Expats and locals in Chapala volunteer for pet sterilisation project

Published:  13 Mar at 6 PM
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Stray dogs and feral cats as well as household pets are being sterilised and neutered as part of a massive effort by Chapala expats and Mexican residents to reduce the numbers of unwanted pets on the streets.

One unwelcome and unexpected aspect of expat life in many favourite destinations is the high number of homeless dogs and cats allowed to wander and forage where they can. In the majority of first-world countries, well-organised shelters and local aid services ensure strays are picked up, taken care of and rehomed, and the vast majority of responsible owners make sure their pets are neutered or sterilised. It’s something of a shock to newly arrived expats to find this isn’t so in Mexico and many other locations worldwide.

Chapala has an established expat community which, along with local residents, supports and promotes animal rights as well as volunteering at shelters andarranging pet adoptions. Expat volunteers organise regular clinics with the help of local vets, in order to attract lower-waged families who can’t afford to have their pets sterilised by private sector veterinarians.

Some volunteers cover the local community, knocking on doors, distributing promotional leaflets and generally publicising the date of the next free veterinary clinic. Others provide free transportation and help with pet handling for those finding it difficult to cope alone.
At first, the group was mostly composed of multinational expats happy to volunteer their time and expertise on behalf of Chapala’s stray dog and cat population. Nowadays, the original members consider its expansion to include Mexican residents as one of its major successes to date.

In addition, the town’s single vet is now reinforced by three veterinarians from Mexico City who’ve been sponsored by a sympathetic foundation. The success of the regular clinics is being demonstrated by a reduction in the number of pet-owning families arriving from the local barrio, proving the programme has successfully dealt with the area’s needs. The clinics are now attracting pets and their owners from outlying areas of the municipality, and even from other nearby communities. As a result, the volunteers are planning to start up new, two-day mini-campaigns in nearby towns as soon as is practicable.
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