It was like a M*A*S*H unit for dogs and cats. One by one: Little Dog. Cat. Big dog. Cat. Bigger dog. Littler cat.
Weighed. Marked and numbered. Anesthetized. Shaved. Snipped. De-ticked. Recover.
Next furry patient, please.
It was a routine that happened more than 50 times at a veterinary clinic in Paraiso, Guanacaste on May 12, 2019. The community clinic was organized by the Costa Rican pet charity, Hope 4 A Street Dog.
It was a clinic designed to spay and neuter as many dogs and cats as possible in the area. And from all accounts, they are putting their best paw forward. For the past 15 years, these clinics have performed thousands of castration surgeries, and have helped minimize the number of unwanted and abandoned pets.
Part of our mission at Drift Away Eco-Lodge – besides contributing to and promoting more sustainable and eco-friendly travel in Costa Rica — is to be active in the community and to try and make a positive impact. And as animal lovers, we felt this was a perfect opportunity to roll up our sleeves and donate our time taking care of local animals.
Our job was recovery care for the dogs and cats who had just been under the knife. We checked their sutures and combed them for ticks and fleas. We gave their claws a trim and cleaned their ears – all much easier to do when the animals are still sedated! We worked from 8 a.m. until noon when the afternoon shift relieved us. It was a busy and satisfying way to spend a Sunday morning and we hope more volunteers will help in the future.
Without donations of time, money and supplies these clinics wouldn’t be possible!
What is Hope 4 A Street Dog?
The group of animal-lovers formed organically and has grown slowly over the past 15 years or so. It’s situated in the nearby community of Playa Junquillal – about a 15-minute drive from our hotel.
It all started when a German expat who rode her horses on the beach was frustrated with a pack of dogs that kept barking and chasing her. She complained to Berta Reyes Gomez (who is so passionate about dogs that she is known as the “dog whisperer”). Berta took the reins, and with some help, organized the first spay and neuter clinic in 2005. Since then, Hope 4 A Street Dog has expanded to a size and importance that no one could have predicted.
“Our main effort and goal is prevention,” said Berta, who is now the organization’s Director. “We focus solely and exclusively on castration and vaccination clinics in Playa Junquillal and surrounding communities.”
“We are a group of volunteers who do not receive a penny personally. Contrarily, we donate our time, money, and our emotions for pure love of the dogs.”
The group’s main fundraising event is Pasta 4 Paws, held every year around March. The 2019 fundraising dinner at Mundo Milo Eco-Lodge was the most successful yet, meaning the news is spreading about that the good work the charity is doing.
They also raise money selling Hope 4 A Street Dog t-shirts, which are on sale at various local shops and businesses. And the money is badly needed.
The hard-working and efficient veterinarians from Punta Arenas are paid for their services, and they need hotel rooms and food. Hope 4 A Street Dog also purchases all the medications and other supplies.
Those who are able are requested to pay 12,000 colones (approx. $20 USD) per pet treated at the clinics. But many people can’t afford to pay, especially when they have multiple animals, so Hope 4 A Street Dog welcomes sponsors for those families who can’t afford to get their pets fixed.
How you can help
It’s a grassroots movement that helps animal-owners – and also helps people who aren’t that fond of the four-legged variety – as it reduces the number of stray, feral or abandoned animals in the community. Everyone wins!
So here’s how you can help. Visit the Hope 4 A Street Dog website to donate or volunteer. Buy a Hope 4 A Street Dog shirt. Or purchase tickets or donate a prize for next year’s Pasta 4 Paws event.
Email [email protected] for more information or if you have questions!
Our community’s pets thank you!