Editorial Note: This is part of a series highlighting Lady Freethinker’s Urgent Need Fund 2023 grant program recipients. The program was created to help nonprofit organizations with animal rescue, care, and awareness projects improving the treatment of animals. Learn more about the program and how to apply here.

“If I was paid to do this… I would quit,” Karen Whittaker told Lady Freethinker in a phone interview. “The amount of pain and suffering you see daily…it’s hard.”

As the founder and executive director of Ocean Acres Animal Sanctuary in Barbados, Whittaker is surrounded by hundreds of dogs and cats every day who are often severely neglected, ill, and starving. The extreme number of dogs on the island is overwhelming and the sanctuary is the only one of its kind.

Despite the daily challenges of running a shelter overflowing with animals, Whittaker and her team have made incredible changes on the island, providing life-saving medical treatments, daily care and shelter, and immense amounts of love to each animal that they rescue.

They’ve also chartered hundreds of dogs on “Freedom Flights” to Canada for adoption.

dogs packed in for a charter flight

Charter Flight to Canada (Courtesy of Ocean Acres Animal Sanctuary)

Animal overpopulation in Barbados is one of the main issues the rescue faces, as a lack of spay and neutering creates an extremely high stray population. Whittaker has seen many dogs come from abusive homes, starving on the streets, and barely hanging onto life in trash dumps.

With the $10,000 grant awarded by Lady Freethinker, Ocean Acres Animal Sanctuary will be able to provide medical care for approximately 70 dogs, including annual vaccinations, flea and tick medications, deworming, and most importantly, spay and neutering.

The grant will also help fund education and exposure to help those interested in learning about animal welfare, including going to local schools and hosting field trips to their sanctuary. 

“We must not waste this precious gift we have been given,” Whittaker told us. “You can take in all these dogs and the problem remains. That’s why we have to start taking a different approach.”

two men carrying dog in kennel

Volunteers Transporting Rescue Dogs (Courtesy of Ocean Acres Animal Sanctuary)

While Ocean Acres Animal Sanctuary has done an incredible job taking in these animals, she urges everyone to understand the underlying problems with dog and cat overpopulation and stresses the need for systemic change. 

With gifts from our incredible supporters, like you, we were able to grant Ocean Acres with life-saving money that will not just aid in the care of individual lives but will work as part of a bigger solution.

Lady Freethinker is grateful for all those who make the Urgent Need Fund possible, and we are proud to support this organization that is taking a larger, systemic look at the welfare of animals.

We encourage everyone to go visit and support this amazing sanctuary on their website and Facebook page.

And, if you’re considering growing your family, check out their precious dogs and cats available for adoption.