Putting an end to animal misery
PANAMA. It does not take long for anyone who sets foot in Panama to acknowledge the overpopulation of stray cats and dogs wandering aro...
PANAMA. It does not take long for anyone who sets foot in Panama to acknowledge the overpopulation of stray cats and dogs wandering around aimlessly through the city streets. But with the help of Patricia Chan and her group of volunteers, something is being done to tackle the recurrent problem.
Mrs Chan and a group of volunteers opened Spay Panama, a cats and dogs sterilization center in 2001, to provide affordable spaying and neutering services to low income families, “feeders” and rescuers.
Their admirable work helps put a stop to the misery of many undernourished animals by controlling the overpopulation of cats and dogs, many of whom Mrs Chan argues, once had homes, but were forced to take to the streets when owners did not originally sterilize their pets and subsequently could not afford the offspring’s care.
Today, in a fully equipped house in Bethania, Mrs Chan, veterinarians, volunteers, rescuers, get together to work on their joint mission.
Rescuers and feeders sit in the front entrance along with the animals waiting for treatment. Once inside the house, a small room serves the dual purpose of Mrs Chan office, where she updates Spay Panama’s website and constantly votes for her cat in an online contest, and a spare room for visiting veterinarians, the next in line being a doctor from Michigan.
Past the small room is the living room, where experienced veterinarians and vets in training wait until they are called for surgery, petting one of the in-house cats. To the right, the fully-equipped operating room, with everything from sterilized kits—one specifically for dogs and one for cats—to well-lit operating tables.
Inside, staff members move about preparing for the day’s operations. To the left, animals in comfortable cages wait to be treated, and in some special cases, waiting to be adopted. (But Spay Panama is not an adoption center.)
Spay Panama has already carried out more than 19,000 neutering operations, more than 600 alone in the Casco Viejo area. According to Mrs Chan, if you see a stray cat or dog in Casco Viejo, chances are they have paid their visit to the Spay Panama facility.
Many of these animals are brought to the center by people who feed them but cannot afford to take them in, mostly pensioners, or rescuers.
Spay Panama also offers subsidized sterilizations for pets of low-income families who cannot take them to local vets, for a minimal contribution of $10 for cats and $20 for dogs. Mrs Chan pointed out, however, that families who cannot afford the contribution are not turned away.
The center also carries on-site operations, travelling to 24 of December this past weekend and planning a trip to Arraijan on February 15 to hold spaying operations in the area.
This arduous work would not be possible without the donations the center receives, all of which unfortunately are not enough to cover Spay Panama’s expenses—the center has run a deficit for the last few years of operations. Spay Panama’s work is unique in the country, and it would be a shame if they couldn’t fulfil all of their potential for a lack of funds.
When asked about recruiting the government’s help, Mrs Chan confessed that more than receiving help from the government, the center provides help to it whenever government agencies hold animal care programs.
There are many ways you can help Mrs Chan and her crew continue their work with stray cats and dogs. First, they sell beautiful calendars for $5 available in Exedra Books and the Arrocha in Tumba Muerto. Instructions to donate cash or supplies are available on its website: www.spaypanama.org/Donate.html
Additionally, Spay Panama could use the help of volunteers willing to donate time to care for the less fortunate animals. Veterinarians, or any other animal-loving person, including youngster looking for something to do this summer, can make a difference. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 261.5542 for details.
Last but not least you can also help Spay Panama from the comfort of your home, by voting for their in-house pet, “Unico”, in The Humane Society International's Spay Day Online Pet Photo Contest. Simply visit their website, www.spaypanama.com, and click on the Spayday 2009 link on the left, which will give you a link and instructions to donate and vote for “Unico.”