With sandy white beaches, blue skies and luxury hotels, the Turks and Caicos islands are already a dream vacation destination for many people.
However, one woman has made them even better with the addition of some seriously cute rescue pups. At Potcake Place, visitors can “rent” a dog for a few hours of beachside cuddles, free of charge!
How Potcake Place Got Started
Potcake Place is actually an animal rescue organization that was started by a woman named Jane Parker-Rauw on Turks and Caicos’ main tourist hub, Providenciales. Parker-Rauw was inspired to open Potcake Place after seeing how the country’s stray canines were mistreated and abused. Before she established the charity in 2004, Parker-Rauw was already known on the island for her compassion for dogs.
What Is A “Potcake,” Anyway?
“Potcake” is a local word used to describe the type of homeless, mixed-breed dogs that run free in Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas. Locals often used to feed these dogs the leftover food caked at the bottom of a cooking pot. Hence the name.
The Goal Of the Business Is To Go Out Of Business
The mission of Potcake Place is to reduce the number of homeless potcakes on the islands. A survey conducted in recent years estimated that there were around 5,000 stray dogs on the island of Providenciales alone. A reported 500 dogs are adopted through Potcake Place each year.
Parker-Rauw Pushes Hard To Spay And Neuter Dogs
Parker-Rauw says the solution to lowering the stray dog population in Turks and Caicos is not adopting out more dogs. Instead, she wants to educate the islands’ population and make sure all animals get spayed and neutered.
“We need to continue education and spaying and neutering, and stopping the dogs from coming in unless they’re spayed and neutered, and that’s been the long term goal at Potcake Place,” Parker-Rauw told CNN.
What Kind Of Dogs Are Potcakes?
Genetically, potcakes are a mix of German Shepherd, Labrador, and Fox Hound Terrier. Although potcakes come in all shapes and colors, they typically have long noses, oversized ears, and smooth fur. When they’re full-grown, they might weigh between 40 and 55 pounds.
What Are Potcakes Like As Pets?
Personality-wise, potcakes are said to be loving, smart, and loyal pets. They’re also laid-back and calm.
“It’s obviously an island thing!” Parker-Rauw joked to Today.
Why Is Potcake Place So Important To The Island?
With no shelter in the country prior to Parker-Rauw’s, strays often starved or faced even worse fates.
“People used to do inappropriate things to get rid of them,” Parker-Rauw told WUSA9. “They’d deliberately run them over…they’d put out rat poison, they’d shoot them.” Now, thanks to Potcake Place, the island’s dogs are vaccinated and kept healthy until they can find their forever homes.
Potcake Place Was Just The Beginning
In addition to establishing Potcake Place, Parker-Rauw also works with the islands’ government to make sure animal welfare education is included in the curriculum for local schools. She also formed an animal welfare joint committee with the local Department of Agriculture. This allows volunteer veterinarians to come to the country without having to obtain a work permit.
How Does Potcake Place Find Its Dogs?
Dogs come to Potcake Place in a variety of ways. Litters of puppies will be found wandering the streets, or a local will discover an individual dog at a construction site. Sometimes tourists have come across potcakes while out exploring the island, or a box of puppies will be left at the Potcake Place door.
How Can Tourists Get Involved?
For tourists to Providenciales, “checking out” one of these rescue potcakes for a few hours on a socialization walk can be a fun and novel experience. Plus, Turks and Caicos ranks among the most beautiful places in the world. So, taking a dog for a walk on the beach here is far more scenic than in most other places.
Turks And Caicos Is A Major Travel Destination
If you aren’t familiar, Turks and Caicos is a group of islands in the Caribbean. Grace Bay Beach, where Potcake Place is located, has been named the best beach in the world by TripAdvisor. As a British territory, the Turks and Caicos’ official language is English.
Walking Potcakes Has Become Popular
Taking dogs on socialization walks has become a popular activity for tourists to the Turks and Caicos in recent years. By the shelter’s 10 a.m. opening time, families may already be lined up to take a dog on a walk. The process is first-come, first-served, and the number of dogs available varies depending on the day. Some days, two pups might be available. Other days, there could be 20.
