Our trips are always too short. What we need to do is plant ourselves in Galapagos for a good 3 months at a time. We could then make some real progress. When funding comes through we will do just that
We just returned from a whirlwind week on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos, Ecuador. As always, we did a lot of work but we also managed to have a little fun as well. We build a fence for a chained dog, dropped off donated supplies to Darwin Animal Doctors, rescued a kitten for rehoming and built the first ever bat house in Galapagos! Here is a preview below and this week I’ll go into more details about each project.
Three of us are headed to Santa Cruz Island in late April for our spring 2013 campaign. We have been in the process of some changes at home and are thrilled to be on our way back to the Islands. We will spend about a week there, building fences for chained and stray dogs, looking for candidates for a cattery, as well as catching some feral cats for re-homing.
We are extremely grateful to the Red Mangrove Inn for providing us with a free room while we are on Santa Cruz for the duration of our trip. Its very generous and will help us greatly in keeping costs down. The Red Mangrove is involved in many efforts to improve community on the Islands, including veterinary assistance to horses. Read more about their efforts here. We are honored that they have chosen to help more animals of Galapagos by helping GPS.
by Jennifer Viegas
A species of giant tortoise believed extinct for 150 years was actually just moved from its original home and now lives on the volcanic slopes of the northern shore of Isabela Island in the Galapagos archipelago.
A genetic analysis, published in the latest Current Biology, found that DNA footprints of the long lost tortoise species, Chelonoidis elephantopus, exist in the genomes of its hybrid offspring. These tortoises turn out to be a mix of C. elephantopus and another giant tortoise from the area, C. becki.
While researchers have yet to isolate a purebred C. elephantopus individual, such tortoises must exist, based on the DNA data. The study marks the first time that a species has been rediscovered by way of tracking the genetic footprints left in the genomes of its hybrid offspring.
This year has been a busy and productive one for GPS. In the spring, I led a successful two-week campaign in Galapagos where I advanced our mission of protecting wildlife and preserving island ecosystems while promoting animal welfare.
I traveled to Santa Cruz Island where a small team of volunteers and I constructed a fence for two sweet, large-breed dogs, Pepa and Jan. After we finished the fence, we released Pepa and Jan from their tethers. It was touching to see the dogs slowly explore the entire yard and realize they could run from one end to the other. The remainder of our materials went to reinforcing fences for a few other dogs in Santa Cruz, so they too could be freed from chains but confined to a yard where they are protected from cars and wildlife is protected from them.
I also conducted several meetings, both on the islands and the mainland of Ecuador. I am pleased to report that GPS has developed a relationship with the Galapagos Minister of Culture, Maria Eugenia Proano. Maria Eugenia Proano is one of the founding members of CIMEI (Inter-institutional Committee for Management and Control Introduced Species). She cares a great deal about the future of the islands and is working with us to produce humane education and conservation outreach materials for children and adults on Santa Cruz Island.
I established a relationship with Metropolitan Touring, the largest tour-operator in Galapagos to educate their employees on the impacts dogs and cats have on the indigenous wildlife and struck a deal with American Airlines for discount pricing to fly GPS animals from Ecuador back to the United States.
Finally, while on Santa Cruz, friend and supporter of GPS, Sarah Darling found a dog tied to some weeds at the edge of town. It was obvious the dog was suffering from malnutrition, a severe case of mange and a large bloody wound on her back. Sarah and I untied her and brought her to a clinic to be treated. The little dog flew with me to the mainland where GPS board member Dr. Diego Barrera cared for her until she was healthy enough to fly to the United States. Founder of GPS, Allison Lance picked her up and Ruby stayed with Allison until she was adopted. Ruby now lives happily in Vancouver, Canada.
GPS also had our first long-term volunteer on the islands this past summer. Karstan Lovorn, a lawyer, carpenter and long-time activist arrived in July for his three-month position on Santa Cruz Island. Karstan worked with Maria Eugenia on humane education materials and scripts for public service announcements to be aired on the local television station about the importance of spay and neuter. He also assisted our sister organization Darwin Animal Doctors with clinic duties, including helping them move to a new clinic space and hand building five-sets of bunk beds for volunteers to sleep on. Finally, Karstan managed a high-volume spay and neuter campaign that served both Santa Cruz and San Cristobal Islands.
