The Creation of the Galapagos Bio-Ethics Board
The Galapagos Islands are where it all began for Animal Balance! It’s been 15 years since Emma founded AB to introduce humane cat/dog population management to the Galapagos, in order to end the use of poison for this end. The community-based strategies we first used on Isabela Island have proven successful in the 12 countries/islands around the world where AB has since worked. Much of the secret to our success has been the meticulous preparation we undertake prior to entering a new environment. In addition to working with individuals, organizations and government entities where we plan to do interventions, preparation often includes consulting the expert members of our advisory board, and other specialists with unique knowledge. This is how AB developed and maintains comprehensive veterinary protocols and culturally sensitive approaches to working with communities around the world. And while our goal as an organization is to create sustainable programs aimed at reducing the overall population of cats and dogs, fundamental to AB’s philosophy is to at all times provide the highest-quality and most compassionate care to each individual animal with whom we interact. For this reason, Emma has joined Dr. Marilyn Cruz, the director of our principal partner organization in the Galapagos Islands, the Agency for the Regulation and Control of the Biosecurity and Quarantine for Galapagos (ABG), in forming a Bioethics Review Committee for Cats and Dogs on Galapagos. This committee was formed as a part of the 10-year agreement that is in place between ABG and AB, whereby AB assists ABG to ensure any individuals and organizations working with cats and dogs on the archipelago maintain the high care and quality standards established by AB/ABG for the islands’ cats and dogs. The Galapagos Islands are a laboratory for scientists and students from every part of the world. It is no surprise that there is an interest by some to study cats and dogs on the archipelago, or introduce interventions that affect them. The advisory board will allow for a formal ethical review of any new studies and/or proposed interventions on cats and dogs in the Galapagos Islands. The purpose is to ensure that careful consideration is given to potential risks and harm to each individual animal, versus their potential to directly benefit. And it will assure that the protocols advanced by AB/ABG are followed (such as ear-tipping cats when they are sterilized). For this committee, we are very excited to be using the foundational bioethics principles developed by the Alliance for Contraception for Cats and Dogs in their February 15-17, 2017 ACC&D Think Tank on Ethical Decision-Making in Innovation for Animal Welfare.