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August 19, 2010

Understanding the Dynamics of Animal Welfare

Can Ecuador bring about change?

Humane Society International

  • Two girls adopting Cappuccino. Alexandra Rothlisberger/HSI

  • Dogs for adoption. Alexandra Rothlisberger/HSI

  • A street dog with debris. Alexandra Rothlisberger/HSI

  • Dogs in the street. Alexandra Rothlisberger/HSI

  • Choosing a buddy. Alexandra Rothlisberger/HSI

  • Best friends forever. Alexandra Rothlisberger/HSI

  • A wandering pack. Alexandra Rothlisberger/HSI

  • Pat, pat. Alexandra Rothlisberger/HSI

  • Awww. Alexandra Rothlisberger/HSI

by Alexandra Rothlisberger

It is easy to take for granted how far we have come in the U.S. on the pet adoption front. Most dogs we see walking with their owners are happy mutts who sleep in warm, comfortable homes and eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Each of these dogs wears a leash and a collar with an ID tag around his neck. Dogs in Ecuador are not so fortunate, yet.

A recent visit to three animal welfare organizations revealed that Ecuadorians might just be ready to learn that giving their pets free access to the street does not equate to a walk in the park.

A day-long event gets Cuenca adopting

This August, I visited ARCA, an organization working for the protection and defense of all animals in the third largest city in Ecuador. In 2008, HSI funded ARCA’s low-cost veterinary clinic in Cuenca and we have since collaborated on various aspects of the group’s development. Just a few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of co-hosting ARCA’s very first adoption drive, which also encompassed aspects of responsible companion animal guardianship, name tagging and lessons on the importance of walking pets on a leash. The event also served as a food drive and as a general donation collection day. Overall, it strengthened the community’s belief in the significance of ARCA’s work.

ARCA’s veterinary clinic is open to the public and offers treatment to animals for all ailments. Services are offered at a low cost, but for spay and neuter, a no-charge policy will be considered whenever budget allows. A c-section was recently performed on a street dog, proving that at ARCA there is always room—and heart-- for treating strays.

HSI is proud to be supporting the efforts of such a dedicated team, and we will continue to provide ARCA with further veterinary training and general capacity building assistance.

With a census, Loja could lead by example

Loja’s vibrant animal welfare ambassadors have joined forces to create HUELLAS, a group of several members--all friends, all young, all very professional. HUELLAS founders first approached HSI with general knowledge of what an organization aiming to help improve the lives of animals in their city should be about. Today, HUELLAS is collaborating with two local universities and the municipality to complete Loja’s first companion animal census. The census is part of a bigger picture, in which education, spay and neuter campaigns, and animal control are key to making life better for stray and owned companion animals in Ecuador.

HUELLAS recently lost a shining light from within their ranks: HSI is honored to have had Oswaldo Polo attend our Animal Care Expo in Nashville, Tennessee this past year, and to have met a bright mind that contributed time and thought to a great cause. He will be missed.

Can Ambato become stray-free?

Ambato is officially known as “the city of flowers and fruits,” but animal lovers will be happy to learn that it might also become a city with fewer stray dogs in Ecuador. A chapter of the Quito-based animal protection organization PAE made its home in Ambato. Founded by a skilled veterinarian, PAE Ambato has it on their agenda to continue targeting strays with their spay and neuter campaigns. HSI will work closely with PAE Ambato to assure the staff has all the tools they need to further address issues of companion animal abandonment, poorly-informed guardianship, and stray overpopulation. HSI will also assist the group with further veterinary training and development.

Alexandra Rothlisberger is Program Manager, Latin America & Caribbean/Companion Animals and Engagement for HSI.