116 dogs and cats fixed in Paccha June 13 and 14

This past weekend we were in Paccha, a  community about 30 minutes outside of Cuenca.  We usually have three Vets working the clinics..yes, they all work both days.  This time we had four vets on Sunday!  It was great because it allowed us to finish about 5:30.

We all feel good about having helped 116 dogs and cats including very large, beautiful female

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Cuenca Bitches raise $1300

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Happy Dogs Fundraiser Nets $1300 for Care of Local Dogs
By Lynda Moore
I have never seen so many bitches in one place! Now, I must admit, it’s not a word that I like to use, but these were “Cuenca Bitches” who gathered on June 8th for a fundraising luncheon at San Sebas Cafe. The group is the fundraising arm of Happy Dogs, or HDiC, an organization formed in 2012 that provides neutering and spaying services to those who would otherwise never have their dogs fixed. “The clinics are in poor areas. Each dog is fixed for about 30 dollars. “We could not do this without donations and volunteers,” said Happy Dog founder Inge Palmer, 64, of Temecula, CA.
The event at San Sebas, which involved more than 50 women, raised closed to $1300, according to Palmer, who moved to Cuenca in 2011 with her husband, Neil.
Palmer says initially she met a woman named Ketzel Levine who was taking dogs out of shelters and trying to sterilize them. Before she left Cuenca, Ms. Levine was instrumental in setting up the first-ever clinic where 12 dogs were fixed. Palmer says the Cuenca dog owners were told, “We will teach you English and your payment is to get your animal fixed.”

In the early days, Palmer was known as the woman who cared about controlling the dog population of this beautiful colonial city. People would literally give her cash donations in the streets!
She and Neil, before setting up their own clinics, would take some dogs to veterinarian Cristina Bernardi, 31, who, then and now, does voluntary surgery at ARCA, Fundación Protectora de Animales.
Dr. Bernardi, who has been a vet for a decade, leads the Happy Dogs’ surgical team. She says ten years ago, the scene here in Cuenca was very different. “Nobody was taking care of stray dogs. Those who had dogs considered them simply ‘guards of the house’ and not family.” Now Dr. Bernardi says attitudes are slowing evolving. To what does she attribute the change? “The work of all the foundations and social media where people who abuse animals are often held accountable.”
Dr. Bernardi, who generously donates her time and skills, makes an income teaching veterinary surgery at the University of Cuenca. She notes that there are other signs of progress. “In many parks, dog owners are reminded, through signs that are posted, to pick up after their dogs and to have them on leashes,” she said.
As far as neutering and spaying, the macho Latino culture, does not lend itself to equal treatment of male and female canines. “They normally spay the female but do not neuter males,” admits Dr. Bernardi. So how do you change that mindset? “I lie to them,” she says jokingly.
In some cases, the male dog may have a sexually transmitted disease or even tumors in his testicles or prostate and so, of course, Dr. Bernardi recommends neutering. “I talk with the owners and I normally win,” she said.
What a difference three years make! Each clinic generally manages to neuter and spay 125 dogs in a weekend utilizing the expertise of 3 veterinarians, and about 15-20 volunteers who spend 10-12 hours each day. A community will donate a space—maybe a church, community center or even a home. “Sometimes it’s the size of a ballroom, other times it’s the size of a bathroom,” said Palmer.
Karen Cornell of Boise, Idaho, administers the anesthesia for Dr. Bernardi. She’s been doing it since Happy Dogs began. “All of our animals are treated so humanely, not just anesthetized so that they don’t move but also so that they don’t feel any pain,” said Cornell.
The animals are given IVs and intubated with a breathing tube. The operation for the males generally lasts about 5 minutes. The surgery is fairly simple –the testicles are removed. Females, who undergo total hysterectomies, take a bit longer — about 8 minutes–and both males and females are given small incisions. The dogs are then put in diapers for post-op treatment that includes having their nails clipped. After that, they transition to another area with blankets where they eventually awaken. The entire process takes from ninety minutes to two hours per dog. The dogs are given antibiotics, vitamins and a prescription for pain medication before they leave.
Inge Palmer says the goal is to do 1300 surgeries this year. “We’ve already done 550. We generally do a clinic per month but two clinics per month are planned for both July and September,” she notes. Eight hundred of those surgeries, Palmer says, are paid for by the municipality and 500 by Happy Dogs.
Donations are wholeheartedly accepted and encouraged. Simply send an email to Inge Palmer at HappyDogsinCuenca@gmail.com, and she will arrange to meet you.

