Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
LYDFORD, St Ann:IN 1988 when the song Two White Girls Pon A Minibus by The Word - a duo made up of Maureen Sheridan and her daughter Tasha Wagener - was popular, something other than music was on Sheridan's mind.
On her travels along Jamaica's north coast, she observed the plight of many animals that had been abandoned and were in need. Being the animal lover she was, she decided then that she had to do something about it.
Fast-forward to 2013 and 25 years later, there is a lot of history to be told.
"No one was doing anything on the north coast, even though a lot of animals were in need," Sheridan told The Gleaner on Wednesday.
"We started about 25 years ago but didn't become a charity until 2003."
The "we" is Animal House, an animal shelter located in Lydford, St Ann, which was established in 1996, years after Sheridan actually started caring for stray, injured, neglected, and abandoned animals.
As a charitable organisation, Animal House runs on donations, providing shelter, food, medical care, and adoptive services for animals. While the majority of animals cared for over the years have been dogs, cats, goats, and even horses have been taken in.
Earlier this week, Animal House was one of three organisations that received donations from Couples Resorts, which handed over $1.5 million raised from the annual Charity Golf Tournament to be shared between Animal House, Three Hills Primary and Hamilton Mount Basic schools.
"We sponsor Animal House because of the incredible work they do to house and adopt the stray, abandoned, and abused dogs and cats in the parish," Group Public Relations Director for Couples Resorts Alexandra Ghisays told The Gleaner.
It was only the second local donation of worth, the first being Chris Blackwell's.
"First it was Chris Blackwell, now Couples. Couples is the first company to sponsor us. They have been a life saver," Sheridan said. "We've had a very rocky road. Those two have helped our survival. Without them being so generous, there would have been no hope. But still, we don't get enough local support."
The funds go towards medicine, the building and maintenance of kennels, food, and other necessary items such as tarpaulins. Currently, the house needs more kennels.
"We're desperately in need of more kennels. We have the land, so we need help to build them."
"We get lots of calls from tourists, which leads to us rescuing dogs, and sometimes they adopt them, so we send them overseas - to the United States, Canada, and even Europe," Sheridan explained.
"Next week," she added, "two more dogs will be sent to Washington, DC, and one to Toronto and one to Winnipeg in Canada."
At any given time, more than 200 animals are being taken care of at Animal House, the effort being a full-time one for Sheridan.
Still, she finds time to return to the studios as she seeks to restart her musical career.
"I'm actually doing some work in the studios with Sly and Robbie and Handel Tucker," she revealed.