A Fence for Pepa and Jan
Pepa and Jan were living on fairly short chains in an area of the backyard filled with rocks. Dr. Paco spoke to their owner before I arrived and convinced him to spay Pepa, a condition of receiving a free or low-cost fence. Jan had already been spayed. Dr. Paco, our helper Andreas and I bought the supplies, dug the holes, set the posts and poured the concrete all in one long day. Both dogs were mildly aggressive toward us while we worked in the yard for the first couple of hours. Tethered dogs typically experience frustration, depression and chaining usually increases aggressive behavior. By the end of the first day, we were able to interact with both dogs and they were eager to let us pet them. We talked to the owner about the dangers associated with keeping dogs tethered. The next day we attached the chain link, cleaned up the yard and finally unchained Pepa and Jan.
It was wonderful to witness Pepa and Jan’s first experience freefrom their tethers. Similar to other dogs we have built fences for, at first, both cautiously walked beyond the area their former chains confined them to. Once they realized they weren’t held back, both excitedly ran around sniffing and exploring every corner of the yard. We talked to the owner about the importance of providing exercise and stimulation for the dogs and encouraged him to walk them on leashes regularly. We will follow-up with him but even if Pepa and Jan don’t receive walks as they should, they will nonetheless be happier with their new ability to run around the whole yard and play together.
Update on Corbada
Corbada is the sweet dog who we built a fence for last summer. Danielle stopped by to visit him and we are happy to report he’s happy and healthy, enjoying life off of his chain. He remembered Danielle and came over to the fence to say hello. The sign that was previously posted on a tree warning people he is a vicious dog was appropriately lying on the ground.
Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz and Floreana Island
While Danielle was in Galapagos she took a couple trips out of Puerto Ayora to check out the situation for dogs and cats outside the “city.” Santa Rosa is a small town in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, a 20-minute drive into the hills from the beach town of Puerto Ayora. The situation for animals in Santa Rosa seems more critical than in Puerto Ayora. Although there are fewer people and thus, fewer animals, we saw many chained dogs, even more wandering dogs and a lot of very young puppies. Many of the dogs in the highlands are owned by hunters who will not sterilize their dogs (either because they think the dog will no longer want to hunt or they are planning on breeding the dog), chain or kennel the dogs any time they are not hunting and withhold food on the assumption that it will cause the dog to hunt more enthusiastically. Also, dogs are often gored and sustain serious injuries while hunting feral pigs.
GPS is now determining the best plan of action to address the animal welfare and wildlife protection issues in the highland towns of Santa Rosa and neighboring highland town of Bellavista.
Danielle also visited Floreana Island with Dr. Paco of Darwin Animal Doctors. The head of local government on the island previously told Dr. Paco that he would like veterinary assistance on the island so we went to meet with local officials and assess the situation. Floreana is the least populated island with between 100 -170 permanent residents. It has very few tourists and very little development.
We only saw a handful of mixed breed dogs roaming the dirt roads, but like in Santa Rosa there are may more dogs in the highlands that are used for hunting. We spoke with the second in command of the town government, the head of the farmers’ association and school and all were enthusiastic about more veterinary assistance on the island. Although we may have to begin with de-worming and offering vitamins, we will be able to educate people about the importance of sterilization at the same time.
Purebred Puppies for Sale
An ongoing concern is the prevalence of purebred puppies and dogs on all of the inhabited islands. While transporting dogs from the mainland or between the islands is illegal, breeding and selling puppies and kittens is not. Although we saw Huskies, Chow-Chows, terriers, pit bull mixes, shepherds, the most common purebred dog on Santa Cruz appeared to be the Cocker Spaniel. Although the sign pictured above is offering Husky puppies for sale, when we called to inquire about the price, the woman told us she also had Cocker puppies for sale for $100.00 each.
The legality of breeding for sale is an issue that GPS has raised with CIMEI and is continuing to look into. While we may not be able to mandate sterilization, we should certainly be able to make it illegal for people to commercially sell puppies and kittens while there are so many in need of homes and preying on wildlife.