Lynda J. Moore is a veteran journalist and former ABC News Radio Correspondent. A love of film peaked her interest, and she recently did graduate work in Film Production at New York University. Lynda eventually wants to make a film or documentary in Spanish. She hopes to use Cuenca for her base of operations as she continues to explore the world, its people and different cultures.

Cuencana Rosa Crespo Arízaga studied English at the American Language Communication Center Institute in New York City. She teaches Spanish and English for public and private schools in the region. Rosa studied ballet for a few years and loves dance, ballet and body language. In her spare time, she likes to write poetry. Rosa was Lynda’s Spanish teacher. They share cultural interests, including writing and film.

Make your Reservations today

Hello Friends,
Paladar is hosting a dinner for Happy Dogs in Cuenca!

Please see their invitation below.

We want to improve the lives of dogs and cats in Cuenca and you can help. We decided to have a benefit dinner to raise funds for Happy Dogs in Cuenca. As you know, Happy Dogs in Cuenca is an organization, staffed by volunteers, that holds free spay and neuter clinics in various Cuenca neighborhoods. (See the Cuenca Highlife article, June 7, 2015.)

Please help make a difference in the overpopulation of dogs and cats in Cuenca by joining us Friday, June 19th for the Happy Dogs in Cuenca Benefit Dinner (see menu/time/price below). Your donation will help sponsor These needed clinics. Every dollar helps this worthy cause. Volunteers will be in attendance so you can hear more about what they do.

Would you like one of our dining rooms renamed for your four-legged kid? For a donation of $50, we will create a door banner with your name, the name of your pet, and a photo, either “In Memory of” or “In Honor of.” We will post the banner over the door of the dining room. Ricardo and I will be sponoring one of our dining rooms, in memory of our little buddy Taz, whom we lost May 5th. We only have 8 dining rooms…so please join in and sponsor one quickly. Even if you cannot attend the dinner, you can sponsor one of the dining rooms. To sponsor a room, please reply by email and we will work out getting names and photos.. If you just want to make a donation to Happy Dogs in Cuenca in honor of your pet, that would be great, too. Send an email to info@paladarsdinnerclub.com or call 099-820-3586 to sponsor your room or to arrange for a donation if you can not attend the benefit dinner.

Umberto Ballone is donating his talents and will perform in each of our dining rooms. If you have not had the pleasure of hearing his golden baritone voice, then you are in for a real treat.

The evening includes a delicious 3-course meal, entertainment by Umberto Ballone, visiting with wonderful people, and helping eliminate the overpopulation of dogs and cats. The price is only $25 and $15 will go directly to Happy Dogs in Cuenca.

The menu for the evening: vegetarian option available……planned menu is gluten-free.

1st Course: Tomato Basil Soup

Main Course: Teriyaki Chicken breast (chicken breast is seared, drizzled with a teriyaki mixture, covered in cheese, chives and bacon then baked). Served with garlic mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli.

Dessert: Key Lime Pie. (Gluten free guests….baked cinnamon apples slices with rolled oats/walnut streusel)

Vegetarian Guests…..Main Course with be Vegetarian Korma (mixed vegetables in a curry tomato based sauce).

Together we can help make a difference in unwanted dogs and cats in Cuenca. Join us for the “Meet and Greet” at 5:30. Dinner will be served at 6:30’ish. Although we love our 4-legged kids, please, for obvious reasons, only we humans can attend. Reservations can be made at http://www.paladarsdinnerclub.com or by emailing info@paladarsdinnerclub.com.

in CuencaPlease see their invitation below.

