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On Island Profile: Hubert Brumant

Dec. 3, 2006 -The Humane Society's Hubert Brumant cannot remember life without animals under foot. With a soft laugh, he shakes his head at the impossibility of such an existence.
Growing up on a farm in Dominica, Brumant was one of 12 children. I was second oldest, he says, so I got responsibilities early. I was in charge of the rabbits and the pigs. We each had our own duties.
For the last 13 years, Brumant has managed much more than rabbits and pigs. As Humane Society of St. Thomas' manager of animal care and control and animal cruelty investigator, he is responsible for the protection and hopeful adoption of a large colony of dogs and cats at the societys Nadir facility. It comes naturally to him.
Though not quite a man for all seasons, Brumant wears a few other hats. He teaches math twice-weekly at Wesleyan Academy, is a preacher at the Church of Christ, and on Monday (his day off) cheers on his two sons, Elisha 12, and Elija, 7, in soccer matches.
Brumant recently received a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of the Virgin Islands. It took me about seven years, he says. I took classes nights and weekends.
In a ceremony earlier this year, former society executive director Joe Elmore praised Brumant for earning his degree while still maintaining his full-time job at the shelter. Brumant was modest in accepting the praise. "I thank God for this, he said, adding, I love you all, and let's continue to care for the animals."
Brumants early affinity with animals has guided his career. He graduated from Clifton Community College on Dominica, after which he embarked on a 10-year career as an agriculture officer with the local government.
I was in charge of the rabbitry, he says. We got the rabbits from England. I would take them to the farmers and explain how to use their dung for fertilizer, how then they could grow vegetables and have the meat for food.
Brumant also traveled to other Windward Islands instructing them in the latest farming technologies. And he regularly visited the schools instructing youngsters in the importance of local farming.
Dominica is a very large island, he noted. You could put lots of St. Thomases there. We had 375 farmers in one district with five villages that I was in charge of.
He was recognized by the Caribbean farming community in 1990, when he was voted Officer of Excellence by the Windward Island Farmers Association.
After a 10-year career with the Dominican government, Brumants life took a romantic turn, which sent him on his way to St. Thomas. I met my wife, Pam, in church in Dominica, he says. She is Dominican, but she was a U.S. citizen, and she was living on St. Thomas.
Once on island in 1993, Brumant didnt waste time before being hired at the Humane Society. Within a couple months, he was named manager, a position he held for a number of years, until assuming his current post.
As he walks around the facility, Brumants way with the animals and his staff of six is comfortable, friendly. He leans over the little pen in the front office, which holds a very yappy Yorkshire terrier.
She was just brought in this morning, he says. Shes not happy. Brumant says a landlord brought her in because he thought his tenant had left without making arrangements for her. Somebody will come for her soon, he says. She is well-cared for.
That is not the fate of most of the animals he sees. The happiest days of my life," he says, are when an animal is adopted. That makes my day. But, those days dont come often enough.
Brumant laments the lack of community support in getting animals spayed or neutered. We have a program thats really inexpensive, he says. Its so easy, and its the right thing to do. The program costs $50 for one animal, $35 apiece for two or more.
The statistics are grim. Brumant says the shelter takes in about 80 to 90 dogs a month. Out of that, we adopt about 20 a month, he says. He shakes his head. You do the math.
The animals who dont find homes are put to sleep. And that is Brumants task. Ive been doing it for so long now, he says. If only someone had had the animals spayed, he sighs.
Leslie Fisher, the societys new executive director, had words of praise for Brumant. He has a hard job, she says, and he cares. Most days, I would say it is a difficult job. He really does a great job for us — especially with animal cruelty, he is our primary investigator. He has years of experience, he is well-educated and he understands the needs of the animals.
Brumant takes animal abuse personally. I never get over it, he says. "I am always shocked at the things people do, from neglect or outright cruelty. Its the same [thing].
Last year, he says, a construction worker called and reported two dead dogs.
"We went out and found the remains of two dogs that had been tied to a tree," he says, "they were skeletons. We met them with ropes tied to their collars and tied to a tree with a padlock on a chain. I think about what those animals went through. And when you think how somebody could do that to an animal, they could do it to anybody.
What really gets to Brumant is that it could have been prevented. It's so horrible when you think they could have brought them to us, or we would have picked them up, at no charge. There's no excuse for this; it's first-degree abuse."
Last year, the animal abuse bill was finally voted into law after an uphill five-year struggle. Though this is a step in the right direction, Brumant says the society is having a hard time getting the cases processed through the Attorney Generals office. They say they have so many cases, they put them on the back burner.
One improvement from the legislation, Brumant says, is that since first-degree animal cruelty is now a felony instead of a misdemeanor, the police now respond. They are right there when we call them, he says. Its later the process gets slowed down.
Brumant gives the dog kennels a good hosing down as he guides a mini-tour of the shelter. Picking up the hose is simply a chore thats second nature. He reaches into a kennel and picks up a one-eyed Chihuahua. She is so sweet, he says. She was attacked by a pit bull; Dr. Moore sewed her up, but she lost the eye. Shes only a year old she would make a wonderful pet.
Brumant says the shelter is always in need of volunteers to help with the animals. "We have lots of school kids who are doing their community service, but we always need more. We need people to come walk the animals, socialize them, make them more adoptable.
The shelter hours can be demanding. Its not unusual for Brumant to be called out in the evening for an emergency. Night before last I was called for a dog injured in a fight. By the time Id taken the dog to Dr. Moore, it was midnight when I got back home.
Brumant doesnt complain about these incidents. His aim is to help an animal whenever he is needed; it is his life. And he is only half finished with his career.
He has his eye set on a longtime ambition. "I've always wanted to be a vet, he says, and the degree puts it closer. I may study at Ross University on St. Kitts in the future; but now, I have a family to support.
Brumant is excited about the society's new animal campus, scheduled to open late in 2007. I cant wait," he says. "What a wonderful thing that will be for everybody. (See Humane Society Groundbreaking Marked By Jubilation.).

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