Some fast facts about why this campaign is needed:
– The main village of Tortuguero hosts 1600 people – but a recent survey in 2020 proved there were over 3000 dogs (at time of the survey, this number is likely much higher now).
– The nearest veterinary clinic is nearly 3 hours away by boat and taxi. It costs upwards of $100 to get there.
– There have been two major distemper outbreaks in the area in the last 10 years, this resulted in hundreds of dogs suffering and dying, as well as infecting local wildlife populations.
– Tortuguero is one of the most biologically important places on the planet and home to many endangered species.
Tortuguero, in the Caribbean of Costa Rica, is a nature lover’s mecca. As home to tons of amazing species, including jaguars, it is also one of the main nesting sites for endangered sea turtles, you can understand why so many people want to visit. Whilst this is a tourist hot spot, the majority of the population depend on fishing on the river or farming in nearby banana plantations. Most families in the area are existing on around $450 a month. There are very few services for this community, including vital veterinary ones.
With no access to veterinary services in Tortuguero & the surrounding area, it is impossible to keep a healthy population of dogs & cats, as well as local wildlife. The nearest vet clinic is nearly 3 hours away. Not only is this impossible for the regular person to do when they are working full time to support their family, but it is also too expensive. As a result the dogs and cats of these areas have to exist without necessary pet care from surgeries to deworming to vaccinations. Not only is this causing a problem within the community itself, but also an ecological one.
Without these vital services cats & dogs are suffering massively and die at unprecedented and unnecessary rates. Not only that, in recent years, due to the overpopulation of free roaming unvaccinated cats/dogs, who are also not spayed or neutered, the dogs have begin to attack and kill endangered turtle species (such as the green sea turtle) as well as digging up their nests to eat the eggs (with only 1 in 1000 hatchlings surviving to adulthood already). Plus, with it being impossible to get regular vaccinations for the domestic animals of Tortuguero there is now an alarming trend of local wildlife becoming infected with avoidable, yet deadly viruses, such as distemper, feline aids & leukaemia. The ecosystem of Tortuguero is currently extremely out of balance and it is having a huge, dangerous impact on the local flora and fauna. This fundraiser is therefore not going to help just cats & dogs, but the community as a whole and important wildlife populations. This project could not be more vital and without immediate change these issues are only going to become exacerbated and it is going to end up destroying the wildlife of this biologically important place. And the suffering of the dogs and cats of this area will continue and will only get worse.
What We Need:
We are aiming to raise £45,000 (about $50,000) to be able to build the only clinic in the area, as well as kit it out with all necessary equipment and medicines it will need to work successfully. We are also going to hire a full time vet to work in this clinic and in the future we aim for it to be a teaching hospital so young vets in training can come and learn, as well as many volunteers from all over the world to help out.
What makes this clinic special is it will not only work for cats & dogs, but also help any injured wildlife – another service that is lacking in Tortuguero and greatly needed. When wildlife is found injured, all due to human causes such as dog attacks and electrocutions, there is also nowhere to take them. In some cases they have been taken to the nearest vet 3 hours away, but also being out of their native environment can make it even harder for those species to be reintroduced. Therefore, the creation of this clinic is going to be able to help local injured wildlife be saved and easily reintroduced back into the forest.
Where the money will go:
- Land in Tortuguero is very limited so we have budgeted £11,000 to purchase land for the clinic
- It will cost a further £10,000 to build the clinic from the ground up
- The average vet salary is £11,500 a year in Costa Rica and this fundraiser will help pay for the clinic’s first year of operations. After this initial year wages and equipment will be paid, ad hoc, by the RISE Foundation, as well as from donations from local businesses in the Tortuguero area
- £7,500 to kit the clinic out with equipment and medication
- £5,000 for any additional costs – building in a remote area is not easy, we expect there to be delays and additional costs
Any funds we receive are going to the clinic regardless, ideally we will reach our goal here but we are building that clinic – come what may!
The impact of this project is huge, as there are zero services at present, the fact that the community will finally have access to a real working clinic is astronomical. What’s special about this project is it really helps with every aspect of life in the area. It helps the local population to be able to gain access to services that do not exist and get their animals to a real vet. Not only that but it will be a service that is either free, or easy to afford – this is going to take a huge weight off any pet owners shoulders, especially those that are already just surviving off very low incomes. It, of course, is going to have a massive impact on the thousands of dogs and cats in the area who have been denied access to vital services and it directly helps to save the important and amazing wildlife of Costa Rica.
A donation to this project means helping animal conservation and saving endangered species, helping get the dogs and cats of the region proper pet care and allows the people of this community to not have to make a tough, but very real decision, of helping their pets in times of need, or feeding their families.
Working with the community, for the community:
We interviewed nearly 100 people in this area during our last 2 spay/neuter campaigns. We wanted to see what their challenges really were, how they felt about taking their pets to a vet, or if they’d even be able to and what the problems in the area were. There is no point running a campaign like this without actually involving and talking to the people who live there and whose lives are immediately effected by this. You can see the results of this survey here.
There is no reason why people’s beloved pets should have to suffer or not have access to essential care due to financial or geographical barriers. You can see just one important story of why this clinic is so vital in the video below. This singular case of hundreds is alone reason enough for this clinic to be built.
Why it is so important to help domestic animals to help wildlife:
Human related causes are resulting in the depopulation of thousands of animal species. Whilst we can clearly correlate the issues of deforestation, roads, power cables, etc. with the loss of many different wild populations we often don’t consider the impact of our furry family members. Cats are well known for predating on many animal species, but did you know they have already caused the extinction of 63 species? Then we have to consider dogs, because whilst we may be aware they can cause issues with farm animals to deer, in countries like Costa Rica they are the second leading cause of death in wild sloths. Dogs now threaten nearly 200 species worldwide and attack and kill many wild animals in Costa Rica and other countries. This is why it is so important to have good control of the population, uncontrolled it is going to result in the mass extinction of many special wild animal species.
With the unfortunate combination of an overpopulation of cats & dogs, and a complete lack of essential medical services such as deworming and vaccinations – this is not healthy for any domestic animal population. Add this to the proximity to wildlife, we find that there are many species of animals (monkeys, foxes, raccoons, jaguars, etc.) that are being cross infected with viruses. This is a death sentence for any animal without proper treatment and easily avoidable with a vaccination.
Risks & Challenges:
Our biggest challenge in this area is how remote it is. We will have to bring in supplies from the surrounding area, which could up our costs. This is why it was important to add a buffer of £5000 in our cost breakdown as we suspect there will be something that crops up as an unavoidable extra cost.
Another challenge is that we ourselves will not be on the ground full time to oversee this project when it starts to be built as we are around 5 and a half hours away. We will be going back and forth periodically but it will be challenging for us not to be there the entire time.
Thankfully we have full support from all the local organisations in the area and we are not doing this alone. We are working closely with local government and other foundations on the ground to achieve this, so even though we will not be there full time, our trusted partners and the local organisations we are working with, will be. It is extremely important for us to work directly with the community and local organisations as we can achieve so much more together than we could ever do alone.
The Organisations We Are Working With:
ASVO – one of the biggest volunteer organisations in Costa Rica.
SENASA Costa Rica – The vets and team we work with on our spay/neuter clinics are from SENASA – a Costa Rican government authority that deals with the protection of domestic animals.