We want to improve the lives of dogs and cats in Cuenca and you can help. We decided to have a benefit dinner to raise funds for Happy Dogs in Cuenca. As you know, Happy Dogs in Cuenca is an organization, staffed by volunteers, that holds free spay and neuter clinics in various Cuenca neighborhoods. (See the Cuenca Highlife article, June 7, 2015.)

Please help make a difference in the overpopulation of dogs and cats in Cuenca by joining us Friday, June 19th for the Happy Dogs in Cuenca Benefit Dinner (see menu/time/price below). Your donation will help sponsor These needed clinics. Every dollar helps this worthy cause. Volunteers will be in attendance so you can hear more about what they do.

Would you like one of our dining rooms renamed for your four-legged kid? For a donation of $50, we will create a door banner with your name, the name of your pet, and a photo, either “In Memory of” or “In Honor of.” We will post the banner over the door of the dining room. Ricardo and I will be sponoring one of our dining rooms, in memory of our little buddy Taz, whom we lost May 5th. We only have 8 dining rooms…so please join in and sponsor one quickly. Even if you cannot attend the dinner, you can sponsor one of the dining rooms. To sponsor a room, please reply by email and we will work out getting names and photos.. If you just want to make a donation to Happy Dogs in Cuenca in honor of your pet, that would be great, too. Send an email to info@paladarsdinnerclub.com or call 099-820-3586 to sponsor your room or to arrange for a donation if you can not attend the benefit dinner.

Umberto Ballone is donating his talents and will perform in each of our dining rooms. If you have not had the pleasure of hearing his golden baritone voice, then you are in for a real treat.

The evening includes a delicious 3-course meal, entertainment by Umberto Ballone, visiting with wonderful people, and helping eliminate the overpopulation of dogs and cats. The price is only $25 and $15 will go directly to Happy Dogs in Cuenca.

The menu for the evening: vegetarian option available……planned menu is gluten-free.

1st Course: Tomato Basil Soup

Main Course: Teriyaki Chicken breast (chicken breast is seared, drizzled with a teriyaki mixture, covered in cheese, chives and bacon then baked). Served with garlic mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli.

Dessert: Key Lime Pie. (Gluten free guests….baked cinnamon apples slices with rolled oats/walnut streusel)

Vegetarian Guests…..Main Course with be Vegetarian Korma (mixed vegetables in a curry tomato based sauce).

Together we can help make a difference in unwanted dogs and cats in Cuenca. Join us for the “Meet and Greet” at 5:30. Dinner will be served at 6:30’ish.

Although we love our 4-legged kids, please, for obvious reasons, only we humans can attend.

Reservations can be made at http://www.paladarsdinnerclub.com or by emailing info@paladarsdinnerclub.com.

Happier dogs in Cuenca by Scott Fugit

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Happier Dogs in Cuenca: Free spay and neuter clinics, and lots of volunteers, are making a difference in the lives of pets and people
We stepped through the open concrete entry into a dimly lit crowded room. Small groups of people surrounded stainless-steel tables while standing in fur and bandages. Others held flashlights high. The air was heavy with many odors, something like the carne section at the local mercado, plus wet dog. We had just entered the front-line battle in the campaign to reduce pet overpopulation in Cuenca.

Happy Dogs in Cuenca was in action. It was their 10th free spay and neuter clinic and 16 dedicated volunteers were riding herd.

The pet-population formulas vary. Depending on the breed and other factors, a healthy female dog can have two litters a year, with one to 12 pups per litter. Each surviving pup, before they are a year old, can do the same – it’s not hard to see the problem.

Inge Palmer, the founder of Happy Dogs in Cuenca, saw the realities of the city’s dog population during her first trip here in 2011. “The need for a sustainable spay and neuter program in Cuenca was obvious. But the cultural roadblocks, family economics, and the absence of local veterinary care all posed challenges.” Proven need met determination, and a love for animals. Palmer formed Dos Amigas with a friend, which morphed into Happy Dogs in Cuenca in June 2012. Initially taking several dogs at a time to a vet, she knew it was only a start.

