Animal ‘Spayathon’ cancelled after 6 rounds


By John McPhaul

jpmcphaul@gmail.com


The San Francisco de Asís Animal Sanctuary Inc. (SASFAPR by its Spanish acronym) expressed regret on Monday at the cancellation of the next rounds of the “Spayathon for Puerto Rico,” a free mass spaying and neutering initiative that through six rounds has impacted almost 60,000 animals on the island.


“The initiative was a balm for rescuers and animal welfare organizations after the terrible Hurricane Maria, and was a helping hand for pet guardians who yearned for quality services for their pets but did not have the money to pay for them,” said Stella Ramírez, vice president of SASFAPR. “… [W]e are immensely grateful for the #Spayathon4PR and we do not lose hope that similar initiatives will emerge to continue controlling the problem of overpopulation of homeless animals in Puerto Rico.”


The cancellation of the initiative, which had been led by the The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), was announced on the entity’s Facebook page, where it was explained that, although they did not complete the final rounds due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they had determined not to reschedule the pre-established completion dates.


“Spayathon was designed as a series of temporary clinics: just one week, three times a year, where in addition to being operated on, the animals were vaccinated against rabies. According to data from HSUS, 65% of the animals treated in the six rounds of the Spayathon had never visited a veterinarian; 71% of dogs and cats five months and older had never been vaccinated against rabies; and the birth of 343,124 animals was prevented (during the first year after surgery),” Ramírez said. “How will we work now to serve this public that also wants the best for their pets, but does not have access to services?”


In five of the six rounds, Cabo Rojo-based SASFAPR was one of the organizations that led clinics around the island -- in San Germán, San Sebastián, Cayey, Guayama and Mayagüez, in which almost 5,000 animals were sterilized for free.


“In these five clinics we worked with veterinarians from Cornell University in New York, who donated their time and talent to help us control the overpopulation of homeless animals in Puerto Rico and provide veterinary care to pets whose guardians lacked the resources to pay for the service in a local clinic,” Ramírez said.


The problem of overpopulation of homeless animals, the abandonment of pets and the mistreatment of animals has increased dramatically in Puerto Rico after the passage of Hurricane Maria, to the point that animal welfare organizations do not have enough resources to meet the requests for help they receive on a daily basis.


“Initiatives such as the ‘Spayathon for Puerto Rico’ are still necessary to prevent our streets from continuing to be full of homeless animals at the mercy of mistreatment, inclement weather, and hunger, heat and cold,” Ramírez said. “Humans can be better, and if we come together, we can make a difference.”


SASFAPR can be contacted in the following ways: Twitter (@SASFAPR), Fanpage on Facebook (San Francisco de Asís Animal Sanctuary, Inc./@Sasfapr), Instagram (santuario.sasfapr), or at its website (www.sasfapr.org). Also by sending an email to info@sasfapr.org, or by sending a text message to 787-612-8587.