Published On: Tue, Nov 22nd, 2022

MP Brison turns to the “low-hanging fruit” of stray animals

PHILIPSBURG — Dr. Edward Joonho Lee, a board certified anesthesiologist base in Sarasota, Florida, intends to set up a “pop-up vet clinic” in St. Maarten for the treatment of stray animals, dogs and cats in particular, it appears from a press release (see below) issued by Member of Parliament Rolando Brison.

According to the press release, Lee studied at the “American University College in Cupecoy St. Maarten” (the actual name is American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, or AUC) from 1999 to 2001. However, Lee transferred to Ross University in 2001 so he could complete his third and fourth year of medical school requirements in New York City, where Ross University had hospital agreements. Ross University School of Medicine is a well-known private school in the Caribbean with its main campus located in Barbados.

MP Brison states in the release that Lee, who is not a veterinarian, will come to the island “to help to diminish the exponential breeding of stray dogs and cats.” He also mentions Francisco Lacroes as “UP President” though we have been unable to verify independently whether he really holds that position. Lacroes was the number 23 on the UP list of candidates for the 2020 elections, winning 85 votes.

The website domain of the UP (upparty.com) is currently for sale for almost $7,995 (or $667 per month) and the party’s Facebook page seems to have been discontinued. At least, a search shows a message that “this content isn’t available right now.”

Brison and Lacroes state that they met a week ago with Dr. Lee who is identified as the “lead organizer” of the initiative. Dr. Susan Burkhart, founder of the animal welfare organization 4 Leaf Rover (not to be confused with the Canadian company Four Leaf Rover) intends to bring four veterinarians to St. Maarten, planning to spay and neuter more than 300 dogs, pending permission from the local government.

4LeafRover is a non-profit organization based in Richland County in South Carolina. It has completed a mission on the island of Grand Turk where three veterinarians, three vet technicians and numerous volunteers spent a week taking care of 300 dogs and cats and one turtle.

To execute a similar project on St. Maarten, the organization wants to raise $20,000. Brison’s press release calls on citizens to donate through the website https://www.4leafrover.net.

The 4leafrover-team will work with local animal welfare organization SXM Paws.

Brison emphasized the need for action, referring to the overpopulation of stray animals, and the apparent inability of local organizations to deal with the situation. “Many local foundations have the sole purpose of caring for these animals, which is commendable. However, the number of strays has grown significantly.” Brison also points out that some of these strays could become violent. “We are pleased that Dr. Lee has offered to contribute to humanly reducing the breeding of stray animals.”

Brison does not forget to add the United People’s party (UP) to the mix. “The UP is committed to solving the many social issues affecting our country. This is low-hanging fruit and we will do everything we can to see it through to fruition.” If the UP party still exists, remains to be seen.

Dr. Lee’s pop-up vet clinic and its volunteers will collect stray animals from the Dutch and the French side of the island. Surgery will take place on the Dutch side. Participating veterinarians will be compensated for their time and loss of revenue, the press release states.

At the time of this writing it was unknown when or if the project will be executed.

Publisher’s Note: Being the center point of this article, Dr. Edward Lee contacted StMaartenNews.com to clarify some points. Firstly, in regards to his medical schooling at AUC and at Ross. He graduated from the later in 2004 in New York where he completed the last two years of his medical training. Secondly, the idea to bring 4 Leaf Rover was his, explained Dr Lee. “I am the lead organizer of the initiative. I made contact with 4 Leaf Rover and Dr. Susan Burkhart who is the founder. Last month, I performed a Google search and discovered 4 Leaf Rover. Dr. Burkhart graciously accepted my request for her foundation to help out St. Maarten.” Thirdly, as to when the project will be executed, Dr. Lee wrote to us the following: “We are aiming for February. I am now back home in the USA. I will be back on the island December 12 to meet with the various animal welfare organizations as well as the veterinarians.” The various animal welfare organizations are Animal Welfare, SXM PAWS and Animal Defenders.

Photo caption: From Left: MP Rolando Brison, Dr. Edward Lee MD, Francisco Lacroes


Dr Lee offers to help address the challenge of stray animals

PHILIPSBURG–Leader of the United People’s UP Party and Member of Parliament MP Rolando Brison and UP President Francisco Lacroes have committed to working with veteran US Dr Edward Lee MD to help to diminish the exponential breeding of stray dogs and cats on the island.

Dr Lee has teamed up with several American-trained veterinarians from the USA and several veterinary technicians and volunteers preparing for a one-week visit to St. Maarten. They will work with local non-profit animal rescue organization SXM PAWS and others, to control the rampant breeding of stray dogs and cats through internationally known US based animal care organization 4 Leaf Rover.

Dr. Lee met with Brison and Lacroes last week to discuss how they could combine efforts to help deal with hundreds of stray dogs and cats roaming the island. Dr. Lee, who attended the American University College in Cupecoy St. Maarten from 1999-2001 before returning to Sarasota, Florida, where he practised, has been a board-certified anaesthesiologist for 20 years.

MP Brison said Sunday in a press statement, “Before hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, St. Maarten already struggled with an overpopulation of stray animals. Many local foundations have the sole purpose of caring for these animals, which is commendable. However, the number of strays has grown significantly, and it hurts my heart and many animal lovers, to see these animals suffer. We also know the risk of some becoming violent, and we are pleased that Dr. Lee has offered to contribute to humanely reducing the breeding of stray animals.”

“The UP Party is committed to solving the many social issues affecting our Country, and this is a low-hanging fruit which we will do everything we can to see through to fruition,” said MP Brison.

Dr. Lee will nurse some of these animals back to health and provide spaying/neutering services for free, utilizing donations from foundations and technical assistance from at least one local veterinarian. Veterinarians who participate will be compensated for their time and loss of revenue.

“We will find and gather stray dogs and cats on both the Dutch and French sides and to bring them to our “pop-up vet clinic” on the Dutch side where we will be conducting operations,” said Dr, Lee.

Lacroes said, “Dr Lee’s journey is an amazing one. He returned to St. Maarten after studying as a Medical Student in 1999 and has graciously offered to give back to the community, which was his home for several years and soon to be his permanent. Being a lover of dogs myself with seven, I am happy to be able to champion this initiative”. 

Dr. Lee has visited the island seven times this year alone since February, and said he has frequently encountered hungry and skinny stray dogs and puppies. “Based on my interactions and conversations with some of the animal rescue organizations on the island, such as SXM PAWS in Cole Bay, the stray animal problem has become exponentially worse since Hurricane Irma,” said Dr. Lee. He is an animal lover who recently lost his 14-year-old 30 kg terrier mix, Abby, last October. He had rescued and adopted 13 years ago.

He said, “To honour the memory of Abby, I decided to embark on a mission to help improve the living conditions of stray animals of St. Maarten and to help diminish the exponential breeding of stray dogs and cats on the island.”