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A passion for hooligans sees 150 Jamaican dogs rescued by Canadian charity

Montego Bay Animal Haven and Save our Scruff join forces to save once rejected canines

By Ricky Browne

Canada is soon to welcome a planeload of new Jamaican immigrants — all rescue dogs who were once unloved and unwanted.

A total of about 150 Jamaican rescue dogs are soon to fly to Canada in their own chartered plane. In all likelihood, had they stayed in Jamaica, they would probably have been euthanised as funding has largely dried up during the pandemic.

Many Jamaicans would jump at the chance to emigrate to Canada, but now it is Jamaica’s much overlooked dogs which will be getting the chance.

The historic rescue flight is now confirmed for March 13th, and adopters in Canada are already reaching out to find out more about their prospective dogs.

A Royal Caribbean Terrier

The dogs were rescued by a Jamaican animal charity called the Montego Bay Animal Haven (MBAH) which has been a leader in Jamaica for rescuing and homing abandoned dogs.

The dogs are being taken to Canada via a chartered plane by the Save our Scruff Rehome and Rescue charity, and will be found new homes in Canada.

Dogs at the MBAH pay attention

Plans are now in progress to ensure that the flight goes off without a hitch, which includes getting microchips for the dogs, and transporting the dogs to the airport safely before the flight.

Save Our Scruff has already got the word out about the soon coming rescue dogs via their own site.

SAVE OUR SCRUFF

Save Our Scruff is a non-profit organization located in Toronto, Canada, that focusses on rescuing dogs from around the world and finding them safe and suitable permanent homes in Canada through adoption, advocacy and education.

The Save our Scruff logo

Some 50 percent of the charity’s rescue dogs come from outside of Canada – mainly Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Texas  and Egypt.

While the flight of 150 Jamaican dogs is a historic one, there are still masses of dogs in Jamaica that are in need of rescuing. If this group of Jamaican dogs settle well, it may create a new way forward for Jamaican dogs.

Already, Save our Scruff is publicising the upcoming arrival of the Jamaican rescue dogs on its site, and is accepting applications for adoption.

“We are currently accepting General Applications. We have over 100 dogs to pair and it’s easier for us to secure general apps, screening and pairing accordingly. Once your application, questionnaire, references are completed, we will send you a pairing email of a particular dog, and ask if you’d like to be matched. Dog information is limited, and we will send you what we have. **Please keep an eye on your junk mail**,” said a message on the Save our Scruff site.

“Most of these dogs will be roughly 30-50lb. And will be “mutts” like in the picture. Think — the dogs you see on resorts on islands. Skinny, hound mixes in various colours. 

“We are particularly looking for homes interested in dogs that are 5-9 years old. As well as homes open to tripods — 3 legged dogs.

“All dogs currently live in a ‘sanctuary type’ environment in Montego Bay. They live on a large property and are familiar with staff, volunteers & vets. They eat in kennels & sleep in kennels. They all previously came from the streets, were abandoned, abused, neglected, or for some reason were in need of help. They are used to majority of times freely roaming at the space, with their pack although are practising on leashes as we speak. “

MBAH

Founded in 2009, the MBAH has sent many Jamaican rescue dogs to their ‘forever homes’ abroad, but nothing on this scale.

The MBAH logo shows a Royal Caribbean Terrier in a regal pose

“This is the start of something new,” said Tammy Browne, the founder of the MBAH, who is overjoyed by the upcoming flight.

“This is the biggest programme for the MBAH” Tammy said. “Nothing like this has been done in the Caribbean before, and to my belief, unless a hurricane relief effort, this is one of the first, if not the first mass rescue relocations ever done in the Caribbean.”

The joint MBAH/Save our Scruff rescue mission says a lot for the power of determination, and sticking to achieving your vision through thick and through thin.

TAMMY… I feel like its the highlight of everything I’ve worked for

“I feel like it’s the highlight of everything I’ve worked for,” Tammy said. “ We take in the very worst cases of abuse and neglect, although we can give them a ‘home’ as in keep them fed and dry — we can’t give them the love and attention that a family of their own can give.

“To be able to send 150 dogs to their forever homes is more than I ever dreamt possible. This is like the icing on the cake! I feel like we found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

Angela, brand ambassador for MBAH

“I’m beyond happy, I  can’t put into words just how absolutely blessed I am to know these people and work with them. The one thing everyone has in common is they want to change the lives for these animals – 150 in one go is like  BBBOOOUYYYYAAAA!” said Tammy.

Moving ahead, the charity will look to continue its programme of improving the lives of dogs in Jamaica, especially by controlling their rate of reproduction.

“We will concentrate on raising funds for more and more spay and neuter clinics. Every community we have been to and explained what we would like to do, all have offered to get involved and help. Even the poorest of areas have been so happy to feel empowered to make a change – even though they themselves are struggling.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN TERRIERS

MBAH currently has 248 dogs, Tammy says. But it will be left with a mere 98 after its 150 dogs head off for greener pastures.

Its hard to get a grip on how many dogs are in need of rescue in Jamaica. “Bloody loads!” says Tammy.

