AR-News: Galapagos spay/neuter clinic to begin in May

Anne M. Ostberg aostberg at
Wed Mar 17 13:46:24 EST 2004

(posted on behalf of Animal Balance)

Galapagos spay/neuter clinic to begin in May

The Galapagos Islands, located off the coast of Ecuador in South America,
are known throughout the world for their diverse and unique wildlife,
including iguanas, birds and turtles. Made famous by scientist Charles
Darwin, who developed his theory of evolution after visiting the Galapagos,
these islands are now protected by the government and visited by many
international tourists each year.

What people may not realize is that the Galapagos Islands are also home to
people and their companion animals. The town of Puerto Villamil is situated
at the southern part of Isabela Island, which is the largest of the
Galapagos Islands and home to the most endemic species of the Galapagos.
Isabela has approximately 1,500 human inhabitants, most of whom live in
Puerto Villamil, a fishing village that is becoming a tourist destination. 

Puerto Villamil has an estimated 1,400 dogs and 800 cats, which is triple
the population of one year ago. The Galapagos National Park Service states
that the dogs and cats of the region negatively impact the native species.
As the people do not have fences, dogs wander freely, even into the
protected areas. 

Local government officials have also expressed concern that large numbers of
stray, sick and hungry cats and dogs will negatively impact tourism.
Furthermore, there are no medical services for cats and dogs, and there are
too many cats and dogs for the people to care for. A sick animal is often
shot or hung. 

To address these problems, Animal Balance has been working for the past two
years with the Galapagos National Park Service, the Municipality of Isabela
and the local people to design and establish the program that will:
--Sterilize and treat cats and dogs. --Provide information to the community
about humane treatment of sick animals. --Educate the local people about
perceived health risks associated with the animals.

Animal Balance has been raising funds and seeking donations for this project
over the past year. Donated supplies were shipped in February, and a team of
more than 30 Animal Balance volunteers will depart for the Galapagos in May.
To read more about getting involved in this project, and to read updates as
the project is launched this May, visit the Animal Balance Web site at:

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