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January 22, 2015

Flicka and Lolita: Helping Dogs in Puerto Rico

Humane Society International

  • Some caring churchgoers came together to save Lolita. Michelle Cintron/HSI

  • A woman fills out paperwork to participate in a recent clinic. Michelle Cintron/HSI

  • Waiting to be seen by the vet. Michelle Cintron/HSI

In Luquillo, Puerto Rico lives Minelson, a young boy with a great love for animals. One of his relatives had a dog in bad condition and decided to take her to the local shelter—which has a 94 percent euthanasia rate. On his own initiative, Minelson went to her rescue.

Flicka, as he fondly calls her, was in very poor health and severely malnourished. Minelson very patiently and lovingly cared for Flicka. He got some help from people in the community to sterilize her. When Dr. Cruz, the veterinarian at a mobile clinic HSI funds to visit the area regularly, evaluated Flicka, he discovered that she was suffering from advanced pyometra (uterine infection) and needed immediate attention. He spayed her and saved her life.

Help save or improve the lives of more dogs like Flicka. Become a Street Dog Defender.

The clinic is arranged by an HSI project coordinator who ensures that we have a minimum 25 appointments made each time, is present on-site to register animals on the day of the surgery and checks that every pet gets safely home at the end of the day.

There are many cases where individuals like Minelson bring a different dog to HSI's clinic every month. Minelson has brought four of his own dogs, but some people bring their neighbor’s dog or even a community dog. Such was the case with Lolita.

Looking out for Lolita

Lolita was abandoned when her family departed Ceiba for the U.S. mainland. Left to roam the streets, she started spending much of her time hanging around a church.

Churchgoers eventually noticed and started caring for her. They rotated feeding her in order to divide the expense, and raised the funds to have Dr. Cruz sterilize and vaccinate her for a low, HSI-subsidized fee.

A woman dropped Lolita off on her way to work; she came back for the dog in the afternoon and was happy and thankful to have obtained treatment for her. The vet also attended to a hot water burn on Lolita’s back, which is now healing well.

Lolita and Flicka are two of 1317 dogs we helped last year in Puerto Rico, thanks to the generosity of our supporters.

Changing the culture for animals

Most municipalities on the island have a problem with dog overpopulation, and some towns pay a fee to have shelters remove the animals—wandering pets along with strays—from the streets. Individuals also pay to have their dogs’ puppies taken away.

HSI’s goal in Puerto Rico is to reduce the population of animals being born in homes. This:

  • reduces the amount of litters being born,
  • prevents the relinquishment of adult females along with their litters,
  • diminishes the number of animals entering the shelter system,
  • minimizes the number of healthy and re-homeable animals left at “dump sites” and relinquished to shelters, and
  • relieves the shelters from never being able to catch up and allows them to focus on re-homing rather than euthanizing. Shelters need room and resources to focus on behavior training and socialization. Citizens need a reason to visit the shelter—currently, it’s easier just to get a puppy from a neighbor.
  • Finally, it allows HSI, in the long run, to focus our resources on street dogs and addressing other reasons for abandonment.

Around the world, our street dog program humanely, effectively controls stray populations and solves related issues, including high euthanasia rates of adoptable pets, the spread of disease and instances of aggression. Sterilized, vaccinated animals also enjoy longer, healthier lives. Please, donate to support our vital work.

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