The Humane Society of the United States is launching round six of SpayathonTM for Puerto Rico, a high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter initiative aimed to alter over 85,000 dogs and cats in various communities across the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico by May of 2021. The events will take place February 22-27 at MASH-style clinics in Carolina, Coamo, Humacao, Mayaguez, Vega Baja, Culebra and Vieques. Each animal treated will also receive vaccinations against rabies, leptospirosis and distemper.
To help address the pet overpopulation problem in Puerto Rico, the Humane Society of the United States worked closely with the Government of Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Veterinary Medical Association and the Puerto Rico Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners to sign a memorandum of understanding to implement Spayathon in 2018. The population of unowned animals in the Commonwealth is an estimated 300,000 dogs and more than one million cats. Euthanasia rates at many municipal shelters stand at 90% or higher. Zoonotic diseases such as leptospirosis are also spreading, threatening both human and animal populations.
“Spayathon for Puerto Rico is a historic and lifesaving initiative, having directly helped nearly 50,000 pets to date,” says Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “Together with our partners we have achieved the highest number of animals altered through a single initiative in history.”
The recent surge of earthquakes has increased the needs of animals across the island; many animals are receiving care by local rescuers due to their family losing their home. Rescue organizations across the island, with resources already stretched thin, are now facing the task of caring for animals surrendered by owners fleeing. Spayathon for Puerto Rico provides essential, life-saving services to local rescue organizations so that animals under their care are spayed/neutered and vaccinated, not only controlling the overpopulation of animals but also ensuring diseases such as leptospirosis and rabies are kept at bay in the aftermath of the earthquakes.
Heading into the sixth round of Spayathon, the number of animals spayed or neutered is already over 44,000, and total investment is expected to reach $22 million. Veterinary professionals in Puerto Rico receive training in high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter, and after the completion of the initiative, all medical equipment will be donated to support Puerto Rico’s first ever high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter clinics.
“As a Puerto Rican-based coalition member of Spayathon for Puerto Rico, we have been blessed with the most rewarding experience. Our Island needs this help to control animal overpopulation, especially now that many families in the south of the island are homeless or leaving for mainland USA. We are grateful to the Humane Society of the United States for inviting us to be part of this great event that will change our history and will be a model to follow,” said Maritza Rodríguez, executive cirector of the Humane Society of Puerto Rico.
Spayathon prevents the births of hundreds of thousands of animals who, if born, would have very likely ended up in the street or in shelters. At the end of round six in February of 2020, more than 53,000 animals will have been spayed or neutered. In the first year alone, this will prevent an estimated 300,000 births—equivalent to the estimated population of homeless dogs Puerto Rico—resulting in fewer animals in both shelters and the streets.
A coalition of 28 organizations, led by the HSUS, has come together for the initiative, and thanks to the support of the Puerto Rican government and the Puerto Rico Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, veterinarians from outside of Puerto Rico have been allowed to perform spay/neuter surgeries in Puerto Rico.
In order to comply with local laws regulating the practice of veterinary medicine in the Commonwealth, the HSUS provides copies of all veterinary licenses for participating medical professionals for prior review and approval by the Board of Veterinary Examiners before the veterinarians arrive on the island. All veterinary doctors and technician donate their time to help the people and animals of Puerto Rico.
The SpayathonTM for Puerto Rico Coalition consists of: Maddie’s Fund®, PetSmart Charities, Petco Foundation, GreaterGood.org, The 20/22 Act Society, Banfield Foundation, Doris Day Animal Foundation, Boehringer Ingelheim, LupinePet, Emancipet, ViDAS, Veterinarians for Puerto Rico, Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University, Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at The University of Florida, Helping Paws Across Borders, The Humane Society of Puerto Rico, The Sato Project, The Puerto Rico Dog Fund, Friends of Culebra Animals, Wild at Heart Foundation, Our Big Fat Caribbean Rescue, Santuario de Animales San Francisco de Asís, The Government of Puerto Rico, Junta Examinadora de Medicos Veterinarios de Puerto Rico, Colegio de Médicos Veterinarios de Puerto Rico, Movimiento Social Pro Bienstar Animal and University of Puerto Rico.
In-kind donors include: Mars Petcare pet food and Animal Rescue Site pet supplies.
The no-cost spay/neuter clinics will take place throughout the following dates and locations:
Round 6: February 21-26, 2020
- Carolina: ViDAS, Wild At Heart Foundation and The Puerto Rico Dog Fund
- Coamo: Emancipet, Humane Society of Puerto Rico
- Humacao: Helping Paws Across Borders, The Sato Project
- Mayaguez: Cornell, Santuario de Animales San Francisco de Asís
- Vega Baja: Veterinarians for Puerto Rico, Movimiento (running February 21-23, 2020)
- Vieques: Our Big Fat Caribbean Rescue (running February 1-3, 2020)