Succeeding in Galapagos, Animal Balance takes s/n to the Dominican
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2007:
SAN FRANCISCO– Moving to the Dominican Republic with her
personal pets in February 2007, planning to start surgeries in
March, Animal Balance founder Emma Clifford hopes that lessons
learned in introducing dog and cat sterilization to the Galapagos
Islands off Ecuador, human population 30,000, can be applied in a
Caribbean island nation of more than nine million.
“I think we’ll be the first to do a focused spay/neuter
campaign in the Dominican,” Clifford told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “We are
targeting villages across the northern coast, starting in Cabrera.
We will work with the local vets and the national veterinary school.
As the Dominican Republic is the place for baseball,” where more
people of all ages play than anywhere else in the world, “we have
been collecting used baseball gloves, and will be giving them out as
incentives for people to get their animals sterilized, along with
the collars and leashes. St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa
has joined us and lent his name to the project to help gain
interest,” with credibility on animal issues earned as cofounder
with his wife Elaine of Tony La Russa’s Animal Foundation.
“We are also thinking of holding dog training classes at the
local baseball stadium,” Clifford said, a tactic remembered from
her years at the San Francisco SPCA.
“I am going to coordinate Animal Balance from the Dominican,”
Clifford said, “and Alice Ng will handle the U.S. office from San
Francisco. We will keep working in the Galapagos,” Clifford
affirmed. “We are four years into the work in the Galapagos now. We
are confident that we have exceeded 70% of the dog and cat population
sterilized on San Cristobal and Isabela islands, and are very close
to reaching it on Santa Cruz.
“Santa Cruz has the largest population of people, cats, and
dogs,” Clifford said, “plus we see a more transient human
population and more cruel treatment of animals there. However, we
are persevering, and expect to hit 70% there this year. I’d say we
are at around 68% by now. We are in the tricky phase of handing over
the project to the municipality,” Clifford added. “Santa Cruz is a
tricky place to work, but we are keeping under the political wire,
and the mayor supports us.”
Turning sterilization programs over to host communities,
after teaching how to run them, is central to the Animal Balance
philosophy. “We didn’t even take a U.S. vet on our most recent
Gala-pagos visit,” Clifford said. “We used four Ecuadoran vets,
and our Animal Balance folks helped. It was great to see the
Ecuadoran vets take the lead and organize everything. They know that
they need to reach 70%,” to stabilize the dog and cat populations,
“and then we’ll help with top-up campaigns [to maintain 70%] in the
“At this point,” Clifford said, “if we don’t visit each
island on our campaigns, the island we don’t go to is offended, so
now each time we do tri-island campaigns, hard core spay/neuter on
Santa Cruz and top-ups and cheerleading on the other two.
“The big issue is the smuggled purebreds now,” Clifford
noted. “On the one hand, people are taking great care of their pets
but on the other, they are making money from selling puppies.