Caribbean Animal Welfare conference: Day Three

caribbean animal welfare conference day three
By Best Friends Animal Society

Caring Fields, Pegasus Foundation Sanctuary

By Sharon St. Joan, Best Friends Network

Kevin Hertell, as Master of Ceremonies, spoke fluent English and Spanish. The conference was very interactive, and Kevin also spent much of his time darting through the audience with a mike, always interested and encouraging, giving people a chance to express their views.

In Florida, where Kevin is Manager of Caring Fields Animal Sanctuary, a sanctuary run by the Pegasus Foundation that cares for cats and horses, he also takes a very active role in the community, relating to animal and environmental issues.

Manatees and other endangered species

He and a number of others took part in a manatee stakeholders group, started by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The manatee is still on the endangered species list—for the state and the U.S. Kevin Hertell would like to keep it that way so that the manatee will continue to be protected. There are a few manatees that swim into the waters of the Dominican Republic, and they can also be sighted as far north as New England.

Kevin has been in the water with a manatee as close as three feet away on the Loxahatchee River, a natural and scenic wild waterway. He describes them as beautiful creatures—not slender, of course, but charming and graceful in the water.

Previously, Kevin was lighting coordinator for the state of Florida for the sea turtle protection program. Loggerhead, green turtles, and leatherbacks, as well as Kemp and Olive Ridley sea turtles, mate off the shores in Florida waters. The sea turtles appreciate having the lighting subdued and not too disturbing, so Kevin made sure no one was harassing them with bright lights.

Another of the species needing extra protection is the gopher tortoise. Over 300 other species use the gopher tortoise burrows—even some small insects! It used to be legal for developers to cover over the gopher tortoise burrows, trapping them underground. Now, thanks to a change in state law, new developers are required to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Kevin is an active participant in the Everglades Coalition, one of the representatives from 49 different non-profit groups who meet quarterly. Over half of the original Everglades is now gone, but it’s essential to protect what is still there.

The Pegasus Foundation--helping horses, cats and the Caribbean!

Caring Fields Animal Sanctuary is a peaceful 23 acres shared by two sister organizations: one organization cares for around 12 retired horses on 15 acres, and the other takes care of 140 homeless cats who live on four acres of inside/outside catteries. It sounds like an idyllic place, on the east coast of Florida in Palm City. The cats receive plenty of socialization. It’s also a Wildlife Land Trust Property, with lots of Sandhill Cranes--all operating along green lines with solar and wind energy.

The Pegasus Foundation focuses its efforts, so as to achieve a real impact in carefully selected target areas. One of these target areas is the Caribbean, where they hold the Caribbean Animal Welfare Conference every two years.

Their next conference will take place in Grenada in 2010.

Many congratulations to the Pagasus Foundation on the immense success of the 2008 Caribbean Animal Welfare Conference! Heartfelt thanks especially to Barbara Birdsey, Peter Bender, Stephanie Dawes, Kevin Hertell, and Anne Ostberg of the Pegasus Foundation for the Conference and for all the invaluable work that they do to help animals!

The Pegasus Foundation works on behalf of bison in Montana; and, as mentioned above, manatees and other endangered species in Florida; also wildlife protection in Kenya, and they aid animal groups in around twenty of the Caribbean Islands to build and expand their organizations and their capacity to care for animals.

Top Photo: Lavanya Raju / Anne Ostberg, Peter Bender, and J. Kevin Hertell, all of the Pegasus Foundation

Second Photo: Karen Samuel /

Third Photo: Caring Fields

What you can do

To read more about the Caribbean Animal Welfare Initiative, the Pegasus Foundation or Caring Fields Animal Sanctuary, please go to their websites