After the many roadblocks and hindrances that Saipan Cares for Animals had gone through in the past year with finding and running a permanent animal shelter, SCA director Beth Pliscou has come up with what she calls a “virtual animal shelter.”
This way, instead of SCA sheltering and taking in stray dogs and cats, it will be the community that will “step in and do the sheltering part,” while SCA will focus on offering free vaccines, the anti-worm medication Bravecto, tick and worm medication, and spay and neuter surgery for its rescues.
Basically, “everything we gave to our shelter dogs before adopting out we will give free to the animals that are being sheltered by our community,” said Pliscou.
Rather than seeing this as a compromise, Pliscou believes “this to be a much better solution for all on Saipan to pull together to fix our overpopulation and homeless [animal] problem.”
What led to this direction is because of the problems SCA faced such as “zoning, then bird mitigation. We paid rent—$7,500…for a year [on a property] that we were never able to clear or even walk on,” said Pliscou.
Moreover, “running a physical shelter, like we had in As Gonno, is extremely expensive. A money pit. We have our clinic now in Gualo Rai and it is doing very well. Because we don’t have to care for the shelter animals morning and afternoon, we can be open [for] long hours to better serve the community.”
Pliscou told Saipan Tribune that opening the clinic for longer hours benefits the community and the staff as it does not get as crowded unlike if it were to be open for limited hours only. “This is all much more pleasant for the staff,” said Pliscou.
However, one member of the community who declined to be named expressed concerns and disappointment about not being able to freely give up or surrender the many stray cats or dogs roaming around the island.
“Some people don’t have space in their homes to care for animals or some landlords don’t allow pets, so the strays might continue to be neglected if there’s no home for them,” he said.
Pliscou said that unfortunately there’s a limited number of people who are designated fosters or adoption homes for cats and dogs, but hopes this program will create more homes to help animals when needed.
The SCA clinic is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm. Sundays are for emergencies only. Contact the clinic at (670) 488-2751 for the latest information on their animal medication and for emergencies at (670) 285-5448.