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 Martínez, 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 estimates.
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 Martínez 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 practices.”
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.
“Dogs 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.