Advocacy for animal welfare stands out as a cause that has succeeded in bringing foreign and Mexican inhabitants of the lakeside area ever closer together.
The trend began many years ago thanks to concerned expats who established various shelters to take in homeless cats and dogs. Volunteer groups behind local spay-and-neuter programs deserve credit for building an emerging common ground on the philosophy of humane and responsible care of animals
Chapala’s Operación Amor and a sister group based in San Juan Cosalá – recently rebranded as Tails of Mexico – run periodic free pet sterilization clinics geared toward the Mexican population. Both programs are helping reduce the proliferation of unwanted kittens and puppies that would likely end up as strays and shelter occupants. The projects exemplify what can be achieved when people of diverse nationalities unite to improve the quality of community life.
Mexican and foreign volunteers work side by side on the support teams that keep the clinics ticking with clockwork efficiency. They take on step-by-step assignments to register clients, fill out medical records, weigh each dog and cat, apply perfectly measured doses of anesthesia, prep the animals for surgery, assist the veterinarians performing the procedures, groom and watch over animals in the post-op recovery areas, ink small tattoos indicating the creature has been sterilized, and instruct owners on post-operative care.
Operación Amor handled 218 surgeries at its 17th clinic, held November 3 through 5 at the campus of Chapala’s Escuela Secundaria Técnica 83, far exceeding the original goal of 50 procedures per day.
Tails of Mexico is preparing to run its next clinic December 2 and 3, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Jocotepec’s Cetac senior high school, located at Calle Rivera del Lago 800, near the town’s waterfront Malecón.
Many of the volunteer helpers collaborate with both programs. Participating veterinarians provide their services and expertise free of charge. Several non-profit animal organizations and private corporations are on board as sponsors.
On a broader scale, the clinics have been effective in raising public awareness about the benefits of pet sterilization, a concept that is finally gaining acceptance in a largely conservative society. And the programs seem to have boosted activism among Mexican people, spawning ad hoc groups and individuals that are involved in rescuing abandoned and abused animals, fostering adoptions and advertising wayward critters that are lost and found.