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The SPA: What We Are and What We’re Not

By Megan Gabel

One evening, a number of years ago, my husband and I found two newborn kittens under a tree behind our house. Not knowing any better, we tried to give them milk but didn’t have a dropper, so it didn’t work. We put them back outside, thinking that maybe the mother cat would return and take care of her babies. The next morning, they were still there, so we brought them to the SPA, where we were told that no nursing mother was available. They said they would try to save the kittens but possibly would not succeed.

It did not occur to me then that the SPA might ever say there wasn’t room for these kittens or that I should leave a donation to help with the cost of taking care of these kittens or that the SPA might just say no. I’ve learned a lot since then, after becoming an SPA volunteer, then a board member, and then the general director.

I’ve learned that had I called the SPA just to report the abandoned newborn kittens, the SPA would not have been able to send anyone to save them. The SPA also doesn’t get involved with animal abuse cases, heartbreaking though they are. We lack the personnel and finances—and in some cases the authority—to do that. Furthermore, simply because an animal needs help doesn’t mean that the SPA is capable of helping, as much as it would like to do so. We have space limitations, particularly with dogs. We cannot magically create “casitas” when we are full. When we are able to accept an animal, we request a donation to help defray the cost.

Our adoption fee is 500 pesos. It is much less than what our out-of-pocket expense is for each animal we accept, not even considering food. For cats, the fee includes sterilization, all current vaccinations, deworming, feline leukemia/FIV testing, and the feline leukemia vaccine and booster. For dogs, it includes sterilization, all current vaccinations, deworming, the leptospirosis booster, and enrollment in the Green Paw Pet Registration Program.

Many animal shelters say that if someone chooses to rescue an animal, the animal becomes that person’s responsibility. Yes, I know. What are you supposed to do if you run across a litter of abandoned puppies or kittens? Keep on walking? It’s tough. When the SPA is full, we offer a place on our waiting list and possible alternatives. We wish we had the personnel, finances, and unlimited space to help all needy animals, but we don’t. We provide shelter for an average of 100 animals (cats and dogs, like Serinidad and Nena). Our first responsibility is to care for them and work on finding them homes. Remember that adopting a shelter animal saves two lives—the one that is adopted and the one we now have room to take in.

Meet the SPA animals Monday–Saturday, 11–2, Los Pinos 7, 152 6124.


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