Where we've been
From the Galápagos islands to west texas - animal balance goes wherever there is a need - From fragile populations existing only on some of the world's most remote archipelagos to packs of street dogs, ab will be there - providing compassion; collaborating with locals officials, residents, and other support services; so all species may coexist and thrive peacefully and with the respect they deserve.
An AB Timeline
In 2004, Animal Balance created the islandwide humane animal management program across the Galapagos Islands with CIMEI, a coalition of all the Galapagos Institutions. In 2010, ABG was created to replace CIMEI at which point Animal Balance signed long-term Convenios to partner with ABG. The collective goal is to provide the resources necessary for a comprehensive humane, animal management program to manage the cats and dogs of the islands, utilizing the ‘Five Freedoms’ and leading with respect and compassion.
Animal Balance places tremendous emphasis on training Ecuadorian vets, techs and program directors, in order to create a sustainable program, managed by the Ecuadorian authorities.
In 2009, volunteers from Animal Balance set up Darwin Animal Doctors on Santa Cruz, today this NGO has transitioned to Galapagos Animal Doctors. They are supported by World Veterinary Services (UK) and provide spay/neuter and limited veterinary activities in Santa Cruz.
In 2020, when the pandemic hit, we knew that the lack of spay/neuter would mean an increase in the cat and dog populations across the islands. As World Vets (USA) are close colleagues of ours, Animal Balance asked ABG if World Vets could set up a volunteer, free vet clinic in San Cristobal. They agreed and now they have a functioning clinic serving that community.
In 2022, Animal Balance, ABG and the Conserjo set up a population and disease control clinic on Isabela Island. This ensured that all the main islands where people, cats and dogs live, had a spay/neuter and vaccine service offered in conjunction with ABG and the Municipality.
The program continues to work well, without the need for animal shelters on any of the islands. The island wide program provides the spay/neuter, vaccines, dog training, vet and tech training and also humane education, if these are maintained, there is no need for a shelter.
Animal Balance has deployed multiple times to American Samoa, Originally we partnered with the American Samoa Humane Society, which closed and now, Love for All Animals/Alofa mo Meaola, coordinate with us - They are a locally managed non-profit organization.
During the numerous HQHVSN clinics, we trained the Department of Agriculture staff in all aspects of the clinic. We also worked with the American Samoa National Park Service to perform TNR for the island's cat population. We have held village clinics and also clinics at the Department of Agriculture building.
During the pandemic, we worked with Operation Blankets of Love in California and sent pallets of dog crates, plus collars and leashes and non-medical items.
We also connected Alofa mo Meaola with the Animal Legal Defense Fund to help establish an animal management plan that respects Samoan law and Federal US laws.
We are currently offering the VetAID program for American Samoa.
Animal Balance focuses on the North Eastern town of Cabrera for our DR cat and dog population and disease control work. We have held numerous campaigns since 2007 in Cabrera, Rio San Juan and the small communities surrounding these towns.
We began by partnering with the local Vet, Dr. Nelson Medina until non profit HQHVSN teams were formed in the DR. In 2009, a number of Dominican vets and animal rights lawyers visited our clinics, interested in finding out more. Dr. Lourdes Ripley was one of the vets, she said she would start an NGO and do this work as it should be carried out by Dominican vets. Whole heartedly agreeing, we began working together to develop Dominican HQHVSN drug protocols utilizing Dominican pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Lourdes opened Pets Breeding Control within a year.
We then held clinics with Pets Breeding Control, until Cabrera founded its own animal rescue group and could organize the logistics for the HQHVSN clinics in the area. Once they were established and trained, they could then receive other HQHVSN groups.
Now there are multiple foreign groups serving the DR, however, Pets Breeding Control is the largest and main Dominican managed HQHVSN group. They also recruit new vets from the 3 Veterinary Universities across the country. The ability for the Dominican vets to safely spay/neuter cats and dogs has dramatically increased thanks to Dr. Lourdes Ripley leading within her country and influencing the decision makers at the top governmental level.
Animal Balance partnered with The Spanky Project to serve the cat loving communities of Havana, particularly the Old Town area.
The Spanky Project led the program and asked Animal Balance for assistance with a citywide comprehensive cat TNR program, veterinary skills training workshops and lectures on the spay technique at the 2 local Veterinary Universities.
In Cuba if your pet has a medical issue, the vet will examine the animal and then the owner has to go and find the medicines that are needed. There are very few resources.
There are however, massive cat colonies of 2-300 cats. In order to find the feeders, we asked the Sunday evening radio show that talks about animals for one hour each week, to invite anyone who feeds outside cats to call a number. Hundreds of people called and local vet students took the calls, recorded the information and plotted the cat colonies into a map that they were able to send us.
Together we picked 4 main colonies in different zones of the city that we could 'trap out' in 2 weeks. When we arrived, we held a day long TNR training and gave out the traps we had sent. People organized and we had a strict schedule for feeding, trapping, transport and surgery days, plus returns and recovery.
