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Women lead the Way in Animal Welfare in South America

The Latin American reality is that there is a lack of responsible ownership of companion animals - due to deficient education about dogs and cats - which results in a repetition of mistakes that continue through generations. Dogs and cats are part of the Latin American landscape. Any typical painting or picture has a street dog in it. Our tolerance for loose and unattended animals wandering streets is high, and many people do not even notice.

Fortunately during the past 10 years, many factors have come together to change the attitude of our citizenswomen vets in Costa Rica towards our four legged friends. Animal organizations, the media, governments, and mostly forward-thinking women, have made progress in changing cultural attitudes and habits by distributing educational material in communities; stressing the importance responsible ownership, benefits of spay and neuter, de-worming medications, vaccinations, importance of diet, using a leash to take a walk, et cetera.

women take the lead in animal welfareAnd, it is evident that in Latin American countries, women are the ones who have taken the leadership role in this cultural awakening. After 10 years of experiencing the change toward companion animals in Costa Rica, more than 80% of the activists are women. Young women are studying veterinary medicine, older women are helping stray animals in their communities, and groups of volunteer women organize funds and spay/neuter campaigns in their neighborhoods. The female perspective, combined with an ongoing desire to improve the lives of dogs and cats, is being translated into better-educated owners, children and communities.

Women in Latin America have been the impetus for attitude and behavioral change towards dogs and cats, and in this process, they have enriched their lives, and continue to set an example for their communities and for their country.

Carla Ferraro is the executive director for the McKee project in Costa Rica. One of the most visible programs for this non -profit has been the Cat Café project. The Cat Café works with resort and hotel owners to set up designated care and feeding stations for stray cats and helps deal with the problem common to Latin American countries of stray animals wandering into the open air dining rooms and bothering guests. Having the cats gather in a particular spot also enables them to be safely caught, spayed or neutered and returned to their familiar surroundings.
Spay and neuter programs are the core of the McKee Project and in Costa Rica have put great effort into training volunteer vets in inexpensive sterilization techniques. Cat Café and other McKee projects rely on donations. To help, go to
www.McKeeproject .org or contact Carla at carlaf@McKeeproject.org

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