The SSPCA

SSPCA Animal Rescue Funding Appeal

Seychelles Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. ~ Mahatma Ghandi

PLEASE HELP STOP THE CRUELTY

There is no animal shelter in the Seychelles - please help us build one!

Click to enlarge - gross abuse and neglect
by Greg Lake, founding member of King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer

One look at the helpless creatures on these pages will give you an idea of the scope of the animal neglect and abuse that is currently taking place in the Seychelles, an island nation off of the east coast of Africa. Beneath the idyllic tropical scenes of white sand beaches, jewelled waters, and palm trees lies another world of animal cruelty and animal abuse that is as shocking as it is unbearable. There are very few existing laws to enforce, and even those laws are routinely ignored. The situation is very grave indeed and help is needed immediately.

The purpose of this appeal is to raise funds for the building of an animal shelter to care for these suffering animals and to put a stop to these cruelties taking place. The plans are already in place to build this shelter and the government has donated some land but we desperately need your financial help in order for the building work to proceed. If you would be prepared to join us in helping to save these poor animals then just click on the "To Help" page or contact us directly for more information.

Please browse our site and feel free to sign our guestbook. If you can help in any way at all, we'd be most grateful to hear from you. Please send a link to friends, place a banner on your website, contribute financially, or just drop us a note of support. We really do appreciate your compassion and interest.

If ever you are unfortunate enough, as indeed I was, to find yourself in a position where you have to witness the kind of suffering which is shown on this site, you will instantly realise, that in terms of this unbearable agony, a second becomes an eternity and anything beyond that doesn't bear thinking about. The suffering you see on this site is taking place as we speak, so please help us to move as quickly as we can.

On behalf of the myself and the SSPCA and all those who campaign so bravely I thank each and every one of you for your support.

Best Wishes,

Greg Lake.

How I Became Involved with the SSPCA

Greg Lake

A few years back, after a long period of working in the studio I decided that I needed a complete break away and took a holiday on the Seychelles islands off the east coast of Africa. The Seychelles is always advertised as being something of a paradise island, pristine beaches, peace and tranquillity, etc. What they do not tell you in the brochures is that the Seychelles is pretty much a dictatorship, not too dissimilar from some of those in the neighbouring African countries. The people there are extremely poor and there are very few shops or facilities on the island at all. After a couple of days driving around you begin to notice small clues such as the fact that people very rarely smile and everywhere you go there seems to be a sense of hopelessness and resignation. This I later came to realise is what happens to people when they are denied their freedom. It is also totally impossible to ignore the amount of starving dogs on the streets, some in a truly awful condition.

From the moment that my wife and I realised the political situation of the island the whole perception of the holiday changed. The feel good factor had completely disappeared and one could not help but feel for these poor people for whom life was more or less a treadmill of monotony, subservience and/or intimidation. But what made it all so much worse was the constant sight of suffering animals - speechless, hopeless and abandoned.

To be honest at one point we decided to cut our losses and get on the next available flight out, however we were soon to discover that there was only one flight every ten days so that put an end to that little plan. In the end we simply decided that we would try and make the best of it so we kept to ourselves and tried to focus on all the other natural beauty that abounds there. After a while we discovered a small restaurant a few miles from the hotel where we were staying. It was hard to find, as you had to drive through quite a lot of jungle and twisting roads that of course were mainly unsignposted.

Read the rest of the story.

One night we were driving back through the jungle on our return from the restaurant, the road of course being pitch black as there were no lights whatsoever. All of a sudden out of the corner of my eye I saw two small flashing lights coming up from the gutter at the side of the road. I instinctively hit the brakes and slowly reversed the car back to see if I could see what it was. There, peering up from the gutter was a tiny puppy, probably no more than ten weeks old. I could see in the headlights that it was in a very bad way, thin from starvation and shaking with fear.

My wife and I both being animal lovers and having owned dogs all of our lives did not need to say anything. We instantly picked up the puppy, wrapped it in a towel and placed in a beach basket on the back seat of the car and continued on our way back to the hotel. As we were driving along we discussed how on the following morning we would take the dog to the local RSPCA and get it cared for.

The only problem now, at this posh hotel where we were staying, was to sneak past the concierge without it being seen. Luckily my wife came up with a little distraction plan and as she was talking to the people at the front desk I calmly walked past with the basket under my arm, dog concealed beneath the towel. Thank goodness it remained silent long enough for me to get past the desk and round the corner on my way to the room. As soon as we got back to the room we ordered up a chicken sandwich and a glass of milk and the little dog ate its first meal in a very long time.