We used an old VW bus without seats and packed in all the trapped cats. People made fake traps for desensitization purposes out of leftover wire and recycled materials. Each community was very active and had split up all duties.
It worked extremely well because we gave the needed resources, demonstrated the suggested plan, then the Cuban people made it their own. We have never seen such a well organized city of cat feeders.
The Spanky Project continues to serve the island with population control services, plus there are a number of associations in Havana and other cities, who assist.
animal Balance, BAARK, and the Bahamas Humane Society joined forces to create an islandwide, 2-week long, massive HQHVSN campaign with 5 clinics in key neighborhoods of Nassau Island.
The Bahamian organizations raised the funds for the entire campaign, plus major global animal protection organizations sent in-kind supplies.
A year prior to Operation Potcake, the local animal protection groups had formed teams and conducted a street dog survey, mapping and census. We knew exactly where to target our resources. The local NGOs had split into zones and worked each neighborhood, going door to door, explaining the veterinary services that were coming. The first phase was 100% grassroots work.
The Bahamas Veterinary Board granted 21 international vets with temporary vet licenses. We had all the HQHVSN power on Nassau.
250 international volunteer vets and techs flew into the island and were hosted by the tourist hotels. We had a 20 person highly trained street dog trapping team working target areas where there were free roaming dogs.
We spayed/neutered/vaccinated and treated an incredible 2,315 dogs and cats in 10 days with 5 clinics.
Operation Potcake was an incredible event as for the first time the HQHVSN MASH folks worked together, connected and then from there, many created their own HQHVSN MASH organizations. Animal Balance continues to provide strategic planning advice. The MASH network grew exponentially because of Operation Potcake. The seemingly impossible was possible AND this could be done everywhere.
Most people do not know it was Animal Balance that was behind Operation Potcake.
Animal Balance formed a partnership with a newly formed local NGO in Praia called Operation Vira Lata! We had encouraged a very active animal advocate to start her own NGO and she did.
We held a 2 week long spay and neuter intervention for the Old Town and the small villages in the same municipality. The local Health Department had requested assistance as they were concerned about the spread of zoonotic diseases, plus free roaming dogs were killing the cattle.
After a year of planning and surveying of the dog populations by the local team, who went door to door each month asking specific questions, we knew which villages we could assist, in the time that we had. A map was created with the target number of dogs for each village. The Mayor donated a truck, and then a bus, to help move the team from village to village in the searing hot desert.
The Animal Balance HQHVSN team arrived in the Cidade Velha, on Santiago Island. It is an historic site, known as a key market for trading slaves by the Europeans, who cruelly sent thousands upon thousands of African people to the Americas. Cabo Verde is also the island where Charles Darwin started his voyage to the Galapagos Islands.
Operation Vira Lata worked closely with the Health Dept. Director to arrange the clinics at each site, as we used the human health buildings.
This was true MASH. Everyday we went to a different village and fixed nearly 100% of the dogs at each. It was hot, dusty and we only saw one tree in 2 weeks. Shade was key and so the army put up tents for the villagers to wait in with their dogs.
This was a tough campaign because of the environment, a hot desert with very little infrastructure. However, it was also beautiful as we learned so much from the local people. Women would arrive, dressed in beautiful colorful clothes with such poise and grace, with giant ceramic pots on their heads, filled with water.
Villagers spent all day with us, watching, learning and teaching us about their culture. We were as remote as any of us had ever been and once we gave up on trying to get a phone signal, we got it.
Animal Balance and Operation Vira Lata! made a massive impact in this municipality of Santiago Island. We ended the 2 weeks with a celebration in the Old Town. People dressed up their dogs and it turned into a doggie dance party with prizes for all.
read the full report here
"This clinic changed me forever."
, Animal Balance formed a coalition with the animal welfare NGO's on Aruba to hold a large MASH teaching clinic. We planned to hold one clinic and then after being taught all the aspects of MASH, the local groups would organize their own.
In a week we sterilized 312 dogs, of those, 58 were trapped at Aruba's open pit dump. The trapping team had planned out the dog TNR portion of the program with the dog feeders and municipal health department workers.
The 12 local groups worked very closely with Animal Balance that week and ever since have held their own HQHVSN clinics, led by United Dogs of Aruba. The program worked.
In 2015, Animal Balance partnered with the SPCA on Oahu to perform a 'ZMASH' clinic, which is spay and neuter, plus we offered an injection that rendered the male dogs sterile. We offered the injection and the neuter to the public and more people called for appointments for the injection. This clinic targeted the hunting community and as they were against neutering their dogs, the injection worked well to control the hunting dog population.
From 2016 to 2019, we deployed from Maui, to the Big Island, to Molokai, and then to Kauai. We partnered with the Humane Societies and NGOs on each island, teaching their staff and volunteers how to cumulatively perform large-scale TNR and MASH clinics. We set up enormous clinics in their car park, spaying and neutering up to 800 animals in a week.