We were only able to do this work through your generosity and support.
Although we are making progress in the Galapagos, we still have numerous concerns. Native wildlife continues to be under assault by invasive animals. It remains legal for people to breed and sell dogs and cats on the islands. While I was there, I saw many signs advertising purebred puppies for sale. Sterilization of dogs and cats is not mandatory or even encouraged. With your help we can outlaw commercial dog breeding and mandate sterilization of pets.
GPS is starting the year out strong. We are heading back to the Galapagos in January with a small team of veterinarians to conduct a sterilization campaign on Santa Cruz Island. I will also build fences for chained and free-roaming dogs and conduct humane outreach in the local community.
We are actively searching for long-term veterinarian volunteers who will focus solely on much-needed dog and cat sterilization. We are also reaching out to veterinary clinics around the country to secure volunteers for short high-volume spay/neuter campaigns and medical supply donations. Finally, we are developing relationships with volunteers in Galapagos to find a way to stop smuggling and breeding of purebred dogs.
The Galapagos Islands, one of the most diverse and intact ecosystems in the world remains in peril. We depend on your support to continue to do our on-the-ground work in the islands. Without your help we simply won’t have the resources we need to sterilize the thousands of cats and dogs on the island and prevent them from overtaking the native ecosystem, build fences for chained and free-roaming dogs and educate the public on the importance and fragility of the Galapagos Islands, the place that they call home.
Thank you for your support of GPS’s vital work in the Galapagos last year and your continued support in 2012. To make a tax-deductible year-end gift to GPS, you can do so securely here.
- Galapagos Preservation Society
Do you work at a veterinary clinic? Do you know anyone who does? (Your pet’s vet counts!)
If so, you can help us round up the supplies we need for upcoming campaigns in Galapagos!
As you know, Galapagos Preservation Society protects wildlife, preserves ecosystems and promotes animal welfare in the Galapagos Islands.
Many people are unaware that the Galapagos has a human population of about 40,000.
Those people have brought cats, dogs and farm animals with them. The cats and dogs prey on and terrorize the indigenous wildlife who have evolved without any natural predators. Goats and cows compete with tortoises for food and space. In addition to preying on wildlife, dogs and cats spread diseases that can affect human health as well as
the health of endemic wildlife.
Many of the dogs and cats on Galapagos are not spayed or neutered. This is due to a lack of veterinarians on the islands, lack of education on the importance of sterilization and cultural attitudes toward sterilization, although they are changing.
GPS offers free sterilization for cats and dogs, free fences for dogs who are chained or left to roam free and conducts humane education and public outreach to teach kids and adults about the importance of sterilization for pets, wildlife and the ecosystem.
GPS works with another organization who runs a small clinic on Santa Cruz Island. We will be going to Santa Cruz in January with a small group of vets to do a spay/neuter campaign. In addition to that campaign, we are gearing up to have a couple more veterinarian volunteers on the islands. To successfully sterilize as many animals as possible, we are looking for donated veterinary supplies to bring with us to the islands. While it is possible to buy supplies on the mainland of Ecuador, it is prohibitively expensive to do so. We would like to bring as many donated supplies as possible, however, even if we have to purchase supplies in the U.S., it will be less expensive that doing so in Ecuador.
I have included a wishlist of supplies below. GPS is a registered non-profit (26-3586158) and all donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. We will happily provide you with the necessary paperwork for your records. If you would like to introduce us to your veterinarian or clinic manager and have GPS contact them directly, or have any questions, please email Danielle at email@example.com
Suture Material * (2-0, 3-0, internal and external)
Disinfectant Spray Bottles
* MOST NEEDED DONATION!
Hey GPS Fans! Karstan here again! We’ve been super busy the past several days! And, as one might expect, there have been tons of ups and downs. A good example of the highs and lows is the 3-day old kittens we rescued nearly two weeks ago. They were found on the side of the road a few blocks from where I am staying. There were three little kittens in a cardboard box in some weeds.
Dr. Jose suggested we leave them for a day to see if their mom came back for them. We checked the next day, but it was obvious the mother hadn’t returned We took them back to the clinic and I began to feed them formula They all seemed to revive rather quickly and I took them home.