The following morning I called the front desk and explained that I had found a homeless puppy and asked them for the number of the local RSPCA. The lady who answered the phone was completely bewildered. "RS what?" she said. I explained to her that I was looking for the animal rescue centre. "Oh no, we don't have one of those here," she replied. As I put down the phone the realisation of our position started to become horribly clear. Here we were with a starving homeless puppy stranded on a desert island thousands of miles away from home. I then had visions of having to fly the puppy back to London along with all the quarantine arrangements, etc.

Just then the phone rang and it was the lady at the front desk again. "I think there is a man on the other side of the island who takes care of animals," she said. "I can try and find his telephone number for you if you like". I thanked her very much for her kindness and after a short while we made contact with Frank and Alexa - the animal people.

Immediately I spoke to Frank on the phone I could hear in his voice that he was an extremely kind man. He gave me his address and told me to bring the puppy over and that he would take care of it.

By this time we thought that the puppy would fare better if it had a name and we had recently seen the film Babe, the story of the pig. We decided that this would be a good name for the little one so Babe it was. Very soon we were off in the car and on our way to Frank's house on the other side of the island. As we drove into the car park Frank and his wife Alexa were there waiting to greet us. Frank immediately took the puppy in his arms and asked us if we would like to come inside. I don't know if you have ever seen the children's film Doctor Doolittle but this was it. There were animals of all kinds running all over the place. Cats, dogs, parrots; it really was an amazing sight. The strangest thing was, that instead of fighting and squabbling as you might expect, they instead all seemed to be living in complete harmony.

Frank started to explain the situation on the island and how there was no formal provision whatsoever for animal welfare. As a result he and Alexa had more or less turned their home into an animal sanctuary. Frank explained that it was very hard on them sometimes because some of these poor creatures were beyond saving and he had the unenviable task of putting them to sleep himself. He told me that he and Alexa were often in tears because of this but that he simply could not let these poor animals suffer in agony, and this was the kindest thing he could do.

After we had been talking for a while Frank asked me what I did for a living and I explained to him that I was a musician and it very soon came out that I was part of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, which they knew because their son apparently had some of the records. Frank explained to me that he had been pleading with the government on the island to set up an animal shelter but without success. He explained that some of the government ministers were not exactly over endowed with compassion for animals and that it was very hard to get through to them. I said, "Surely having all these starving animals all over the place is bad for tourism, why doesn't the government see that it would be in their own self interest to get this stopped?"

He then went on to tell me that the native people on the island essentially have an African mentality and as such are far more thick skinned and to an extent hard hearted where the subject of animal cruelty is concerned. I told Frank that I thought this was a dreadful state of affairs and that something needed to be done about it. Frank nodded in agreement and said, "Perhaps if you were speak to one of the government ministers he might be more inclined to listen." I told him that I would be more than happy to give it a try if he thought it would help.

The following morning I went along to the government offices with Frank to see if we could meet up with the minister responsible for wildlife on the island. After a long wait we were called into the ministers office where we sat down and tried to explain our point of view. Although he nodded his head in agreement from time to time I never really thought we were making much headway. The sort of answer he would give would be, e.g., how difficult it was to get the laws changed and to persuade other ministers to come on board, and that it would all take time and that he will see what could be done, etc. We left the meeting feeling quite frustrated, but I was now becoming even more determined that something should be done to stop all this cruelty and neglect from taking place.

Just before we were due to leave the island I went back over to Frank and Alexa's house to see how Babe was doing and to say goodbye. As we arrived I saw her racing around the garden and playing with all the other dogs, her eyes bright as buttons and now looking far more like the healthy puppy she ought to be. She instantly recognised us, which was most touching, and it was with more than a little tinge of sadness when we finally had to say goodbye.

The saddest thing about Babe was, that a few weeks after we had left the island Frank had managed to find a really good home for Babe with a doctor and his wife who were friends of his. They already had two dogs but really took a shine to Babe and decided to give her a home. The tragedy was that a few days after Babe had gone to live with them she was run down by a car right outside the house as she ran to cross the road to get to the beach. She was killed instantly and the Doctor and his wife were both heartbroken as indeed were myself and my wife, and Frank and Alexa as well. We had all played a part in saving Babe's life and restoring her to happiness and it was a very cruel blow to see her to go like this.

The one good thing about Babe's life is that it has ignited a fire inside of me to get something done about the appalling state of animal welfare in the Seychelles, and in that regard Babe's life although short will definitely not be in vain.

This is how my involvement in this campaign began and I am truly grateful for your understanding and support.

Warm Regards,

Greg Lake.


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