The Humane Society of the United States announces the start of round three of SpayathonTM for Puerto Rico, a high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter initiative to alter over 30,000 dogs and cats in underserved communities across the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico by May of 2019. The events will take place Feb. 3-9 at MASH-style clinics in Bayamon, Cidra, Fajardo, Guayama, Toa Baja, Culebra, Vieques and Carolina. Each animal treated will also receive rabies, leptospirosis and other essential vaccinations
For many years, the pet overpopulation problem in Puerto Rico seemed insurmountable and prior to 2017, the euthanasia rate at many municipal shelters was more than 90 percent. Many animals are considered community pets and roam free during the day, co-mingling with strays and other owned animals and contributing to pet overpopulation. When Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, the situation worsened for both people and pets, and the population of animals is estimated to be at more than 300,000 dogs and over one million cats. Zoonotic diseases like leptospirosis are also spreading, threatening both human and animal populations.
The HSUS’s Humane State Puerto Rico program worked closely with coalition partners Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and first lady Beatriz Rosselló, the Puerto Rico Veterinary Medical Association and the Puerto Rico Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners to sign a memorandum of understanding to implement SpayathonTM, which aims to spay or neuter 30,000 dogs and cats at no cost over an 18-month period in 2018 and 2019 through MASH-style spay/neuter clinic at multiple locations throughout Puerto Rico.
“Beatriz and I continue to be inspired by so many organizations and companies collaborating to help Puerto Rico. Already more than 16,000 animals have been spayed/neutered and I have no doubt we will surpass the goal of 30,000,” says Gov. Rosselló.“The immediate impact this has had on communities and the long-term effects of the training and supplies provided to Puerto Rico’s veterinarians enabling them to continue this work is incredible. We are very grateful to the Humane Society of the United States for their leadership on this initiative and for creating such a partnership that will help animals not only in Puerto Rico, but around the world by serving as an example of how these clinics can be done safely and successfully.”
A coalition of 26 organizations lead by the HSUS has come together for the initiative, and thanks to the support of Gov. Rossello and Beatriz Rossello, veterinarians from outside of Puerto Rico have been allowed to perform spay/neuter surgeries in Puerto Ricofor the first time. Heading into the third round of Spayathon, the number of animals spayed or neutered is already over 16,000, and over a million dollars’ worth of veterinary care has been donated by participating professionals. Veterinary professionals in Puerto Rico are receiving training, and after the completion of the initiative, all medical equipment will be donated to support Puerto Rico’s first every high-quality, high- volume spay/neuter clinics.
“The comprehensive initiative exemplifies the best of the animal welfare movement, where we are not only addressing the immediate crisis of pet overpopulation, but also the underlying cause,” says Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “Spayathon will continue to make a major difference and improve the welfare of Puerto Rico’s pets, while also serving as a model for other communities facing similar challenges.”
By spaying and neutering these animals, the births of hundreds of thousands of animals are being prevented. At the end of round four in May of 2019, more than 30,000 animals will have been spayed or neutered. In the first year alone, this will prevent an estimated 200,000 births—equivalent to two thirds of the estimated homeless dog population in Puerto Rico—resulting in fewer animals in both shelters and the streets.
The SpayathonTM for Puerto Rico Coalition consists of: Maddie’s Fund®, PetSmart Charities, Petco Foundation, GreaterGood.org, Rescue Bank, and The 20/22 Act Society, Banfield Foundation, Best Friends Animal Society, Emancipet, ViDAS, Veterinarians for Puerto Rico, Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University, Helping Paws Across Borders The Humane Society of Puerto Rico, The Sato Project, The Government of Puerto Rico, Junta Examinadora de Medicos Veterinarios de Puerto Rico, Colegio de Médicos Veterinarios de Puerto Rico, The Puerto Rico Dog Fund, Friends of Culebra Animals, Santuario de Animales San Francisco de Asis, Wild at Heart Foundation and Our Big Fat Caribbean Rescue, Coalition for Animal Rescue.
Partners include: Doris Day Animal Foundation, Boehringer Ingelheim, Chewy.com, Royal Canin, Dechra Pharmaceuticals, LupinePet, Project V.E.T.S. and Pet King Brands.
The no-cost spay/neuter clinics will take place throughout the following dates:
Round 3: Feb. 3–9, 2019—Bayamon, Cidra, Fajardo, Guayama, Toa Baja, Culebra, Vieques and Carolina
Round 4: May 3–9, 2019—Locations to be determined