Managing the Pet Population in Galapagos

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Managing the Pet Population in Galapagos


Humane Pet Management in Galapagos


Animal Balance, Galapagos National Park Service, Galapagos Biosecurity Agency


Funded in 2014; ongoing


Dog walking in Galapagos

© Buffy Redsecker/iLCP



Feral and domestic cats and dogs pose serious problems to the native wildlife of Galapagos, such as young marine iguanas, penguins, and small land birds —  to name a few — who have no natural defenses against these introduced predators. Galapagos Conservancy is supporting the work of Animal Balance in the Islands, an organization that works closely with local pet owners to help them properly care for their pet dogs and cats through sterilization campaigns and education on responsible pet ownership.

Through partnerships with the Galapagos National Park (GNP) and the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency (ABG), Animal Balance trains Ecuadorian veterinarians to spay and neuter cats and dogs so they can provide this service in an ongoing, sustainable fashion. This, in conjunction with a comprehensive community education program, provides the local population with the tools they need to act responsibly regarding their pets. By humanely controlling the cat and dog populations in Galapagos, the delicate native and endemic species will remain healthy and protected.

Animal Balance and their partners have sterilized more than 4,500 animals in Galapagos in the last ten years. Animal Balance was able to return to the Islands in June 2014 with funding from Galapagos Conservancy, during which their veterinarians trained the ABG vets in a “fast spay” technique in which a smaller, less invasive incision is used, and in male sterilizations performed using Zeuterin, which is less invasive than castration. Both procedures require fewer medicines and recovery time than traditional spay and neuter methods.

An animal hospital was also set up at the ABG headquarters on Santa Cruz in June, where 125 dogs and cats were treated and sterilized in 4 days. A second animal hospital was set up at ABG’s quarantine building on Isabela Island, where 104 cats and dogs were sterilized. Galapagos Conservancy funds were used to purchase $10,000 of the necessary medicines for the procedures.

As a result of the work in June, Animal Balance and ABG signed a formal agreement to work together to continue to control reproduction of cats and dogs, to provide training to the ABG staff and veterinarians, and to further implement the humane animal management program in collaboration with the community in order to protect the Galapagos biosphere for generations to come.

Read the blog by Animal Balance founder Emma Clifford.

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