Sterilizing dogs and cats in rural Argentina
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2004:
PARANA, Argentina–A caption on page 6 of the December 2003
edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE misattributed to the Buenos Aires-based
Asociacion para la Defensa de los Derechos del Animal a photo showing
a volunteer using a wheelbarrow to return a spayed dog to her home.
The photo was actually sent by Grupo Platero, of Parana,
300 miles northwest.
Formally founded in 1730, about 200 years after Spanish
explorers first encountered indigenous settlements in the region,
and named after the piranha fish for whom the Rio Parana was also
named, Parana served as the first capitol of the independent nation
of Argentina from 1852 until 1862. Parana is still the capital of
Entre Rios province, but had no municipal animal shelter until the
city health department started one in 1965.
Like most city shelters, the Parana shelter killed most
impounded animals until 1994.
Sisters Lucrecia and Veronica Mors, and a deceased friend,
formed Grupo Platero in 1978. In 1985 the Parana shelter began a pet
sterilization program. From 1993 through 1998 Group Platero
augmented the city program by hiring a veterinarian to visit the
barrios, sterilizing homeless animals and the pets of the poor
without charge. This enabled the Parana shelter to cease killing
strays. The Grupo Platero program ended when the sisters could no
longer afford to pay for surgeries.
“Since 1997 we have been pound volunteers,” Lucrecia Mors
told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “We take dogs and cats in groups of 12 or 13
from the neighborhoods to the pound for sterilization” and
anti-parasite treatment, using rented vehicles or hauling the
animals in the wheelbarrow.
The four pound veterinarians continue to offer free
sterilization–when they have supplies.
Rabies vaccination ceased in 1994 due to lack of funding,
Lucrecia Mors said. Now the decade-old no-kill policy in Parana is
jeopardized by rabies outbreaks in the two northwesternmost provinces
of Argentina. Except for one case in 1994, there has been no
transmission of rabies to humans in Argentina since 1985.
The recent rabies outbreaks are three times as far from
Parana as Parana is from Buenos Aires, but there is a resurging
local hue-and-cry against stray dogs, Mors said.
Other Argentine sources have recently reported massacres of
as many as 11,000 dogs, including in Tierra del Fuego, as far from
the outbreaks as one can go without leaving the nation.
“We are suffering the worst social and economic crisis of our
time,” Mors continued. “We face unemployment, child starvation,
and insecurity. Half of all Argentinian people are poor. The only
resources we can count on are our wages. Public employees and
retired people–like us– must accept part of their income in bonds,
with a three-month delay in payment.”
Officially, the Argentine economy is in recovery, after a
five-year slide during which unemployment soared over 20%, but the
benefits of the turnaround have yet to reach much of the human
population, let alone animal aid charities.
“We are very pleased with the ANIMAL PEOPLE newspaper,” Mors
concluded, sending two cartoons showing dogs and cats reading aloud
from ANIMAL PEOPLE and commenting on some of the news items.
“Through ANIMAL PEOPLE,” Mors said, “we know people who
share our feelings about the value of all kinds of life. Knowing we
are not alone in this battle makes us feel better.”
[Contact Grupo Platero c/o Lucrecia Mors, Nogoya 169,
Parana, Entre Rios 3100, Argentina.]