For Some People, A Single Walk Isn’t Enough
For some visitors, spending a day with a potcake leads to love at first sight. Potcake Place reportedly adopts out over 500 dogs a year. More than 6,000 have gone home with families from the U.S. I mean, just take a look at this face.
It’s A Win-Win Situation For Everyone
How awesome would it be to spend a day at the beach with this little dude? Besides having fun, volunteers assist the dogs in developing their socialization skills by exposing them to new people, sights, and smells. This helps them become more adoptable. A beach outing also takes the dog out of the shelter for some exercise and R&R.
Potcake Place Is Staffed By Volunteers
Potcake Place is entirely run by volunteers, including young ones.
“We’re a band of maybe slightly crazy but very lovely people,” said Parker-Rauw to Woman’s Day. “We have a few bad days, but we have more good days, and we’re going to keep going until we no longer need to.”
Potcake Place Survived The 2017 Hurricanes
In 2017, the islands of Turks and Caicos were hit by two different hurricanes: Hurricane Irma and then Hurricane Maria. Fortunately, the country was able to quickly recover after sustaining significant damage. Take a look at one of Potcake Place’s volunteers getting ready for the storm:
Want To Adopt A Potcake?
If you are thinking of adopting a potcake, here are a few things you should know. There is no adoption fee, but donations are encouraged. Adopters are also responsible for the pup’s transportation back home. Airlines typically charge between $60 to $200 for dog transportation. Potcake Place will sell you a bag that will allow the dog to stay in the cabin with you.
Be Warned—Not Everyone Will Get To Take Home A Potcake
Potcake Place is very careful about whom their dogs go home with. An adoption application is required, along with some paperwork and possible calls to a prospective adopter’s landlord and/or family veterinarian.
“It’s not like picking up a souvenir,” Parker-Rauw said to CNN. “And we’d rather talk people out of adoption than into adoption.”
You Can Volunteer In Other Ways, Too
Of course, there are other ways to get involved with Potcake Place, in addition to adopting or taking a potcake out for a walk. The organization also needs volunteer couriers. Being a courier doesn’t cost anything, but allows you to help escort a dog from Providenciales to a destination airport to meet its new family.
Potcake Is Always In Need Of Supplies
Potcake Place also appreciates it when visitors bring supplies. If you are planning a trip to Turks & Caicos and have room to spare in your luggage, check the organization’s Facebook page for an updated wish list. Some items, like laundry pods, are more expensive on the island than in other places.
Seriously, They Love It When People Drop Off Donations
“Collars, pee-pee pads, squeaky toys, leashes, towels, treats … anything related to bringing up puppies, we need,” Parker-Rauw said to Today.com. “That’s how we survive. We can’t just get in the car and drive to Target to pick up supplies. We don’t have supplies like that here. It’s a small island with no chain stores, no department stores, nothing.”
There’s A Similar Rescue Organization In Hawaii, Too
Potcake Place isn’t the only animal rescue to think of such an idea. The Kauai Humane Society in Hawaii runs a similar program that allows visitors to sign a waiver and take a dog out on an adventure for the day. Since most beaches in Kauai are dog-friendly, you can even walk a rescue pup on the beach.
Take A Dog On A Field Trip
The Kauai Humane Society encourages volunteers to take a dog out and about, whether that’s a hike or just a walk outdoors. Of course, it’s not a proper Hawaiian vacation if you don’t get a shaved ice — and according to the shelter, the dogs enjoy the sweet treat, too! You can really spoil your rescue dog during your day together.
And, If You Fall In Love With Your Pup, That’s OK, Too
Unsurprisingly, many volunteers end up deciding to adopt their field trip dogs. The Kauai Humane Society reports that the volunteer program results in at least two adoptions per week. Dogs from Kauai have gone home with families from all over the globe.
More Dog Walks = More Dog Adoptions
Considering the limited amount of people who live on islands, Potcake Place and the Kauai Humane Society are smart to establish programs like these in order to adopt out more animals. Hopefully, it’s an idea that will spread to other places as well!