August 14, 2008
Gente por la Defensa Animal
Animal welfare work is difficult throughout the world, but special challenges face this 2008 Animal Advocate. Mexico City is home to an estimated 3.5 million dogs, two-thirds of which are homeless. Animal cruelty laws are weak and poorly enforced. Well over half of the human population lives in poverty. Yet even in these conditions, People for the Defense of Animals, or GEPDA for its Spanish name, has thrived and become one of the most influential animal protection organizations in Mexico.
Founded in 2000, GEPDA serves as a clearinghouse for cruelty reports and resolution. Working with volunteer attorneys, the organization responds to about eighty cruelty reports per year, resolving them through owner education or legal action. Although existing laws are weak, GEPDA has found creative ways to punish animal abusers through existing documents, and has begun turning the tide in animal law. They also work with other organizations and shelters on companion animal issues, working in particular to stop the inhumane but common practice of euthanasia by electrocution.
HSI had the honor of working closely with GEPDA in Mexico in 2007 when the southern state of Tabasco experienced the worst flooding in 50 years. The government estimated that 1.8 million head of livestock and up to 60,000 companion animals were affected. GEPDA responded quickly, starting a campaign to collect supplies and organize volunteers for the animal relief efforts. When HSI arrived in Tabasco, GEPDA was already on their way with seven volunteers, one and a half tons of food and veterinary supplies. The GEPDA team spent a month in the affected area, providing care to animals in Tabasco and in the state of Chiapas.
In 2008, GEPDA was instrumental in its help with the first annual international Spay Day by reaching out to more than 2,000 people in the main square of Mexico City. GEPDA provided information on the importance of sterilizing companion animals.
Humane Society International congratulates GEPDA for its many achievements and is proud to be affiliated with this 2008 Animal Advocates awardee.