January 23, 2013
Spay/Neuter in Roatan, Honduras
by Alexandra Rothlisberger
Recently, HSI traveled to the island of Roatan, Honduras, to help build the capacity of local animal welfare groups and veterinarians, and to demonstrate the benefits of a mobile spay/neuter clinic. We visited an economically depressed area, where families sleep on dirt floors and feed their animals chicken bones, mistakenly putting their animals at risk of choking on a scrap they consider a reward.
Grateful for help
There, we set up a week-long spay/neuter clinic in the heart of the community, and greeted children and adults alike as they brought their animals down the road to see us. We also completed house visits, during which we were always greeted with a smile, as were the animals returning home after spay/neuter surgery.
Our services were appreciated, and the need for spay/neuter widely understood; most places had a dog or cat who had one day arrived and decided to stay.
Love makes a difference
During this clinic, it was heartbreaking to see so many dogs desperate for affection. They were very skittish, and some we had to trap, but the minute I or someone else sat with one calmly and caressed his forehead, he snuggled closer.
Two dogs in particular stand out in my mind. The first was an abandoned five-month-old puppy so unsocialized that it took the lure of food to get her into a crate. Once inside, she scratched and bit at the door, blatantly disregarding us in her mission to escape.
Within just a day, she was a changed animal. Severely dehydrated and malnourished when she was found, as the week went by, she began to put on weight and trust humans. Today, she is being fostered for behavior training and will then go to her new permanent home.
The second dog I’ll never forget was completely covered in mange—not one hair left—who belonged to one of the youngest daughters of a single mother who lived next to a garbage dump site.
We brought the dog in for a checkup and treatment and he was in terrible pain from one of his front paws, but could hardly stay still to sit with us. Instead, he kept running after the little girl, who was playing in the courtyard with her sister. The girl loved this dog and vice versa; she was completely oblivious to his skin condition.
This project was part of HSI’s commitment to creating sustainable programs that improve the lives of companion animals and their communities across the globe. Our hope is that as many dogs and cats as possible get a second chance. Help make this possible.
Alexandra Rothlisberger is Program Manager, Latin America & Caribbean, Companion Animals and Engagement, for HSI.