The first week with them was both exhausting and rewarding. I had to feed them every 3-4 hours (including the middle of the night!) and bathe them with a cloth to get them to pee and poop. One of them was adopted right away by Dr. Paco’s sister-in-law and neighbor Dr. Paco has been checking in on her several times a day and she’s been doing a fantastic job! It was crazy to see the remaining two grow a little everyday. It was funny, because they seemed to grow one or two things at a time. For example, first the limbs on one would grow, while the head would grow on the other. The next day, the long-limbed one would put on some weight (but still have a small head!) and the bigger-headed one would grow his limbs some. It was hilarious!
Unfortunately, everything wasn’t always so great. This past Sunday, the smaller of the two kittens was refusing to eat had no energy. I had Dr. Jose examine her and he tried a few things (an injection of Dipirone and some manual manipulation of her abdomen) but he wasn’t very hopeful. She rallied briefly for about an hour, but she didn’t make it. It was very sad and I’m still bummed about it. I know we can’t save every animal, but it doesn’t make it easier.
I don’t want to leave you on a sad note. The remaining kitten is doing well. He’s lively and growing and last night I noticed his eyes were starting to open! Further I mentioned in my last post that there are some promising signs here on the islands. An example was the poor puppy that was found on the side of the road by a local farmer. The puppy was doing very poorly with severe bloody diarrhea and the vets only gave him a 50% chance of survival. The farmer sat next to the puppy on the examining table for hours as the vets gave him fluid. He didn’t leave the puppy’s side. And wouldn’t you know it? The puppy made it and we expect to see him again soon for sterilization!
Ed. note: While nothing is cuter than kittens and we are very happy that Karstan and the Darwin Animal Doctors could save two of them, we remain concerned with the sheer number of new kittens and puppies volunteers and supporters are seeing everyday on all the inhabited Galapagos Islands. Although they may be loosely owned, these animals are largely left to fend for themselves. They roam the streets, beaches and National Park areas. They sleep outside, are fed table scraps if they are lucky, suffer from exposure, disease and accidents with cars. They are usually not sterilized and the cycle continues. To try to break this cycle, we are working to provide free sterilization and moving cats off the islands. GPS envisions a Galapagos Islands with no free-roaming cats. Karstan is now working on fliers and brochures to take door-to-door and get as many animals into the clinic for sterilization as he can while he is there. Thanks for all your hard work, Karstan!
Hola, amigos! It is I, Karstan, your intrepid volunteer here in the Galapagos. As some of you know, I’m based in Porta Ayora, the largest town in Galapagos, on the island of Santa Cruz. I’ve spent the past couple of weeks getting oriented and learning as much as possible about the situation here so I can be most effective. I’ve also been volunteering in the Darwin Animal Doctors vet clinic.
I thought I’d give you a picture of what’s going on here. The situation is pretty urgent. I see puppies and kittens everywhere, many just wandering the streets with little or no supervision or care. As you probably already know if you’re familiar with us, it is illegal to import dogs and cats to the islands.
Which means that the only dogs and cats bred here would be one of the original breeds brought here or a mutt. However, there is a thriving black market for importing puppies and kittens from the mainland. Many locals can make quite a lot of money from breeding their purebreed cats and dogs, so spaying and neutering is not popular.
Further many dogs are used as hunting or guard dogs and neutering is thought to make them less aggressive or effective. But the situation isn’t without hope. There are signs that things may be changing. Many locals have begun leashing and collaring their dogs. Cats and dogs both are being brought to the DAD clinic for sterilization. People come in and ask about proper care.
Every time the DAD vets save a dog or cat’s life from illness or injury, our message becomes a little more accepted by the local populace. It’s exciting to see a young couple bringing their puppy back to the clinic a month after Dr. Paco saved it from rat poison and ask about proper care and express interest in sterilization.
Karstan Lovorn is volunteering for GPS and DAD for three months in the Galapagos Islands. He studied Political Science and History at York College of Pennsylvania. At York, he developed his interest in animal rights and the environmental movement and worked with many different grassroots organizations. In 2000, he was awarded a Dean’s Scholarship to Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon where he studied Animal Law and further continued his activism. He graduated from Lewis in Clark in 2003 with a Juris Doctorate and was inducted into the Cornelius Honor Society. After law school, Karstan became very active in the National Lawyers Guild, a civil rights organization and started his own law practice specializing in criminal defense. Karstan is now exploring other interests including sailing and engineering while continuing his activism.
