In Latin America, there are over 210 million people living below the poverty line. These marginalized communities are heavily burdened with neglected diseases and a number of these are transmitted to people by domestic dogs. Two of the most important ones are rabies and cystic hydatid disease: both very different in character but equally as devastating to families with affected loved-ones.
Our program targets the most marginalized sectors of the pet-owning community by offering the same services to all, but at a cost that reflects disadvantages in household earnings, age and other disabilities or minorities. In Valdivia alone, there are 135,000 people; with approximately one in every four people owning pets and 80% of families covered by FONASA. This translates into approximately 7,000 families that could benefit from our cost-structured services.Elena Garde, Program Director
Our Disease Prevention & Field Services
The focus of our program is to provide preventive veterinary services to communities that lack them and suffer from a high prevalence of neglected diseases, such as rabies and hydatid disease. These services include physical exams, vaccination, deworming, and sterilization.
Our service is not restricted to animals: we work with owners to help them understand the importance of preventive care, regular vaccination, and deworming of their animals. We also have community days for children that focus on responsible animal ownership and maintaining personal safety in the face of animal attacks.
During our field service campaigns, we take the opportunity to bring North American veterinarians, students, and technicians together with local professionals in Guatemala and Chile to provide a venue for sharing techniques and ideas.
We work together with governments and relevant stakeholders to find permanent and humane solutions to their street dog management challenges. Through a series of workshops and capacity exercises in strategic planning, we are working to find long-lasting solutions that fit the local community.
The GAAP Clinic
Through our clinic located in Valdivia, Chile, we are providing equal access to preventive veterinary care for all sectors of the community and innovative and creative education for dog owners to increase the human-animal bond. The long-term objective is to use this program as a future model for other cities in Chile and throughout Latin America.
The focus of our program is to teach people about the importance of keeping their pets healthy rather than only treating them when they are sick or injured. Our services include exams, vaccination, deworming, sterilization, training, and responsible dog owner classes.
Our public services include a special focus on engaging and educating children about responsible pet ownership.
The GAAP Clinic also works as a space for knowledge exchange for students from North America and Chile. Using the expertise of local and foreign veterinarians, students have the opportunity to learn from each other, experience working in a Chilean clinic and to see and understand the free-roaming dog issue first hand.
One of our main goals is providing equal access to veterinary health and information about responsible pet care. Our services are offered to the public on a sliding scale basis using the national health care system which categorizes families according to their household income. We want all pet owners to understand that pet health care is just as much a part of a family’s health care needs as the family members themselves.
We work with marginalized, remote and often indigenous communities to bring appropriate field veterinary services to reduce the free-roaming dog population, as well as the incidence of disease in domestic dogs, thereby reducing the rate of transmission to people. Our current target areas are Valdivia (Chile), Todos Santos (Guatemala) and Northern Ontario (Canada).Elena Garde, Program Director