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The Story of BARC, Basseterre Animal Rescue Centre

by Stephanie Koathes Aug 12, 2019

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Good things happen when people are united by a cause. Mala Weston, Moses Humphreys, Eliza Lischin and several others came together to help St Kitts’ stray animals through BARC. BARC is the Basseterre Animal Rescue Centre currently under construction on land donated by the Chandiramani family at Lime Kiln Commercial and Institutional Park.

Yello caught up with Eliza Lischin and Moses Humphreys, alumni of the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and owners of One Love Animal Hospital, a group of hospitals in NYC.

Eliza and Moses shared a little about how BARC came to be and the plans for the future of the organisation.

Tell me a little about how BARC got started.

Eliza: Mala is the one that started it back in early 2000. It wasn’t a shelter necessarily, that was her vision for later on. She started it just as a rescue organisation for all the stray animals that are all around St Kitts. It was [called] PAWS at that point. She started the rescue organisation with the vision that one day, there would be a space for a shelter.

BARC started construction about a year ago. We’re going to be open and fully functional in September.

Moses: It’s been a decade in the works and the dreams of getting this opened and then there was kind of a core group of people who came together and were like hey let’s make this happen. So we formed a board, I think it was last April, and then by June, we broke ground. We had some really heavy fundraising and set some really tight timelines. We came together and said, let’s make it happen.

Will you have vets working with you?

Eliza: Yes. What’s happening is that Ross University has a new shelter medicine programme that they’ve developed. All of the students that run through that shelter medicine programme will be coming here to do vaccines, learn about shelter medicine, what’s important, all the de-worming and things like that. They’re going to do their rotations through here with the shelter medicine veterinarian who’s in charge.

With the veterinary school,  there are a lot of school groups for animal husbandry and rescues and what we’re hoping is to tap into those groups to foster the animals. So the animals come in here for a period to make sure that they’re disease-free, healthy, and not aggressive. Then we hopefully will get those student groups to help foster them and socialise them.  

Do you work with the university?

Moses: We’re both veterinarians that went to Ross and then we moved back here a couple of years ago so that our kids could grow up in St Kitts.

Eliza: So we’re old alumni who are working to get this started.

What would you say the attitude is like on St Kitts towards animals?

Eliza: It definitely could be better. That’s another part of what we’re trying to do, which is also to educate and have different spay and neuter days and vaccine clinics, things like that.

Moses: We went to school here 20 years ago, and definitely it’s progressed. It’s gotten a lot better.

Barc’s kennels

Will you do any outreach programmes in schools?

Moses: Absolutely. Within the next year, one of our short-term goals is to start working with the Department of Education and the ministry and start getting into the primary schools. We’ll teach about animal welfare, how to approach stray dogs, how to just be kind to all animals. Changing attitudes is not going to start with people our age; it’s going to start with the kids.

This is going to be for the community, hopefully, ran by volunteers from the community. We’ve already received a lot of interest from people interested in helping out.

With tourism increasing here we can hopefully also tap into that market to get people to come volunteer. Then they might fall in love and want to take an animal back home.

Is that something you’ll do as well, assist people in getting rescue animals back home with them?

Absolutely.

Will there be space for dogs and cats or other animals?

Moses: There is space upstairs for cats, but we’re focusing on the dog kennels right now. Being brand new, the goal is to get our protocols down [first] and make sure that everything is functioning well and then we’ll move on to the cats.

There will eventually be four buildings. There will be an open pavilion for teaching purposes where we can invite the students down to do spay [clinics], or we can invite the community for workshops.

What endeared you to this island?

Moses: It just felt like home. We’ve always loved it, and we came back every year after school and everyone said welcome home. We moved here from Brooklyn after 13 years.

When construction of BARC is completed, there will be several kennels for dogs, a kitchen area, exam room, outdoor pavilion, a cat ward and outside space for the animals. For more information on BARC, its members and story visit their website.