Happy hooligans enjoy a better life with the MBAH

Dogs in Jamaica are much loved by some, but it is probably safe to say that the majority of Jamaicans are quite indifferent to them. Many are quite nervous around them.

Jamaican mongrel dogs – nicknamed Royal Caribbean Terriers by Tammy, have a reputation for being alarmist – barking their heads off at anyone who comes too near. Their barks are worse than their bites, and many will go speeding off to a safe distance if it looks like they are going to be hit with a stone or kicked away.

But they are very good at getting more serious dogs very excited. So homes that can afford them may also have an Alsatian or Doberman or Rottweiler which can be quite fierce to intruders.In a country where a large percentage of people don’t have any great love for animals in general and dogs in particular, MBAH gets much of its support from overseas donors. Over the years it has succeeded in finding homes abroad for some of its hundreds of dogs – but never anything on this scale.

Angela was once a street dog herself

Jamaican mongrel dogs abound and tend to have smooth coats, light brown in colour and are usually quite small and skinny, quick to yap and can be quite energetic and affectionate to their owners.

But many Jamaicans keep these dogs as a sort of early warning system, to warn of potential intruders and to even scare away the more timid ones. The murder rate in Jamaica is high, so many people like to have a dog, particularly outside, to help them sleep at night.

Historically, Jamaicans have been wary of dogs, ever since the days of slavery, when planters brought back large hounds from Cuba to track down and terrorize runaway slaves.

So while many people have affection for their own dogs, broadly speaking, Jamaicans are not overly fond of them. Recently, wealthy people have taken to having miniature pure breeds that they can pander as a way of showing off their wealth. But in general, dogs in Jamaica are animals that people feed leftovers and keep outside, occasionally telling them to shut up when they get too noisy.

In Jamaica you are as likely to see a person walking a dog on a lead in a park, proudly wearing a new jacket as you are to see a hat-wearing tiger riding a unicycle.

A PASSION FOR HOOLIGANS

The MBAH charity is run by Tammy Browne, who has dedicated her life in Jamaica to treating and caring for dogs, many of which have been abandoned and maltreated to the extreme.

Tammy poses with a MBAH rescue dog

Tammy has another nickname for the Royal Caribbean Terriers – hooligans. As a part of her charity she has started a Hiking with the Hooligans tour, where dog lovers get the chance to walk with a large group of very friendly and excited rescue dogs.

The tour and the idea around it help to show the love that Tammy has for Jamaican dogs, something that is clear to anyone who meets her, especially and including canines.

Dogs on the hiking with the Hooligans tour

Tammy is my cousin, and I have known her from before she knew herself. Through all that time her love for dogs has been evident to anyone with eyes.

Jamaicans in general have a healthy distrust of dogs, where they act mainly as protection first, and pets afterwards.

But Tammy Browne, who is to Jamaican dogs as Mother Teresa was to poor souls in Calcutta, is not your typical dog-lover.

MBAH brand ambassador

As a child in Jamaica she always had a close affinity to her pet dogs, sitting down with them while they were eating and treating them like the members of the family that they were. When she went to live in England a little later, her love for animals grew and she worked in a stable with horses. As a young adult, Tammy went back to Jamaica and soon had her own menagerie in her small apartment in Montego Bay.

Soon she was working with animals at Chukka Blue, which had horseback riding as one of its tours offered mainly to cruise ship passengers on Jamaica’s north coast.

But seeing the unfortunate situation of many of Jamaica’s dogs, Tammy soon branched off on her own and started a charity to rescue as many of Jamaica’s unwanted dogs as she could handle. And then she rescued more.

Moving into a new home, at one point she had about 50 dogs at her house, and about 150 others nearby.

MBAH rescue dogs

Support came largely from abroad, as Jamaicans tend to believe that there are more important things to worry about than the welfare of dogs and/or cats. Jamaica being a developing country with a low per capita income, many Jamaicans worry first about feeding their families, keeping them safe and then thinking perhaps about the welfare of those people less fortunate than themselves.

Few think about the welfare of man’s best friend.

But as hard as things have been to get funds, things have got much harder over the last year as the pandemic has hit hard. In Jamaica the economy has fallen by about 18 percent, leaving many people with very little to get by on. Tourism has dropped off a cliff. Fortunately, remittances to the island have actually increased, which has helped protect the economy somewhat – but not enough for people to want to help out Jamaica’s dogs.

Angie hides from the paparazzi

So Tammy was looking at being forced to euthanize many of her dogs, as she would no longer be able to pay for their upkeep.

The upcoming departure of 150 of Tammy’s rescue dogs is like a small miracle, that just goes to show how valuable passion can be when someone tries to tackle their jobs.

Anyone else may have thrown in the towel long ago, but Tammy has persisted because of her great love for dogs. And now her efforts have been rewarded, and 150 Jamaican dogs – often seen as the bottom of Jamaica’s society – will have achieved the Jamaican dream of moving to a developed country, living in a comfortable home with a family that loves them.

Tammy and Angela follow Covid-19 precautions

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