May 2, 2013
Saving Lives in Bolivia and Chile
Joining local partners to create change
by Alex Rothlisberger
In September of 2012, a government official in Viacha, Bolivia, under pressure from local farmers whose sheep and cattle were being harassed by neighboring dogs, gave the order to pick up the dogs and poison them.
When she learned about this unfortunate event, Dr. Maria Renee Selaya, HSI consultant veterinarian in Bolivia, requested a meeting with the official and traveled two hours to Viacha to assess the situation. Dr. Selaya quickly gathered that the official and the employees who had carried out his orders were actually disturbed by what they had done, and willing to learn about and implement alternate methods of controlling the population of street dogs in their city.
Dr. Selaya mobilized her team to introduce the concept of spay/neuter in Viacha, along with proper technique for humane euthanasia of animals who are too sick or gravely injured.
Now, the HSI team in Bolivia travels four hours, twice a week, to a place that desperately needed our help to develop the very popular spay/neuter clinics that are in place today.
HSI remains committed to supporting the efforts of community leaders who are eager to develop ways to control the overpopulation of stray dogs in a humane fashion.
Human and animal health intertwined
In a project led by HSI’s consultant veterinarian Dr. Sergio Muñoz Rodriguez, we teamed up with local animal welfare group RIMA and the municipality of Aysen to bring vital veterinary care to Chilean Patagonia. Watch a video about our work.
Aysen has a history of animal husbandry of mainly beef cattle and sheep, and one of the highest incidences of hydatidosis in the country. Dogs can acquire this zoonotic disease when they are fed infected sheep or cattle organs; humans, by handling soil, dirt or animal hair that contains eggs.
HSI is currently active in Aysen, providing spay/neuter services to prevent abandonment of unwanted litters and educating the community on basic care of dogs and cats, while emphasizing the need to cook thoroughly any meat, organs or viscera that are fed to companion animals.
The two programs mentioned above promote safe cohabitation of humans and companion animals. We aim at presenting viable solutions to issues affecting free-roaming dogs and the humans surrounding them, and in turn the community learns how to tackle these issues without having to harm the animals in the process. We see it as a win-win situation.
Alexandra Rothlisberger is Program Manager, Latin America & Caribbean, Companion Animals and Engagement, for HSI.