Partnership with the Pound in Jamaica

When we pulled up to Chukka Caribbean, an adventure outfitter in Jamaica, I admit to being a little bit skeptical. Though I love adventure activities, I always feel a little put off by companies that offer a menu of offerings that are fun but don’t do much to actually showcase an authentic destination. I love an afternoon of zip lining, white water rafting and ropes courses, but what do we learn from them? So many of these companies could be picked up and placed anywhere else on the planet and nothing would change.

That was my fear with Chukka, which actually operates in a number of different Caribbean locations. How did this company differ from anything else that had a colorful marketing brochure at the hotel concierge?

We were at Chukka to go dogsledding. If you’re anything like me, you probably think this is another wacky activity to add to the list. But here’s the kicker: This is the real thing. Just as Jamaica is known for its bobsled team, this Caribbean nation is also home to a dogsled team.

Though that’s pretty cool in and of itself, here’s the part that really made me a believer: The dogs used for the team are rescued from the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. These dogs are from the pound, and many of them were just days away from being put down when they were rescued by Chukka to be trained for the dogsled team.

Right now the company has 30 dogs. They are adopted as adults and must go through many stages of training before they are able to be a part of the team. The JSPCA often calls Chukka if there are dogs that may be a good fit for the company, and even if there isn’t room at the moment for a particular dog on the team, Chukka will rescue the dog and begin the training process anyway. At the very least, the company has helped to save another life.

All of the dogs are mixed breed, or “purebred Jamaican mutts.” One of them is blind. All of them are very approachable and excited to make contact with humans and be a part of the team. Once a dog is retired from the dogsled team, Chukka makes sure that it is adopted into a loving family.

Though the dogsled ride itself was a lot of fun, the real treat for me was petting the dogs and being given the opportunity to help harness them for the ride. Rescued animals have a way of showing how grateful and thankful they are for the new lives that they lead. It always excites me to see organizations commit to positive social change. Chukka’s desire to save these dogs from the shelter and provide them with a better life is one I fully endorse.

 

17 Responses to “Partnership with the Pound in Jamaica”

  1. Akila

    Wow, how interesting — unexpected like the bobsledding team. It is a good way to keep the dogs out of the pound.

    Reply
  2. Emily

    How cool!!! I didn’t know they did this in Jamaica. I’m obsessed with dogs–I used to foster them until I adopted one of the rescue dogs myself–so I am really happy to hear they’re finding a way to rescue dogs and give them something fun to do!

    Reply
  3. Bevin

    I LOVE this idea. Not only is it a great memory maker, but it’s also something fun and off-beat to do with the kids AND you’re saving the lives of these sweet pups. There must be room for more of this type of charitable tourism in the world.

    Reply
    • JoAnna

      I agree, Bevin. I would love to see more companies become more socially responsible in subtle ways that can make a big difference.

      Reply
  4. Trisha

    Wow – what a magnificent idea – I’m familiar with Chukka through various adventures I’ve had with them, but I didn’t know about this…. huge kudos to Chukka for having such a kind spirit – very rare to find in a company.

    Reply
    • JoAnna

      Is it just me, Trisha, or would you be more inclined to give your business to a company that is socially active? I mean, Chukka or any other company shouldn’t rescue dogs *just because* but if you’ve got an altruistic slant that appeals to a lot of people, I think you should let people know. Adventure companies are a dime a dozen. Adventure companies that are making a difference are not.

      Reply
  5. Chris @ CAroundTheWorld

    Interesting post, JoAnna! I would have never thought that this existed in Jamaica. There are so many stray dogs all around the Caribbean that it’s nice to see a company doing something about it.

    Reply
    • JoAnna

      I agree, Chris. The homeless dog population is out of control in a lot of Caribbean and Central American nations, and I think people have just become so used to it that it doesn’t faze them anymore. I was really stoked to find an organization that is actively doing something about the issue.

      Reply
  6. Jill

    I love hearing about activities like this. What a wonderful thing for the dogs….I’m sure you had a wonderful time with them!

    Reply
  7. Candice

    I LOVE that they take dogs from the pound for this, so great!

    Reply
  8. Christine

    What an interesting concept–and what a cool opportunity to get involved with! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  9. Amiee

    That is about the coolest thing I’ve ever heard – rescuing dogs and giving their life a bit of meaning. But what if the dog can’t perform well as a sled dog – do they keep them or take them back to the pound?

    Reply
    • JoAnna

      I asked the same thing, Amiee, and they keep them. In fact, the pound calls Chukka any time there is a dog that they think would be a good fit. If Chukka also thinks the dog would be a good fit, the company will take the dog into its care even if there’s no room on the team. If dog ends up not being a good fit, or once it retires, Chukka helps find the dog a home. Basically, once Chukka rescues a dog, it is committed to ensuring the dog lives a safe and healthy life for the rest of its days.

      Reply
  10. Suzy

    Amazing! It’s so nice to hear when other parts of the world take in a dog that would otherwise be put down. I had no idea they did this in Jamaica.

    Reply
  11. Dalene

    I’m so glad you shared this with me – what a great story and place! My only concern would be them being able to handle it in the heat, I know that huskies work optimally at around -10 to -20 deg C, but I suppose that dogs used to warmer clients would be able to do it. 🙂

    Reply

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