Supporting communities in starting sustainable spay and neuter programs
If you would like to get involved with our projects or have your pets spayed or neutered, please download this spreadsheet (click here) and you will receive a list of all of the veterinarians in Costa Rica to choose from, including their phone numbers.
Even though Costa Rica shows the highest spay and neuter rate in Central America, approximately 80% of veterinarians and animal organizations are dedicated to the Central Valley (the most affluent and gentrified area of the country.) Spay and neuter efforts in rural areas are not yet sufficient to stem the growth of the stray population, coupled with lack of education, this leads to abuse and neglect. Therefore, we will focus our efforts in rural areas.
McKee will continue to offer advanced spay and neuter surgery training in Nicaragua. Previously we invited one Nicaraguan veterinarian to come to Costa Rica for training, who then trained any interested vets in exchange to their commitment to offering regularly scheduled, low-cost spay and neuter clinics. McKee will continue to run this project in coordination with Fundación Amarte.
McKee plans to work closely with Spay Panama, which leads the charge to end animal abuse in Panama offering advanced spay and neuter training for veterinarians, as well as low-cost surgeries for low income people.
Due to the similarity between our organizations, we have decided to join forces combining our efforts to introduce McKee´s Community Outreach Program south of the Costa Rican border. This program is designed to train community leaders and animal organizations on how to set up a sustainable and successful spay and neuter program, launch local fundraising activities and promote responsible animal ownership.
All the countries where we have introduced our programs have made tremendous progress when it comes to how companion animals are perceived and treated. More and more dogs and cats are being looked upon as sentient beings with new veterinary clinics and pet supply stores opening on a regular basis, animal abuse routinely denounced to animal advocacy groups as well as government agencies and increased attendance to low-cost spay and neuter clinics, even in very poor neighborhoods.
Costa Rica has always led the way to end animal suffering in Central and Latin America and, thanks to our international program, we were able to continue our advocacy work in the entire region, training more veterinarians in the small incision method and assisting communities in starting and implementing their own spay and neuter campaigns.
Since the year 2000, McKee has trained more than 300 veterinarians in advanced spay and neuter surgery methods, and more than 50 communities have participated in McKee´s Community Outreach Program which helps them set up regularly held low-cost spay and neuter clinics.
McKee is principally responsible for the increased number of annual spay and neuter surgeries (an annual growth estimated at 22%.) More than 50,000 animals were spayed or neutered in 2009, which corresponds to 5% of the total pet population. We estimate that 40% of the population is now “fixed” and that by year 2015 we might actually reach our goal of 70%!
McKee has initiated 3 Cat Café projects in Costa Rica:
-Tabacón Resort & Grand Spa: in 2007, McKee founded the first Cat Café project at the Tabacón Resort. We chose Tabacón as the prototype hotel for this project, because Tabacón is one of the most prestigious and most visited resorts in Costa Rica. At the time, the administration was not sure if they wanted the program (most hotels choose to poison the cats, or trap and relocate them), so McKee offered to cover all set up expenses in order to encourage participation.
-Condovac La Costa: this hotel is located in Guanacaste where cat overpopulation has been an issue for the past 20 years. The hotel management called us asking for help, so we offered the Cat Café program and, in less than a month, were able to set up the project. 90% of the cat population was spayed and neutered and every one was extremely happy with the results of the project.
-Buen Pastor Female Detention Center: the management of the detention facility called McKee asking for support: there was huge concern for cat overpopulation and also for the issue of the cats being fed everywhere and anywhere by the inmates. Thanks to a grant by Marchig Trust Animal Welfare, McKee was able to set up its third Cat Café in Costa Rica, bringing not only benefits to the cats, but to the women population at the prison as well.
With the support of Best Friends Animal Society and a strategic alliance with recently founded Fundación AMARTE, McKee was able to introduce its population control model. Slowly, but surely people in Nicaragua are becoming more and more interested in humane methods of pet population control and McKee has found great interest in the veterinary community as far as learning and practicing advanced spay and neuter techniques.
-37 veterinarians received the Advanced Spay and Neuter Surgery Training in five different communities in Nicaragua: Diriamba, Masaya, Granada, Matagalpa and Managua
-243 animals were fixed during the trainings
-Workshops for community volunteers and members of animal organizations were offered in Matagalpa and Managua
This is the cultural change that McKee has been promoting since being founded by Christine Crawford over a decade ago, little by little, people are starting to respond. We have strengthened our relationship with Fundación AMARTE, who has become an advocate and promoter of spay and neuter.
During 2008 McKee was awarded a grant by WSPA in order to propose a solution to the issue of pet overpopulation by training communities to be proactive and by providing advanced spay and neuter surgery training for all interested veterinarians. The goal was to inspire communities and animal organizations to offer periodic low-cost surgeries and to promote a shift from collecting and mass poisoning to spay and neuter both by veterinarians and government agencies.
As a result McKee accomplished the following:
-A total of 73 veterinarians were trained in McKee’s advanced spay neuter surgery technique: in Guatemala City, Quetzaltenango, Chiquimula and Cobán
-15 4th year veterinary students were trained in McKee’s Advanced Spay and Neuter Surgery Protocol as well as in how to design community solutions
-48 community leaders/animal advocacy groups attended lectures on how to develop successful population control programs
-4 McKee groups (veterinarian plus volunteers) were awarded a small grant for specific projects
Dr. Yayo Vicente, President of the McKee Project, officially presented the McKee Model in Belize in May 2009. Among the participants, there were representatives of the Department of Public Health, the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA), the Humane Society, Saga Humane Society, BeKind Belize and many private practice veterinarians.
There are only 20 licensed veterinarians in Belize and McKee trained 10 of them, (the ones who practice on small animals.) We offered 4 surgery trainings at the Belize Humane Society and insisted on a radical shift from rescue to prevention, in order to start educating the public on the importance of spay and neuter as well as on the catastrophic consequences that neglect and abandonment produce and their impact on society in terms of lower quality of life and higher social costs.
The Curaçao Foundation for the Protection of Animals approached the McKee Project and WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals) requesting support to train local veterinarians in advanced spay and neuter surgery techniques. They had been performing spay and neuter surgeries at the shelter, but the cost was extremely high because the veterinarians did not know the advanced technique that McKee teaches.
One of McKee´s surgery training instructors, Dr. Olman Solano, traveled to Curacao to train 8 veterinarians who are now performing safer and less expensive procedures in the local shelter and neighboring communities.
Thanks to the support of Best Friends Animal Society, McKee had the opportunity to extend its program across the Panama canal and all the way to Perú. The interest from local veterinarians, animal organizations, independent volunteers, government agencies and universities exceeded our expectations.
Following are some of the outcomes of the project:
-17 veterinarians trained in McKee’s Advanced Spay and Neuter Surgery Technique
-As of December 2010, a total of 1147 animals were spayed or neutered as a result of the veterinary training and the workshop for volunteers
-Before the training 79% of the veterinarians selected performed less than 5 spay & neuter surgeries per month. After completing the training the average number of animals spayed or neutered per veterinarian per month has increased to 39. This number usually increases during the following years due to the fact that pet owners become more aware of the benefits of spay and neuter, plus the veterinarian himself gains experience performing the surgery and, therefore, is able to lower prices even more as he becomes more cost efficient in the procedure
-Animal organizations and community leaders greatly valued the information shared on shifting efforts from rescue to prevention