18 March 2008

Responding after Hurricane Dean: Sterilization & Vaccine clinic held in Mahahual & Xcalak

Mid January marked the very first spay & neuter campaign in Xcalak and Mahahual. Since Hurricane Dean swept through the Costa Maya over 6 months ago, many areas are still struggling to put their towns and lives back together, the animals are no different. With most not having homes, they are forced to fight the elements as they try and survive on the streets. Food and shelter is sparse and not always available. Puppies starve as the mothers barely try and keep themselves fed. Packs of dogs became a common sight in Mahahual so dog fights and starving loners is a regular occurrence. This is a natural instinctive result when disaster occurs in an area.

The results of the statistics are all too frequent. Just one (yes, 1) un-spayed female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 dogs in 6 years. The cat figures are just as alarming. It is a proven and well documented fact that sterilization is the only humane way to deal with the overpopulation problem. That, along with vaccinations and de-worming, provides better health for the animals that do survive a rough life on the streets, whatever the cause. There are also serious consequences to public health and the environment when overpopulation is present.

This campaign was made possible through Disaster Services of the Humane Society of the United States in conjunction with Humane Society International and Sociedad Protectora de Animales de Yucatan. We appreciate the many people and local businesses that provided contributions such as monetary donations, lodging, food and of their personal time. We thank you for helping make these clinics a success!


It was wonderful to see the love so many locals had for their animals. For an area whose closest vet is over 2 hours away, introducing veterinary health was warmly welcomed and something of great need. The community support and involvement was impressive. Everyone is already planning on how to make next year better!

In Xcalak, the clinic was held at the SEMARNAT office, where the staff was more than accommodating. Presentations were given to the children in the schools of both areas. Many were curious enough to watch surgery, help recover their own pets and stayed all day to lend a hand and help out.

There were so many moments that made an impact on us all. When we were made aware of the “military dogs” as we began to call them, we were unsure of their wellbeing. We saw the trucks emerge with many soldiers, guns in hand, and numerous dogs. They waited with their companions, many of them all day, and seemed to really care for them. They helped us vaccinate and discharge the dogs and came back and forth to pick up the last few taking their time to wake up. We will never forget the sight when so many of them happily wagged their tail as we brought them back to the soldiers. They were appreciative and paid close attention to their after surgery care and medications that so many needed. The experience was endearing and everyone was pleased when we found 3 of the puppies a new home.

The local municipal agency of Chetumal also attended. We worked very closely with the veterinarian at the dog pound or “perrera” and began to build what we hope to be a great working relationship. You can see Dr. Ricardo here learning the spay technique from one of our veterinarians. As the capital of the state, Chetumal seems eager to begin more programs and just last year held a spay/neuter campaign internally with the help from vets at UNAM, the University in Mexico City. This makes a wonderful addition to the already working relationships we have with the municipalities of both Playa del Carmen and Cancun.

We were able to treat almost 200 animals in 5 days, effects of which are already apparent. It was a good start to our continuing efforts to help bring control to the popualation in these areas.

For more information on spay/neuter clinics in Quintana Roo, contact Kelly at klcoladarci@yahoo.com.

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