The Truth About Cats and Dogs
Steve McGarva, founder of Achates Legacy Rescue Foundation (Photo Courtesy of Tonic.com)
Story originally published May 2010 on www.tonic.com
Many of the sunniest vacation destinations have a persistent problem with stray animals. But two activists are working with local officials, scores of volunteers and the tourism industry to control the pet population and create a more compassionate climate.
Cancun is a holiday mecca usually associated with warm sun, sandy beaches and perhaps a cooling drink or two, but for Steve McGarva and Darci Galati, their recent visit was anything but a vacation. Rather they were there, along with Galati's three young daughters and many volunteers, on behalf of hundreds of dogs and cats living in the area in need of TLC.
At the end of April, McGarva, founder of the Achates Legacy Rescue Foundation who lives in southern California, and Galati, who launched Cats and Dogs International (CANDi) and hails from British Columbia, spent five exhausting days hosting a free cat and dog spaying and neutering clinic, veterinarian training and meetings with local education and government officials. During their stay in Mexico, about 20 volunteer vets spayed or neutered 364 dogs and cats at the clinic held at the local dog pound. According to a formula used by the World Society for the Protection of Animals, their efforts prevented the birth of more than 30 million cats and 11 million dogs over the next seven years.
Affordable veterinary care is a significant problem there. Despite vibrant tourism in Cancun, the average daily wage is only about $4 and the average sterilization of a pet costs about $200 to $300. "It's just not possible for a lot of people there," says Galati. "We had to turn people away. They're crying. They love their pets. They just don't have the means to do that. We put Frontline on their pets' necks, clipped their nails, cleaned their ears and sometimes gave them collars or leashes because they showed up with a rope around the dog. The need is so huge."
This is the third clinic trip that McGarva and Galati have jointly organized in Cancun with the help of local authorities. They've also rescued about 20 unwanted or stray dogs, although their main goal is to work with local officials and local animal welfare groups to create permanent, humane and sustainable solutions to the problem of stray and at risk animals in Cancun.
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