June 6, 2012
For every place of darkness, there are also points of light and
we at the Harmony Fund take great pleasure in introducing you to
rescuers who illuminate this great big planet of ours. Today
we're talking with Sol Martinez, Founder of Red de Apoyo Canino, a
Venezuelan charity that is quilting together the compassion of
neighbors, veterinarians and community groups in a united effort to
soften the lives of dogs and cats among them.
Red de Apoyo Canino
works with local teams to help organize free or low-cost spay/neuter
days in a multi-step process that begins with training the
veterinarians themselves to provide safe, high volume, low-cost
surgical sterilization of dogs and cats. To date, the group is
responsible for altering more than 6,000 pets and strays, which not
only greatly improves the lives of those animals, but prevents a
direct escalation of the population in generations that would
undoubtedly exceed a half million, even by the most conservative
An Uphill Battle With Incredible Rewards
"The Venezuelan Association of Veterinarians were opposed to
this idea in the beginning because they complain that by offering
low costs services, we are taking clients from them," Sol Martinez explains.
"But we are starting to see a shift in their attitude and some are
starting to offer low cost spay/neuter services in their private
Responsible pet ownership takes on a different
shape here in Venezuela where pets typically wander freely.
Abandonment is an epidemic that Red de Apoyo Canino is trying to stop.
come and go as they please, with females getting pregnant every time
they get in heat," Sol explains. "The fact that they can get shelter
and food makes these dogs strong enough to reproduce. (They eat
rice, pasta and leftover chicken skin, bones, animal fat and
whatever they can get from the trash cans.) Usually the first and
second time there is a pregnancy, the puppies get placed among
friends and neighbors. After that the puppies are usually abandoned
in a landfill or dumped into the streets to fend by themselves."
A Growing Source of Light for Dogs and Cats
Regardless of the low income, about half of the population
vaccinate and deworm their
pets and care for minor (and not so minor) injuries with what they
have on hand, which can be very basic stuff most of the time.
"They cannot afford spay/neuter procedures and that is why they
happily take their pets when the Red de Apoyo Canino offers this
service in their communities at a very low costs and for free on
many occasions," Sol said. "After spaying the female pets (males are
infrequently sterilized for cultural reasons), they keep them
instead of dumping them on the streets when they get pregnant."
Red de Apoyo Canino regularly conducts humane education programs
which not only help to educate pet guardians, but also drum up
volunteers to help expand the roll out of their services to other
communities. However there is no public funding, and here in
Venezuela, donations to animal welfare are not the norm. So today
we're raising funds for the animals here with the hopes of
spaying/neutering large numbers to prevent more mothers and pups
from being driven away from their homes and dumped to fend for
themselves. Every gift, every dollar is an invaluable and powerful
source of fuel in this effort.
Donations may be made here and will be automatically restricted
to Red de Apoyo Canino.
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