Dogs Ingesting Rat Poison
Another animal welfare concern is dogs and cats ingesting rat poison. While we were in Puerto Ayoro, five people called or brought dogs to the clinic who were suffering of poisoning. Dr. Paco treated them and all are expected to recover, however, the dog pictured here died right before our eyes. The owner lived directly across the street form the animal clinic and said his dog had been sick for over a week. He had nothing to say when we asked him why he did not notify Dr. Paco sooner. He simply put her body in a black garbage bag and placed it on the trash pile in front of the house.
The use of rat poison is a complex problem in Galapagos. There are many cases of dogs being accidentally poisoned and probably many more cases of pets, birds and even children being poisoned although we simply don’t know about them. However, many people’s alternative or supplemental rat control measure is keeping a cat. Although it seems more ecological on many levels, we know that cats’ prey behavior is decoupled from hunger, so even if the cats are being fed cat food, and/or a steady diet of rats, it is likely that they are continuing to kill wild lizards and birds.
A potential solution that we are researching is a rat sterilization pill that is thought to be more effective than poison and non-toxic to humans, animals and the environment. Although the product will have to go through a lengthy process to determine whether it is appropriate for use in Galapagos, we are hopeful that the company that produces the rat sterilization pill will follow-up and it will become a non-toxic solution for the Galapagos introduced rat problem.
Cockfighting and Bullfighting
We are sad to report that even in the Galapagos Islands, the blood sports of cock and bullfighting are being practiced openly. The ring (pictured to the left) is just on the edge of Puerto Ayora and holds cockfights every Sunday. The bullfighting arena is in the highlands just off the main road. On the mainland of Ecuador, PAE is working to ban bullfighting and it’s more likely than ever under the current President. We have reached out to them to discuss starting a campaign against blood sports in the Galapagos.
The Use of Compound 1080 by the National Park
Its no secret that the Galapagos National Park uses Compound 1080 to kill introduced cats in the National Park, however a few weeks before our campaign began a story came out suggesting that the Park was embarking on a campaign to aerially drop Compound 1080 to eradicate introduced rats. GPS opposes the use of Compound 1080 in any form and we made an appointment with Victor Carrion, second in command at the National Park to ask about the aerial campaign specifically and go on record with our concerns. Although we are pleased to report that according to Mr. Carrion, the Park is not aerially dropping Compound 1080 we are worried about the poison they are using as well as their continued use of Compound 1080 to eradicate cats in the National Park.
Compound 1080 is a water-soluble, odorless, colorless, and tasteless poison that has no antidote. One teaspoon can reportedly kill up to 100 human adults. Absorbed through the stomach and intestines, open wounds or breaks in the skin, Compound 1080 causes the breakdown of essential cellular processes resulting in cell death and gross organ failure. Death may result from cardiac failure, progressive failure of the central nervous system, or respiratory arrest following severe prolonged convulsions.
It is obvious from victims’ positions and conditions, including vomited lungs, distended veins, and evacuated bowels and bladders, that animals poisoned by Compound 1080 die a horrible, agonizingly painful death.
Secondary poisoning from the practice of using Compound 1080 to eradicate cats can also be catastrophic. Many carrion-eating species can die from the indiscriminate poisoning campaign. People and pet dogs and cats are also at risk of poisoning by Compound 1080 when they stumble upon it. Veterinarians and technicians working on sterilization campaigns on the islands have reported attempting to treat dogs, cats and wildlife who are suffering from the same symptoms as caused by ingestion of Compound 1080. Of course, there is no treatment for 1080 poisoning and the only humane option is a lethal injection.
It has also been reported to us that Park employees are not collecting the carcasses of cats poisoned by Compound 1080, increasing the risk of secondary poisoning and environmental contamination.
GPS along with Darwin Animal Doctors is continuing to work on the issue of Compound 1080. Our first step is making the community aware of what is happening in their own backyard.
