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From the Galapagos to the Sunshine State: The Adventures of Max the Sea Lion Dog


Max living his best life at his new home in Florida.

It is not unusual for Animal Balance’s Team to stumble upon cases of loose companion animals roaming the street, especially in San Cristobal, but once in awhile we are particularly moved by the dogs we meet on the street. Max, the sea lion dog, was one of those dogs.


One day in May (at the time of our last spay/neuter campaign), on the beach, AB’s Team sighted a half-breed dog of about 18 months, medium height, brown eyes, elongated face and a unique personality. It was a puppy who seemed to have the same curiosity and love for adventure as a child.


Initially the team thought they had encountered a herd of sea lions on the shore, however, in the midst of this wonderful species appeared a dog in innocent pursuit of the sea lions. It seemed that Max felt part of the pack or, perhaps, this playful little friend had a personality (or species?) conflict.


This case caught our attention because Galápagos legislation prohibits the movement of dogs in the street without supervision and without a leash, so the presence of these four-legged friends on the beaches, without these elements, is a reason to fine their caretakers. The purpose of this policy is to avoid the contact of domestic animals with endemic species. Faced with an imminent fine, Max’s caretaker decided to surrender him to ABG, the local agency responsible for caring for both endemic and domestic species, so that he could be put up for adoption.


Max was neutered by the Animal Balance team and in that process the volunteers became his new friends until he found a new home. Fortunately, a local family decided to adopt him and give him a new opportunity. But the story did not end there. Weeks later, when we had already left the islands, we received the news that the adoption did not work, and Max was again at ABG’s headquarters.


Luckily there are wonderful souls who love all living beings and who do not surrender easily, one of them is Emma Clifford, Animal Balance's CEO, who after this incident organized an "operation" to move Max from the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador to the Sunshine State, Florida, in the United States. Thus began this adventure in which many were happily involved.


Before leaving for the US, Max spent a couple of weeks with the ABG team in San Cristóbal, who took care of him with care and dedication until he could get a space on the plane that would take him to the mainland, specifically, Cuenca in the Ecuadorian Andean region, where Max would stay for about two months until all the requirements for his trip abroad were met.


My family - human and not human - and I had the good fortune of hosting him during this time and with total assurance I can say that it was a wonderful gift that filled us with tenderness and joy. Now Max is finally at home in Odessa, FL. Pam Dickens and his big family have welcomed him with immense love.


At the end of this journey, I am happy with the excellent predisposition and efforts of each of the people who contributed to make Max have a family and a quiet life.

Saving all species, achieving a balance, generating a positive impact, these are the objectives for which Animal Balance works every day, wherever we go.


-Jessica Gonzalez, Animal Balance Galapagos Program

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