Emma’s blog

Welcome to my blog

This is my blog about our role on the planet as Animal Balance. This involves all of us and through this blog, we can connect, open up minds and essentially shake things up in order to move our collective direction forward; increasing global love and compassion.

Thank you for taking the time to read it.


Emma Clifford

Founder and Executive Director

Animal Balance


#4 ‘Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’! Audrey Hepburn

January 2017 I have been going to the Galapagos Islands for 13 years now. It is my second home. For most people, the sharks, giant rays, tiny penguins, blue footed boobies, flamingos, giant tortoises and pre-historic looking iguanas blow their mind and change them forever. It is not that I have become blasé about the amazing creatures who live there, not at all. I saw more animals on this trip that I have ever seen, which tells you that they are being well protected by the Agency for the Protection of Bio-Diversity – ABG, The Galapagos National Park Service and all the other agencies. For example, we used to see about 6 flamingos at the ponds on Isabela Island and this time we saw over 50 and we saw baby iguanas everywhere, in places the ground was a moving black mass of them. The native animals are returning, a sign that the new protection plans are working. What totally blew my mind however, was the number of old dogs we said hello to. You see, when we started the dog sterilization program, everyone died around 2 years of age, there were no middle aged, and certainly no old dogs on the Galapagos. Children thought that this was normal and would be given another puppy to play with, once their other one died. The children didn’t form long-life bonds with their animals, they simply acquired another one. While on Isabela Island, I ran into Sara, Lara’s Mum. Lara is now 13 years old and was the first dog that we spayed. She and her Mum came up to me and Sara smiled andsaid ‘it worked Emma, the program really worked’. Lara gave me a tail way of ‘hey it’s you, nice to see you’, it was beyond magical. Then Pelusa popped out of a local restaurant where she lives and came over for hugs. Her Dad said she is now 16 years old and probably the oldest dog on the islands. He was dead proud I might add. These old dogs represent what is possible.

Another magical moment was when we arrived on Santa Cruz Island, which is the main island with the largest human population and where all agencies have their headquarters.  Dra. Marilyn Cruz, who is the Director of ABG, had managed to keep her new spay/neuter clinic a secret from me until we arrived. It had been built at ABG’s Headquarters, I cried, as did the entire Animal Balance team, as did Dra. Cruz. She and I had dreamt about building a clinic for 13 years and now, here it was. What was once laughed at as a ridiculous concept, had happened.

What they said was impossible, was possible.

What we have all done together is create social change. It took all of us to achieve it. The people who are mandated to protect the native species, worked with those who are mandated to protect the non-native species. Once the community was given the tools and training, they took responsibility for their animals and every relationship changed. We all understood the only way to create a more harmonious living space for all species was for all humans from all spheres to work together. Essentially, if we could not work together, the animals could not live together and many would die as a result; so we did.

Old dogs, a new spay/neuter clinic and vast numbers of native species in the same space. Never let anyone tell you that something is impossible, never. Oh! and I also swam with 6 feet long, very scary looking sharks, I would have said that was impossible too Nope, I did it. I’m possible.

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#3 Animal Warriors in American Samoa!

We currently have a team deployed in American Samoa, working with Alofa Mo Meaola (Love for Animals) the Department of Agriculture and the whole Samoan community. They are in the middle of an intense and targeted, community cat sterilization program. We are sharing the campaign news on our Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AnimalBalance/

Alley Cat Allies kindly funded this clinic, which is the first targeted cat clinic of its kind in American Samoa. Over the past 6 months, the 100 Tru-Catch cat traps and transfer cages were shipped down, in donated space available in containers of car tires. Everyone has worked tirelessly to create this clinic and now we are seeing incredible results come out of American Samoa; they are trapping around 50 cats most nights and systematically moving from village to village! The Department of Agriculture has joined forces with us and they are sterilizing the dogs at the clinic at the same time – amazing international teamwork!

Our volunteers are hard core; they are Animal Warriors! They traveled for 24 hours and then within hours of their arrival they met their partners, unpacked the supplies, set the clinic up in a pavilion and trapped the first cats. Kaboom!  The days are long, hot, sweaty and it is demanding physical work, that often has harsh emotional elements to it. I really do have so much respect for every single person who participates in an Animal Balance campaign; you are pushed to your limit and your life is changed forever.

The Team is currently teaching the Park Service how to safely trap feral cats, deliver them to the clinic and return them to their territories. We all understand the challenges when working with predator and prey species, and rather than fight with one another over which is perceived as the more important species ‘to save’, we instead share our techniques and information and work together to protect all species in the most humane, efficient and logical manner. This has been Animal Balance’s approach since we started on the Galapagos Islands in 2004.


We encourage and coach local community members with whom we work, to set up their own non-profits in order to raise funds for medications and receive off-island veterinary teams like ours. Love for Animals was created by Mona and Nick King, following a MASH clinic for dogs which Animal Balance held in 2012. They saw their community’s need and knew they had to create a way for vet teams to come and help, as the island does not have the capacity to sterilize the large numbers of cats and dogs themselves. They are now collecting their own database of veterinary volunteers who want to help in the future. Alofa Mo Meaola will act like Animal Balance and bring in veterinary teams to help humanely reduce the cat and dog populations on their island.

Participating in an Animal Balance clinic, or one with our partners, is an incredibly enriching and rewarding experience. Many of our volunteers now ‘need’ to go on a campaign every few years, to rejuvenate, to remind themselves of why they do what they do and to meet like-minded people from around the world. Sharing our collective mission with strangers might seem scary, and what we find is, we are all the same, wanting to work towards a greater good. When we unite and share, we are an immensely strong force for positive change and as a consequence, the world becomes a kinder place.

There really is no other adventure like it!

To apply to Animal Balance, click here 

To apply to Alofa Mo Meaola directly in American Samoa, please email them at alofamomeaola@gmail.com