February 20, 2012

Reality Check: Not All Rescues Are Precious Pups

A sad, yet still common site on the streets of Iquitos

Recently we have posted many photos of abandoned puppies and kittens.  These cute and helpless creatures tug at our heart strings.  Today I write to remind our supporters that Amazon CARES is SO MUCH MORE than a rescue center, no-kill shelter, and adoption center.  If our sole focus was to rescue street dogs and cats in need, we would barely be making a dent in the actual problem facing Iquitos.  That is the issue of overpopulation, ill animals roaming the streets, and a lack of positive action on the part of the government to remedy the situation.

Prior to the advent of Amazon CARES, street animals were routinely shot, poisoned or drowned in mass culling of the population.   A portion of our Mission Statement reads  
"This is the reason that Amazon Community Animal Rescue, Education and Safety (CARES) was founded in 2004.  Citizens with a desire to protect countless stray animals stepped in to create programs that the government did not provide."
What makes us different from similar charities?  We are based in the community.  While I, the Director, travel back and forth, our employees are primarily Peruvian.  We work with existing facilities and available resources.  We have a large geographic focus, the Peruvian Amazon. We work with local municipalities, offering solutions, and if they accept, we set up mobile spay/neuter clinics in the poorest neighborhoods.  But that would not be enough.  Learn more about our Spay-Neuter-Release programs.

How do we create a sustainable solution for animals? We return to these same neighborhoods and jungle towns again and again.  This way we can ensure that this area will not have animals continuing to procreate, thus repeating the cycle of animal overpopulation, abandonment, and abuse.  It does no good for a group to "drop-in" to a community and perform surgeries for 1-2 weeks if there are no plans to continue working in that region.

How can we possibly serve the entire region?  This is a legitimate question, and the truth is there are areas we have not yet served, or that we have not been able to serve repeatedly.  However, since our advent in 2004, we have made great strides, and people readily attest to the noticeable difference CARES has made.  There are areas within 8 hours of Iquitos where we have devoted our maximum attention.  We have also managed to travel as far as two border towns to assist with veterinary care, and we continue to expand our jungle outreach.

What about the trips outside of Iquitos, to the jungle?  We are very proud that we can visit jungle communities once every year of once every two years.  Jungle communities do have an issue with sick and abandoned animals, but it is not as bad as in the city of Iquitos.  The real problem in the jungle is the lack of access to veterinary care.  These communities are less populated, and often we can do a great clinic in 1-2 days before moving on to other areas.

How else can we reduce animal over-population and deal with animal health issues?
Humane Education is a very strong component of our work.  In the jungle towns and in local schools in Iquitos, our Peruvian Director, Bruno Antoine works tirelessly to teach children of all ages about the importance of animal and human relationships, community health, and more.  Check out the video below!

We contribute to community health as well. During all of our clinics we distribute anti-parasite medicines to humans.  To date we have treated over 25,000 humans for parasites.

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