“Transportation was a major problem for neighborhood pet owners. We had to get mobile. In March 2013, we held our first weekend clinic in Los Trigales and started taking our services to the people.” After nearly a dozen similar efforts in numerous outlying barrios, Happy Dogs in Cuenca has now completed nearly 1,000 spays and neuters. As those involved in the effort say, it’s not ovary yet.

Work starts the afternoon before. Several cars and trucks full of equipment pull up at the community-provided location, often a church, a community hall, or even a private home. The clinic has been announced at community events, notices posted with contact information, and appointments made on a first-come basis. Usually with little light, sometimes without water, the spaces are “very simple but adequate,” is a generous description.

The first step is always a thorough cleaning before set-up begins. And there is gear, lots of it: tables for prep and surgery, sterilizer, gauze, and other cloth supplies, instrument kits and medicines, garbage cans, blankets, etc. The complete set-up takes several hours, the same for breakdown and cleanup once it’s all over. With the 100-120 surgeries, it adds up to a lot of work over a weekend, done at an intense pace.

“Originally there were five of us with one surgeon,” says Palmer. “We now run three operating tables with a crew of sixteen. Each and every one of them is a dedicated hundred-percent volunteer.”

Amid the constant activity, conversation turns to the dogs of Cuenca. “It’s often difficult to tell if the street dogs have owners or not,” says Dee Fugit, clinic visitor and retired after 25 years at the Idaho Humane Society in Boise, Idaho. She is in Cuenca vacationing for the second time.

“They lounge on the sidewalk in front of a tienda, or they’re cruising like they know exactly where they’re going. Rarely do they have collars or tags,” Dee says. “Who knows what their situation is? They possess amazing street smarts, at least the survivors do. I even saw a cat crossing the street with the crowd, in the crosswalk.”

Cuenca also has a healthy population of pampered pooches. The lucky ones are very lucky. It’s not hard to find toy breeds in little outfits being carried through the mercadoor Plaza del Flores. “The small breeds seem to fare the best,” says Fugit. “If they’re a cute Shih Tzu or a small white poodle mix, their chances look pretty good for a pampered life.”

Outside the clinic, the waiting group of owners and pets is growing. Intake is stage one. Each dog is weighed and a medical history recorded. They get a number and a sticker. A local student volunteer is the important point man. In his native Spanish, he carefully explains the process to each pet owner, often a family.

“Half our volunteers are gringos, but having local Ecuadorians involved is particularly important.” As she talks, Palmer carefully helps with a small terrier as part of stage two, pre-op. The animal will get an IV and be intubated using a breathing tube. “Our local volunteers help us bridge cultural gaps and give confidence to pet owners about what we do.” Once the sedative is administered, Palmer gently moves the terrier to the operating table. “Without our Ecuadorian volunteers, Happy Dogs would not be possible,” she says.

Compared with many places in the world, Cuenca’s environment is favorable to strays. There’s warm weather, plentiful green spaces, and most importantly, food. With street vendors, outdoor mercados, public eateries, and occasionally edible trash, some dogs can afford to be picky. A small piece of coconut is ignored, while roast pork earns a companion for three blocks. But competition always develops, and then problems occur, such as fog fights, sanitation issues, mating behavior, and bite cases involving people. With more dogs come more problems. Enter Happy Dogs in Cuenca.

Back inside, a dozen animals are under care in the five-stage process. Something different is happening in every corner. At HDiC, time is money — hard-earned donated money. So after careful preparation, surgery is next, and quickly. But are 120 surgeries possible in a weekend? With just three surgeons?

Need spawns innovation. Christina Bernardi, Doctor of Veterinary Science at University of Cuenca, leads the clinic’s surgical team. “We use a side-entry technique for spays on all cats, plus medium-sized and smaller dogs. A small incision is made in front of the hip, usually on the left side. It’s common in Peru and Argentina,” she says.