We are ecstatic to report that Wolfie’s long journey has finally come to an end at her new home in Canada. Galapagos Preservation Society (GPS) supporter found her hungry, sick and injured, tied to weeds in an empty lot on Santa Cruz Island. Volunteers untied her and cared for her with the help of Darwin Animal Doctors (DAD) and Ecuador Animal Protection (PAE) and a GPS advisory board member in Quito. She made the long trip from Ecuador to Seattle where GPS President and founder fostered her. We had many inquiries about her and she made the final journey to Canada where she has found a happy new family and a brand new name, Ruby.
“Hi, my name is Ruby! My old name was “Wolfie”, but my mom thought I was a real gem so I got a new name. I was a “gem in the rough” for a while, but now that I am in my “forever home” I am shining and happy to be alive! I was rescued by some amazing people who know that no life is disposable and I was given a second chance.
I am well traveled already but now I call North Vancouver home. I have seen so many beautiful and interesting things, smelled pine trees for the first time and even got to play in some snow in Whistler. That was fun and I can’t wait to do it again! I go on hikes, and get to snooze on a cosy bed afterwards. I sure can tell that my new mom Erica really loves me, she spoils me with the best food, lots of exercise, tasty treats and I even got a ruby red raincoat for the Vancouver rain! But most importantly she shows me how to love and I know that I will be cared for forever, no matter what. That feels really good. WOOF WOOF! I love her back lots and give her lots of kisses and like to snuggle with her. I trust her and know she will never hurt me.
I am so smart and mommy is so proud of me. I learned my new name, how to shake a paw, give a high five and sit still without wiggling in my first 3 days! Now I know that all the dogs here want to be friends with me. Everywhere I go everyone wants to meet me and give me a sniff! I have lots of friends! I wanted you to know that I looked pretty shabby when I was found, but I’ve turned into what mommy calls “the BEST dog in the world!”
Thank you so much Galapagos Preservation Society for not leaving me to starve to death. I hope you can help my other friends on the Island, they need good homes too! Everyone can tell I’m “special” because I look a little different from the ‘locals’ so mommy gets lots of questions. Every life is special and I hope that my story will inspire someone else to rescue an animal. Life is good now. Thank you GPS!
Wolfie, or Trudy departed Ecuador this morning and is on her way to Seattle. Here is what advisory board member Maria Navarro had to say about picking her up in Ambato and delivering her to the airport in Quito:
Everything went just fine. I picked up Wolfie at 3 p.m. There was this woman who knew I was coming and she helped me with Wolfie. She handed me the certificates and the big kennel. We had a little trouble trying to fit it inside the car, its huge! So I took Wolfie and headed back to Quito. She is a sweet girl! She is very good in the car and not agrressive at all with other dogs. When we arrived in Quito and in my house, she was very happy and smelling everything all around. She loves to play but I can see she is a little scared when you want to pet her in the head or neck…She is really scared about wearing a collar! I put her my dog´s collar and man…it took quite some time and effort to get her to use it. Once she had it on, she was totally fine. One recommendation would be to not try take her collar off until she associates wearing it with something good (like taking her out for a walk).
She is also very good at walking! Very well behaved…a little runaway sometimes! Its like she doesnt know she belongs to a place now..like I suppose happens with many strayed or abandoned dogs. But she follows very well and she loves walking. This morning my mom walked her. They went out to the park and walked at least for an hour!
She also likes to eat toilet paper so we will need to stop her from that bad habit. And she also needs to be trained to not eat from tables or countertops! She ate a few things from the kitchen, poor baby, she is probably still afraid of not having enough food.
I know Wolfie will be taken out in Houston for a walk. They have a specific area and personnel which is only for pets! Pets there will drink and eat. I gave them a small package of food and a bottle of water.
You will see that Wolfie is a beautiful dog! Her fur is so pretty and soft and shiny. She is very loving! She loves to give kisses and play and jump. She will be an excellent companion for a family with kids and other dogs! It is hard to believe a loving dog like Wolfie was once abused and neglected. I’m so happy for her to find soon a loving home.