Venezuelan animal charity helps save the lives of thousands of dogs and cats

Venezuela is on the northern tip of South America. It has a very diverse landscape ranging from the jungles of the Amazon basin to the highly arable land to the mountain. It's main export now is that of oil. Despite it's wealth from oil, there still remain many poor people in the country. These people also have pets but the problem has been in getting proper shots, medication and low-cost spay neutering to help stop the huge influx of pets being born.

Responsible pet ownership takes on a different shape here in Venezuela where pets typically wander freely and the canine population is exploding. Abandonment is an epidemic that has also been hard to stop. Coming to the rescue of the many dogs and cats and their people also is the organization, Red de Apoyo Canino. It is a Venezuelan charity that is bringing together the compassion of neighbors, veterinarians and community groups in a united effort to make the lives of dogs and cats easier among them.

“Dogs come and go as they please, with females getting pregnant every time they go into heat,” Sol Martinez (director of Red de Apoyo Canino) explains, ”The fact that they can get shelter and food makes these dogs strong enough to reproduce. (They eat rice, pasta and leftover chicken skin, bones, animal fat and whatever they can get from the trash cans.) Usually the first and second time there is a pregnancy, the puppies get placed among friends and neighbors. After that the puppies are usually abandoned in a landfill or dumped into the streets to fend by themselves.”

Regardless of the low income, about half of the population vaccinate and deworm their pets and care for minor and sometimes major injuries with what they have on hand. But as for spaying and neutering their pets, it is an expense that they previously could not afford so Red de Apoyo Canino has started a low-cost Spay/Neuter program. They work with local veterinarian teams to help organize free or low-cost spay/neuter days in a multi-step process that begins with training the veterinarians themselves to provide safe, high volume, low-cost surgical sterilization of dogs and cats. To date, the group is responsible for altering more than 6,000 pets and strays. This not only greatly improves the lives of the animals, but it also prevents a direct escalation of the population in generations that would undoubtedly exceed a half million, even by the most conservative estimates.

As Sol Martinez goes onto explain, “The Venezuelan Association of Veterinarians were opposed to this idea in the beginning because they complained that by offering low costs services, we would be taking clients from them. But we are starting to see a shift in their attitude and some are starting to offer low cost spay/neuter services in their private practices.” He continues with, “The people cannot afford spay/neuter procedures and that is why they happily take their pets when the Red de Apoyo Canino offers this service in their communities at a very low cost and for free on many occasions. After spaying the female pets (males are infrequently sterilized for cultural reasons), they keep them instead of dumping them on the streets when they get pregnant.”

The organization also regularly conducts humane education programs which not only help to educate the owners, but also help to find volunteers to expand the roll out of their services to other communities. The main problem is that there is no public funding, because in Venezuela, donations to animal welfare are not the norm. So funding to continue these invaluable programs must be continuously raised from other sources. Although that can be challenging the organization is determined to do whatever is necessary to continue offering these lifesaving services to the people of Venezuela and their pets.

VIDEO Red de Apoyo Canino- Venezuela.

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