An animal well-being and Environmental Protection Project
Santa Marta Region, Magdalena, Colombia
Large populations of stray dogs and cats create severe problems for public health, social harmony, community wellbeing and biodiversity. In Santa Marta and the surrounding regions, an estimated 25,000 animals live on the streets, unprotected, and with little investment from local authorities. This project aims to bridge the gap and provide integral services for stray animals and local communities through mass spay and neuter clinics and community education in three strategic areas: Ciudad Equidad, a neighborhood in Santa Marta constructed to provide housing for low-income populations from the Department of Magdalena, Taganga, a small beach village near Santa Marta and in Minca and surrounding veredas in the foothills of la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta .
Awareness of animal welfare issues in coastal regions of Colombia is generally, very low. This means that even residents with pets often do not vaccinate, deworm or sterilize their pets. Stray animals living on the streets are often sick, malnourished and pose a significant threat to public health and safety as they can carry and transmit diseases to humans. Furthermore, animals that are not properly cared for, both pets and stray animals alike, can often be a source of conflict between community members, causing noise, hygiene and safety issues in public spaces.
Uncontrolled cat and dog populations also pose a risk to regional biodiversity—an especially significant problem in the Sierra Nevada, which is a UNESCO Man and the Biosphere site and the habitat of several endangered and threatened species. Uncontrolled animal populations drastically impact ecosystem dynamics through hunting native– and often endangered species, marking territories and introducing bacteria and diseases to which local ecosystems have no resistance. The aforementioned problems undermine efforts to grow the local tourism industry, which is increasingly important for poverty reduction and further economic development in the region.
What is E2E doing about it?
To tackle the aforementioned problems, E2E works with our local partner, Misión Gaia, to conduct mass sterilization clinics, provide animal welfare services and increase community participation and project sustainability through education campaigns. Sterilization clinics, held throughout the populated areas around Minca, Taganga and Ciudad Equidad, offer veterinary assistance, deworming, vaccinations, and spay and neuter services for pets and stray animals alike.
Although Colombian law requires regional governments to invest in managing local stray animal populations, limited investment and lack of action have resulted in a rapid increase in these animal populations and the associated risks within in the project area. The lack of action by the government means that non-governmental organizations are vital to creating meaningful improvements. Since 2011, Misión Gaia has organized 10 sessions of sterilization and castration, in which 354 dogs and cats have been sterilized and 600 have received deworming treatment.
E2E and Misión Gaia
By supporting Misión Gaia’s activities through the provision of technical and financial support on a larger scale, the project goal is to sterilize, vaccinate and de-worm 70% of the local animal population through mobile spay/neuter clinics, which will instantly reduce animal suffering, the spread of zoonotic diseases, public safety issues and the threat to biodiversity in important protected regions in Santa Marta and the Sierra Nevada. The proposed project is an initial 3-year investment, during which time we expect to see a significant social return on investment for local communities, populations of stray animals, surrounding biodiversity and the growing tourism industry.