Animal Groups in Manzanillo

By Diana Stevens from the February 2010 Edition

AMIGOS PARA UN REFUGIO ANIMAL

This is the first of a series of articles on how you can help improve the coexistence of humans and animals in our adopted city. Read about each group; investigate what catches your fancy and where you fit in.

ARA is a non-profit organisation whose mission is to create awareness for the needs of animals. The main goals are threefold: for sterilisation of animals, education and the long-term aim of eventually founding a permanent Refuge for ownerless animals. The streets of Manzanillo are over populated with mangy, underfed and very unhappy dogs. The cats are less obvious but probably far more numerous. This is miserable for the animals concerned and a serious health hazard for the human population.

ARA has taken the realistic decision to concentrate on offering free sterilisation for pets for families who cannot afford to pay for this but understand its importance. With an ARA certificate obtainable from a dedicated vet the pet can be operated in Dr. Alejandro Garcia’s “Mundo Animal” Hospital situated downtown at Hidalgo no. 284. Patients can also be dropped off and collected from Dr. Alejandro’s pet shop at 2001-L-B, Paseo Las Gaviotas, very near the corner of the main Las Garzas road.
Sterilisation is fundamental to improving the animal situation in Manzanillo. Less than ten years ago packs of street dogs used to roam the city and run wild on the beach. This hazard has been greatly reduced by the activities of all the animal groups. On ARA’s excellent web-site they highlight the urgency of the problem.

You see a picture of a sweet little kitty aged five months. Beneath one can read the hair-raising statistic of her potential fecundity. She is now capable of having three litters a year and within seven years she and her offspring could have produced 420,000 more sweet little felines. The mind boggles!

To pay for these operations ARA organises fundraising events throughout the year. Much effort goes into these and help or donations from members and non-members are very welcome. In the last few years ARA has organised massive and very well attended Pig Roasts, a thrilling Chili Cook Offs on the beach, Dinner Dances with a Diva and a very popular Pre-Christmas Bazaar – excellent for buying last minute presents for children. Each of these entails a good deal of organisation and more hands will make the work much lighter for those involved. The board are always open to new ideas so if you have previous fundraising experience and are keen to share this do share your expertise with the ladies. This way you will help to clean up Manzanillo, prevent much needless suffering to the animals and have fun making new friends in the process.

The second string to ARA’s bow is Education. People who have their own pets usually look after them to the very best of their ability but are often limited by financial problems. But sometimes the difficulty is ignorance. An Education program for children in their last year of primary school has been run in cooperation with the University of Colima whose students explain the need for cleanliness, correct feeding, clean water, vaccinations, exercise, play and kindness. There are articles about these topics on the web-site and include the all important point about picking up after your dog.

ARA does not rush in where angels fear to tread but bears in mind that they are working in a very unfamiliar country. They are fully aware of liability risks should someone’s beloved pet escapes or in the unlikely event of death – even if due to previously undisclosed conditions. For this reason the policy is for the owners to be “proactive” and take the initiative. They or the vet transport the animal who can the undergo surgery in a fully sterile operating room. For the same reason ARA does not go hunting for apparently “ownerless” street dogs or cats who could later turn out to belong to someone who did not authorise surgery!
Some of the street animals suffer from horrible diseases which are very probably contagious, not the least of which are mange and a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) (Note: Dogs and cats do NOT get AIDS, Cats get an autoimmune disease similar in that it is contagious but more like leukemia than AIDS – however it is sometimes referred to, incorrectly, as Feline AIFS) ARA believes that such cases are best handled by a trained professional in the right conditions.

ARA meets on the third Wednesday of each month at 11.30a.m. at Playa de Santiago Hotel at pool level so you are warmly invited to come along and see how ARA conducts business and see where you can help. Members of the board are democratically
elected and agree on actions to be taken and fundraising.

The Board makes its plans when it has raised a realistic sum and pays Dr. Alejandro $350 pesos for each operation he performs. From September 2007 to the end of last year a grand total of 561 sterilisations had been performed.

Apart from events ARA has published a beautifully illustrated Cookbook written in both English and Spanish. It would make an excellent present for folks back home or yourself. The many enticing recipes were contributed by supporters here in

Manzanillo. This book is about to go into its second edition but there are still some originals left.

The next meeting on 17th February, is the Annual General Meeting and not the best time to visit, but check the web site at www.ara-manzanillo.org to find out more about ARA, order your copy of the Cook book, make a contribution or volunteer to help.

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