Hand in Hand – Paw in Paw – Neighbours Helping Neighbours

We all try to do our best to help each other in our own communities, but sometimes we need a little help from our neighbours. In this case, a non-profit from Quintana Roo has reached across to Yucatán to help one of our small towns with a serious problem.

A few weeks ago, a very lovely human contacted me. Her name was Laura and she told me all about a little village called Colonia Yucatán, which is about 200 kilometres away from Merida, in the municipality of Tizimin, in eastern part of Yucatán state. Laura runs an organisation called Kan-Cozumel, which helps dogs, cats, and their humans on the pretty little island of Cozumel, in our neighbouring state of Quintana Roo. She told me that they were planning a big spay and neuter campaign in Colonia Yucatán and asked if I could share information about their fundraiser on my Facebook page, just in case some of my friends might want to help them out.

Well, if you know me, you know that I am a super-duper news hound, and a proud ambassador for spaying and neutering. So, I wanted to know more. Especially, as they were coming to help achieve my goal of making Yucatán the most pet friendly state in Mexico. The only way to do that is to make sure every cat and dog has a loving home and the only way we can get there is through sterilisation and education. That is what Kan Cozumel does, so Laura sounded exactly like my favourite sort of human. I asked her if I could interview her about the campaign.

The first question I asked was why they were helping the little town of Colonia Yucatán. After all, her organisation is in another state. She explained. “My good friend Jimmy lives in Cozumel but his family lives in Colonia Yucatán. Like many other towns in the peninsula, Colonia Yucatán has been enduring, for some years now, problems related to and directly caused by a lack of control on the pet population breeding. Jimmy has been a volunteer on spay and neuter campaigns that are organised on the island of Cozumel for some time now. He came to me with the idea to organise a spay and neuter campaign for Colonia Yucatán.”

As a spay and neuter ambassador, I’ve learned that the most successful campaigns are grass roots and involve the people who live in the community. Of course, I know that Jimmy comes from Colonia Yucatán, but was anybody in the town helping to make this happen? Laura confirmed to me that there was, and her name is Miss Kity. I like that her name almost sounds like the name of some of the animals she is trying to help. Laura told about the work she was doing locally. “Our main contact in Colonia Yucatán is Ms. Kity. She is helping us reach the managers of possible locations to set up the campaign. Since December 2020 she has been making a census of the dogs and cats that are owned, and also counting the street animals.”

The aim is to spay and neuter two hundred cats and dogs at Colonia Yucatan. I wondered if that would be enough to help the town. Laura is sure it will. “Ms. Kity already has 120 animals signed in for the spay and neuter, plus we will have a team to trap the street or feral dogs and cats. Colonia Yucatán is still a small town, so it’s a good moment to do a spay and neuter campaign to stop or reduce the reproduction of dogs and cats.” 

But what I really wanted to know was why the animals in Colonia Yucatán need so much help. When Laura told me why, it made me so sad. “Even owned pets have a hard time when sick or injured since there is no veterinary service in town. The closest one is 45 minutes away in Tizimin and it is a difficult journey for many who don’t have a motorised vehicle. Last week I received a call from Ms. Kity asking me how she could help a five-month-old kitten that was having a miscarriage. Without a veterinarian, nothing could be done. Thankfully the veterinarian arrived to the town after a couple of hours and aided the kitten. Of course, the babies did not survive, but the momma is safe now.”

That story made me so sad. Babies shouldn’t be having babies. I asked Laura about other problems with the dogs and cats in the town.  “Females with obvious signs of continuous pregnancy are abundant in Colonia Yucatán. When I was there one afternoon, I saw one of the females and asked her owner what happened to the puppies. They all died.  Many of the litters die because of malnutrition of the mother and themselves. They die from infections and diseases due to the poor environment they live in. The ones that survive are adopted, if lucky, or they live in the streets and eat from the garbage. There are over twenty dogs that live in the garbage place. Most homes are not fenced, so dogs can come and go as they please, therefore, it’s very important that most of them get sterilised so they do not reproduce.”

It certainly sounds like they have an overpopulation of cats and dogs in Colonia Yucatán. Laura explained how this affects the humans and animals of the town. “The consequences of pet overpopulation are diverse. Mainly, the number of pets in town have exceeded the capacity of the people to take care of them, therefore we have pets living in the streets, in garbage dump sites, or in improper homes. These circumstances entail a set of problems for the pets. Poor nutrition that puts the pet at risk of getting sick, exposed to injuries by accidents like being hit by cars or motorcycles, attacked by other pets, or even by people. 

After hearing all of this, I know that the humans reading this article will really want to help. Laura was happy to tell me exactly how to do that. “People who wish to help can make an economic donation and/or help us spread the word about the fundraising. Normally, we welcome volunteers for the spay and neuter campaigns, but since Colonia Yucatán is a really small town, it’s difficult for us to provide food and accommodation for the volunteers, therefore we are relying on very very experienced volunteers to perform the tasks needed, so we do not need more people that we can actually have.”

I was interested to know how much it costs to sterilise cats and dogs and what other things they need money for. “It varies greatly and depends on the species, gender, and weight of the pet. The cheapest is a male cat around 100 pesos ($5 USD), and can get as expensive as 500 pesos ($25 USD) to spay a big female dog. Plus, we have to count the expenses of meals, beverages, transportation and accommodation of volunteers.”

The spay and neuter superheroes who are involved in making this all happen include Ms. Kity from Colonia Yucatán, Kan – Cozumel, Mi Amigo de la Calle (from Playa del Carmen) and Planned Pethood International Mexico (from Puerto Morelos). They are the humans who are doing all the hard work. Without them, this incredible project would not be possible. 

So, kind humans. You know what to do. Let’s help this small town in Yucatán to lead the way towards us becoming a truly pet friendly state. Every single penny you spend will help to save a life. Not just one life, but hundreds, because every cat and dog can produce so many puppies and kittens. I don’t have enough toes to count them all on, but trust me, it’s lots and lots.

I love you all kind humans and look forward to hearing how generous you have been. We can do this! Donate here!

*Thank you to Kan Cozumel for providing the photographs for this article.

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