With so many incredible women living in the tropics, often going unnoticed on their little islands by the rest of the world, I wanted to take the opportunity to share their stories here. This new series, Women Who Rock Their Rock, will feature island women in all their glory, inspiring others with the work they do and how they’re making a difference on their islands.
The woman featured in this third post in the series is helping both island dogs and the people who live among them to stave off hunger and fosters compassionate, loving relationships between the animals and humans.
MEET ANGE DOVEL
ISLAND: Marsh Harbour, Abacos, Bahamas
ORGANIZATION: North Abaco Potcake Rescue
NOMINATED BY: Mariah Moyle
Nassau-native Ange Dovel has chosen a bit of an unconventional life. For 7 years, she’s been care-taking a 13-acre private island in the Northern Abacos with her husband. Despite the fact that the Abacos is home to the third largest city in The Bahamas – Marsh Harbour (population around 5,700 people) – the entire island chain stretches for 120 miles and Ange is at the far end of it. To run an errand in Marsh Harbour, Ange must take a boat ride to the mainland of Great Abaco Island, and then drive one hour south. Getting supplies isn’t always easy or reliable so they have to be fairly self-sufficient. On the island they create their own power and water, cook their own food, and have to be their own sources of entertainment, since there are no restaurants, bars, amenities, or a bustling social scene nearby.
The benefit of being so far removed is that nature doesn’t seem threatened by their human occupation, so they are surrounded by an amazing array of wildlife on a daily basis. Although she’s on a remote island, she has still been able to dedicate herself to her local community with the North Abaco Potcake Rescue organization and has done an amazing job inspiring others to spread kindness and compassion towards our pets and local wildlife.
Prior to living on Marsh Harbour, Ange worked in Nassau as a dolphin trainer and as the Assistant Manager at the Zoo and Conservation Center. Having always been a lover of animals, she was inspired to start North Abaco Potcake Rescue shortly after arriving in the Abacos.
“Potcake” is the Bahamian term for the thick, leftover food that remains in the bottom of a pot of peas ‘n rice after several re-heatings. Traditionally, Bahamians fed potcake to the outdoor, indigenous dogs that freely populated the Bahamas. Hence the dogs have come to be known as Potcakes.
North Abaco Potcake Rescue is a grassroots rescue, consisting of a small group of Abaco residents living within or near the communities of North Abaco. The goals of this team are to nurture kindness and compassion for the people and the animals within these communities; to help those that struggle to afford food, housing, or basic medication for their dogs; to spread the message of the importance of spaying and neutering their dogs; to inspire the children within these towns to see these dogs as the sentient beings they are, deserved of love and protection.
Their rescues are quarantined and fostered, and given the vet care they need to begin their life of health and happiness. The adoption process is a vetting of applicants, home checks whenever possible (even if has to be done virtually), and vet and personal references.
Since they started their “dog feeds” and have made friends with many of the people in the communities, they have seen such a difference in how the people view the dogs in their towns – both the strays and their own. Many of the townspeople have come to understand that these dogs have physical and emotional needs much the same as people – shelter, food, comfort, kindness, love. Ange also works with a team of people from other areas in Abaco to help the people, as well. This includes donating supplies to schools, helping families in need so they are able to have food and presents for their kids at Christmas, and donating clothes and food boxes throughout the rest of the year. And since they are known as “The Crazy Dog People” they know that the help for humans started with the dogs, so it’s a very positive association for them.
Ange also co-produced and recently released a documentary, “It’s a Potcake Life.”
“It’s A Potcake Life” is the story is about these Abaco towns, the people and their Potcakes, and the rescuers that help them. After it was released, Ange assisted with a multi-island school tour based on the movie. She believed it was important for the kids to see themselves in the film being part of a team advocating kindness towards animals. Since all of this, kids that once would not even look twice at their dogs have been inspired to show them affection and love, and for many, the fear of these dogs has turned into pride and motivation to protect them.
Thank you, Ange, for improving the lives of so many animals and people on your islands – rock on!
– – –
Do you know of an amazing woman on your island who deserves recognition for the difference she’s making on her rock? Send us an email and nominate her for a chance to have her featured here.
A version of this feature also appeared on Out Island Life.