Working with Airlines, Local Officials, and Other NGO’s
Meeting with Continental and American Airlines
Danielle spent more time in Quito than we have on previous trips and during that time she met with American and Continental Airlines as well as cargo shipping agents. Flying dogs and cats out of the Galapagos Island to the mainland of Ecuador is relatively inexpensive, however, flying them from Ecuador to the United States is very expensive. Depending on the weight of the animal, the price is around $250, however, that doesn’t include the cost of the kennel, which is often also around $200.00
Continental is working out the details of their merger with United and are not able to give us a discount at this time. American Airlines generously agreed to give us a price break on flying animals out of Quito. We also worked out a discount with two cargo agents, who are required for shipping animals.
Because the cost of kennels continues to be prohibitively expensive, Danielle is contacting veterinarians and pet supply stores in Quito to borrow kennels or work out a deal on purchasing them.
Meeting with Local Officials
Danielle had a productive meeting with the Director of CIMEI (Committee to Manage Introduced Species) on Santa Cruz, Rommel Saa. We discussed working together in the near future on public outreach projects and GPS is looking forward to receiving a proposal from Mr. Saa on the project. We were thankful to Mr. Saa to receive CIMEI’s permission to transport Wolfie off Santa Cruz to Quito. (Read more about Wolfie below).
Danielle also met with the Minister of Culture, Maria Eugenia Proano several times. Maria is a founding member of CIMEI as well as the animal welfare organization in Quito, which preceded PAE (Animal Protection of Ecuador). Maria is an animal-lover who feeds hungry dogs on her way to and from work everyday. Maria and Danielle began planning future projects including a print public outreach campaign encouraging people to look after their pets better, as well as a radio and or television show to teach people about pets and wildlife.
Collaborating with Nova Galapagos
NovaGalapagos Foundation, is a non-profit organization formed by Rene Heyer to encourage and support the children of Galapagos to adopt a life-long appreciation and interest in the protection of their natural heritage. Danielle met with Rene several times to discuss a collaboration between GPS and NovaGalapagos. She was also thankful to use Rene’s reliable internet connection almost every day. Although it is not finalized, Rene and Danielle excitedly discussed the idea of recruiting a corps of children to spread the word about animal welfare to their peers, who could then teach their own parents. Through his summer and after school program, his students could learn about animal welfare issues (among the other things they are learning) and in turn talk to their friends and neighbors about the issues. The project is just getting started but GPS is thrilled about NovaGalapagos’s mission and our humane education collaboration.
Darwin Animal Doctors
Similar to our last campaign in Galapagos, most of GPS’s work would be very difficult without the help of Dr. Zambrano, a veterinarian for Darwin Animal Doctors (DAD). DAD is securing full-time veterinarians for each of the inhabited islands. During the two weeks we were together, Paco worked tirelessly on his own veterinarian and outreach work for DAD and still found time to assist GPS. Words cannot express how thankful we are to Paco and to DAD for allowing Paco to assist us in our campaign.
While GPS was on Santa Cruz Danielle assisted Dr. Paco on a few examinations and also bought supplies and began building a new much-needed multi-level cat kennel for the clinic. Photos coming soon!
GPS supporter and long-time Galapagos resident, Sarah Darling found Trudy (or Wolfie, as we fondly call her) tied to some tall weeds near the entrance of a new subdivision that is being built on the edge of Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galapagos while taking her dog Neptune on his morning walk. She came back to the house and together we went back, untied Trudy and walked her to the Darwin Animal Doctors clinic. We don’t know how long she was tied in the empty lot but she was underweight, suffering from a severe case of mange and a bloody wound on her hindquarters. Dr. Paco began treating her and she came back to Sarah’s house to recover. Danielle brought her back to the mainland with her and she is now in her final stages of recovery with Dr. Diego Barrera of PAE in Ambato, Ecuador. Her mange has been treated and her fur is growing back. The wound on her back has closed and is healing. She will be flying to Los Angeles in the next couple weeks and be available for adoption.
GPS would like to thank Ann Formelle for her help in setting up meetings in Quito. We would also like to thank Sarah Darling who always offers her home to us in Puerto Ayora. GPS would also like to specially thank Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Mike Galesi. Without their generous support we could not do any of the work we are in Galapagos.
If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to Galapagos Preservation Society, you can do so securely by clicking here or by sending a check to:
P.O. Box 3241
Friday Harbor, WA 98250