.
“With any dog, we work with different trainers on the island to make sure they are good canine citizens, that they are obedient and can walk and do recall.
“Each of our animals at the SPCA is well looked after. And once an adoption takes place we will call the ‘adopters’ a month later to see how they are doing and to ask them to send a photo of the pet so we can see how they are.
“We would encourage anyone to adopt a pet from the SPCA. It’s giving these animals a second chance and a ‘forever home’, as we say.
“Some may have been abandoned and some may always have been strays but it gives them another shot at a happy life.
“These are the community’s animals and are just temporary residents at the shelter, so we hope each one of them will eventually find a home.”
Kittens tend to be adopted quickly but the shelter currently has 13 adult cats aged between one and five looking for a home.
“We have calico cats, gingers, tabbies and black cats; a real variety,” she said.
“We also get ‘tuxedo’ cats, with white chests and white paws.
“They all have different personalities. Some are shy whereas others just want to play, but most of them get along well.”
Miss Corday said the shelter gets a mix of stray and domesticated cats. The kittens have pens and a small playroom whereas the adult cats are free to roam in their own playroom.
Volunteers come in every day to help socialize the cats, groom and play with them.
“Some are strays but most are adult cats who have been surrendered by their owners. This is usually when someone has to leave the island or is moving to another apartment that won’t take pets,” said Miss Corday.
“It’s usually due to economic circumstances, and we’ve seen that happening a lot more in the last few years.
“With the stray cats, people usually call us if they spot one or they’ll bring in the cat themselves, particularly if it’s a mother and her litter. It’s always best to keep a mother and kittens together.
“Sometimes, if someone hasn’t had their cat spayed, they will end up bringing in litters of kittens because they don’t know what to do with them.
“With any stray animal, we will hold them here first for four days in case anyone claims them. After that we put them up for adoption.”
The Bermuda SPCA’s website and Facebook page feature animals currently available, as well as stories of pets finding loving homes.
The adoption fees are: $100 for kittens/cats under-three years old; $50 for cats over-three; $250 for dogs; and $450 for a puppy under six months old. Cats older than six are free.
Bring a carrier with you; alternatively, cardboard carriers cost $15.
By Amanda Dale BermudaSun