Animal Balance Programs 2004 to 2016
2007: Dominican Republic
Since 2007, Animal Balance has been organizing high-volume sterilization clinics on the North Coast of the DR, in and around the town and beaches of Cabrera. A group of Dominican Veterinarians visited our clinics in 2010. Inspired by her visit, Dr. Lourdes Ripley founded Pets Breeding Control, a Dominican NGO focused on organizing MASH clinics. Based in Santo Domingo, Dr. Ripley now manages the major activities related to MASH in the Dominican Republic. She encourages veterinary students, from the three Veterinary Schools on island, to join her, ever expanding the low cost spay and neuter service to Dominican communities.
2009: The Samoan Islands
In 2009, Animal Balance was contacted by the Animal Protection Society of Samoa (APS) for help with the free-roaming dog and cat populations on the islands. During the initial planning stages for this campaign, the American Samoa Humane Society (ASHS) also reached out requesting services. In 2009, Animal Balance sent a small team to the Samoan Islands to conduct a feasibility study. This was soon followed by training seminars in both countries. We also began the long process of transporting essential equipment, such as anesthesia machines and dog traps on ships to the islands. In 2010, APS began receiving continued help from Australia. At this time Animal Balance began to focus on American Samoa, hosting campaigns in 2010 and 2011. Animal Balance also started training Para Vets and technicians at the Department of Agriculture in the best practices of high-volume sterilization.
In 2011, a new local group, Love for All Animals or Alofa Mo Meaola, formed on American Samoa. They placed their primary focus on hosting MASH clinics with Animal Balance. At this time, the Humane Society International offered assistance by providing funding for a long-term veterinarian at the Department of Agriculture and by funding a dog census. Animal Balance continues working closely with Alofa Mo Meaola and the Department of Agriculture to hold targeted sterilization campaigns going from village to village until over 80% of the cat and dog populations are sterilized.
2013: Operation Potcake, the Bahamas
In 2011, the Director of the Board of Directors for the Bahamas Humane Society, contacted Animal Balance looking for assistance the large population of free-roaming dogs. After conducting a feasibility study in 2011, Animal Balance started the extensive planning process for this massive campaign. Animal Balance headed back in 2013, to host the largest campaign to date: Operation Potcake.
We split the island into target zones and formed a coalition of local animal welfare organizations to then count the dogs in each zone. The data was then entered into Google Maps, which was utilized to select clinic locations. We placed our 5 clinics in the ‘hot spots’; the areas with the densest dog populations to reduce transportation needed between trapping areas and clinics. Over 200 volunteers from around the world flew in to work with the coalition to host a two-week, high-volume sterilization campaign. Our team comprised a 20 person trapping team and 5 clinics, each with teams of 25, and 100 support volunteers. This proved to be an incredibly successful campaign in which 2,315 dogs were sterilized. The clinic was in the news every day and endorsed by the Prime Minister, requesting that it become an annual event.
2104: Operation Vira Lata, Cabo Verde
Animal Balance received word that an American woman in Cape Verde, Mrs. Judith Kizell Brans, was actively seeking help for the suffering dogs in the archipelago. Animal Balance conducted a feasibility study in 2013 in which. A month before she passed away, she kindly put Animal Balance in touch with Claudia Fernandez, who took over the coordination.
In January of 2014, our team flew in to work with the Bon Amigo’s volunteers and Claudia Fernandez to hold a ten-day mobile clinic. We sterilized over 80% of the dogs in each village and held a fun doggie parade on the last day to celebrate the animals. In 2015, Claudia Fernandez, understanding the importance of the agreements with the Mayor’s, then started a new NGO called Vira Lata, who focus on village MASH clinics with Animal Balance. In 2015, we sent dogs cages and dog traps to Vira Lata, building up the infrastructure for the future campaigns. Animal Balance won a scholarship for Claudia Fernandez so she could attend the HSUS EXPO in 2015 and meet others from around the world conducting the same work. Now ‘Love for Animals’ from Samoa are helping and advising Claudia with her NGO: Vira Lata. Vira Lata is the name of the local street dogs, hence Operation Vira Lata.
2014: ZMASH, Hawaii
Animal Balance went to Hawaii in April 2014 to hold a high volume sterilization campaign and training with the Oahu SPCA. This was our first ‘Z*M*A*S*H campaign’ which meant we offered surgical and non-surgical sterilization; spays, castrations and Zeuters. In five days, Animal Balance worked with local partners to sterilize 305 animals, including 65 male dogs by Zeuterin, 68 male dogs by surgical neuter, 96 female dogs by surgical spay,43 female cats, and 31 male cats. The 65 dogs who we Zeutered would not likely have been sterilized otherwise. We made appointments for 68 Zeuters, which is slightly more than half of the total number of male dogs presented for sterilization. 2 were disqualified and sent for castration. This showed us that there was potentially a place for non-surgical techniques and that those who will not castrate their male dogs, will choose to Zeuter them if it is offered to them. We then took this program to the other Hawaiian Islands and worked with each Humane Society to find out if this was indeed the case.
2015: Trapped in Paradise Program (TIP)
Trapped in Paradise (TIP) is a targeted, community-based sterilization program designed to humanely reduce the population of free roaming cats who live on islands.
TIP started in 2015, as during the feasibility visit for the ZMASH program, Animal Balance found out how many cats were being euthanized on the Hawaiian Islands. Shocked, Emma Clifford contacted Becky Robinson at Alley Cat Allies and asked for assistance. TIP was formed and thus far we have helped Maui Humane Society and Molokai Humane Society to develop and find funding and volunteers for their own TNR programs. We have also purchased and shipped 150 traps and transfer cages to Maui, building up their capacity to help their islands’ cat populations. In 2016 we will add; the Big Island of Hawaii, the Galapagos Islands, Cuba and American Samoa to the TIP program.
In 2015, a partnership developed with Humane Society International and the Saipan Mayor’s Office to hold the first MASH campaign on Saipan. Inspired by the 2015 clinic and understanding the critical need, the community then organized themselves and created ‘Saipan Loves Animals’ to provide volunteer assistance and enrichment to the shelter dogs. Animal Balance is now raising funds to return and systematically go from village to village holding MASH clinics to humane reduce the populations.