We deployed multiple times over the course of 4 years with large MASH and TNR volunteers teams to each island. We spayed, neutered and vaccinated an incredible 6,206 cats and dogs, plus we donated over 1,200 cat traps and 800 transfer cages to each Hawaiian Island humane society. We set each up for success with skills training and essential equipment.
Op-Sai’ is the name of Animal Balance’s 2014 campaign to humanely reduce the cat and dog population of Saipan. We partnered with the Humane Society International (HSI) to conduct a HQHVSN clinic in conjunction with the Saipan Mayor’s Office, who manage dog control on the island. HSI had conducted a dog census the year before, so we knew the population levels in the different towns and villages. Based on this information, we created a targeted high-volume community based sterilization program.
Saipan is part of the Mariana’s Islands, which are a few hours south-east from Japan, or a 30 minutes north of Guam by plane. Like Guam, Saipan is a U.S. territory and has a very turbulent history. The street dogs are called Boonie’s, they are descendants of the dogs that the Americans brought in, which were German Shepherds, during WWII.
Up until this clinic, 100% of all dogs taken to the shelter were killed. After our clinic this all changed. A local organization was born to adopt out dogs.
Together we sterilized, vaccinated and treated 380 dogs, 214 spays, 122 neuters and 44 Zeuters and we adopted 18 shelter dogs.
In 2019, we set up the 'Spay Pod' on Kauai as the Humane Society was not spaying and neutering cats at that time. Given that Kauai has a very sensitive habitat, we felt it was imperative that an organization immediately focus on the escalating cat population. A Kauai vet sold us a small shipping container and our team on Kauai built it out to serve as a surgery suite.
We set it up first next to the All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Kapa’a, on the island’s east side, and the other at Koloa Missionary Church in Koloa, on the southside of the island. The clinics were held simultaneously in an effort to aid those who are not willing, or able, to battle the traffic on the island to access a clinic that is far away from their home.
The Spay Pod was a critically important service provider on Kauai, as no other organization was providing spay/neuter for community cats at that time. The Spay Pod spayed and neutered 1,285 animals and was dearly loved by the cat loving community.
When the DLNR attempted to ban TNR in certain areas, we flew to Honolulu to meet with Governor Ige. We brought Dr. Cruz, the CEO of the ABG, the Ecuadorian agency of government that protects the biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands. We met for 7 hours discussing the similarities between the archipelagos and the strategies that work to combat introduced species in highly sensitive habitats. This was a momentous occasion that helped to align ideas and strategies.
Animal Balance's Hawaii Program was an intensive 5-year program that focused on infrastructure, training, equipment, and teaching of a comprehensive, strategic approach to humane animal management.
Barbuda & antiqua
In 2018, a year after Hurricane Irma, that devastated this impoverished, flat, small island in the Eastern Caribbean, The van Beurean Charitable Foundation contacted Animal Balance and asked us to deploy to assist the community with their veterinary needs.
After the storm, the Antigua Army had forced the residents off the island. Their dogs had to be left behind and the army sadly shot many of them, as they began to eat the goats and other animals that humans use for food. It was a tragic situation for all. Before the dog population could bounce back, we were asked to spay, neuter and vaccinate all the dogs left, in order to manage the new dog population and any associated diseases.
As all the hotels had been crushed in the storm, we stayed in tents in a large field. There was no running water, or amenities that week. We borrowed a huge white tent to use for shade for a clinic site. When NGO's deliver services or in-kind items they are given from this white tent, so everyone who had returned to Barbuda by 2018, knew why we were there and walked their dogs over to us. The team brought their camping gear and the Fire Truck driver kindly filled an animal water trough with water for us to use.
We spent 4 hot, windy days working closely with the community to find all the dogs and spay and neuter as many as we could. Many local people helped us by being our 'outreach team' and going house to house with our professional dog trapper. They learned how to safely approach, trap, hold and release dogs of various dispositions.
We spayed and neutered 98 animals and gave over 150 vaccines, when another storm came in unexpectedly. Our clinic tent and our sleeping tents were destroyed. However, our sponsors kindly and quickly sent a boat for us and we switched to Antigua and set up a TNR cat program at the Mill Reef Club.
This program gave the community of Barduda a safer start to their rebuild.
In 2018, Animal Balance formed a partnership with Dr. Raymond, who owns his own practice and NGO for kind population management in Trinidad. He is an AB Alumni and also sits on the Board of Animal Balance.
We set up the HQHVSN clinics in two locations that Dr. Deanonnan wanted to target as these communities are impoverished and had been asking for services, Charleville and Barrakpore. We visited both and were able to provide 329 spays and neuters, plus vaccines and anti-parasite medications for these communities.
Recently, thanks to a Banfield Foundation grant, we were able to send Dr. Deonannan parts of an anesthesia machine that he could reassemble there. Surgeries had been carried out using an injectable anesthesia protocol prior. We will continue to support Dr. Deaonnan as we move forward.
Latin America: galápagos islands
mainland USA: texas, new mexico, Arizona, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, California, Washington, Indiana, Oregon...