Average time per surgery is eight minutes compared to the traditional 45. Less drugs are used and the animal’s recovery time is quicker. This means that, after fur is cleaned and brushed, nails are clipped, and they’re given antibiotics, vitamins, and a prescription for pain meds, the pets are going home with their owners. Two hours to a happier dog.

How about the boy dogs? Ouch. Sensitive question. Of course, local culture complicates both spay and neuter efforts. “Most dog owners here have never considered altering their pet,” says Palmer. “Our efforts are also educational.” But the fact is, HDiC neuters very few male dogs. “The local men cannot stand to see it. Culturally, it’s a radical act.”

Fugit adds, “Honestly, it’s not much different in the U.S. As part of my job, I explained the benefits of fixing male dogs — like avoiding hundreds of puppies, minimizing health problems, and improving aggressive behavior. I always told the owners, ‘It’s a dog, not you.’ Here in Ecuador, I’ve recently had five conversations defending neutering. Four of those discussions were with Americans, and all were men.” When it comes to neutering their male dogs, as those involved in the effort say, men can get “teste.”

As in everything these days, there is a bottom line. Palmer says, “We go to poor areas where people could never afford to fix their pets, and we do it for about thirty dollars per surgery. It’s all based on donations and volunteers, so we always need more of both. We’ve formed new committees, like gauze folding, a fundraising group called ‘Cuenca Bitches,’ and the comida committee to organize clinic meals for volunteers.” She concludes, “There is always need, but we are truly grateful and amazed to have come this far.”

It’s mid-afternoon before the clinic crew takes a break. They will do another 30 surgeries after lunch. As we say our goodbyes and drive away, a local man lowers his groggy shepherd into the bed of an old Ford pickup. He smiles broadly and waves.

Passing through the outskirts of northeast Cuenca, we count 15 dogs. Three of them are chasing a small boy on a battered bike. We agree that the task that HDiC faces seems overwhelming. Still, the city’s street-dog populations are “already much better than when we started.” We have heard it repeatedly. It’s obvious that optimistic determination, plus a true love for animals, form the heart of the effort. At Happy Dogs in Cuenca, they always keep the main goal in mind: to improve the lives of Cuenca’s pets and people.

Happy Dogs in Cuenca appreciates your support. Please help fund their efforts using the donate button at their website: https://happydogsincuenca.wordpress.com/about/.

For mofe information,email Inge Palmer at happydogsincuenca@gmail.com, or Scott Fugit at fugit@mindspring.com.

May 16 and 17

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Happy Dogs in Cuenca (HDiC) volunteers worked hard in cooperation with ARCA at this past weekend’s El Vecino clinic. Completely free spay and neuter surgeries were performed on 124 dogs and cats. While HDiC normally funds these surgeries, those performed this weekend were paid for by the Municipality under its recently enacted sterilization campaign. HDiC is proud to provide many of the volunteers needed at these Municipality clinics.

When the Municipality-funded clinics end, HDiC will continue holding and funding clinics through 2015. Subsequent HDiC clinics will depend on donations. Each two day event presently costs between $2,500 and $3,000 and with the veterinarians becoming faster with every clinic — enabling us to do more surgeries — more surgeries means more expenses.

If your heart twists every time you see a starving, frightened dog in the street, and wish you could do SOMEthing, please consider supporting HDiC’s efforts with a cash donation to keep these free sterilization clinics going. Thanks much!

Inge

125 dogs and cats fixed!!! In April

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image Happy Dogs in Cuenca and ARCA spayed and neutered 125 dogs and cats this past weekend. Our volunteers did all the work, and the Municipality of Cuenca paid the bill for all the supplies this time. HDiC is proud to have held three other clinics already this year (300 spays and neuters) and we already have other clinics scheduled. The number of clinics we can hold depends on how much support we receive from you. Please find it in your hearts to help stop the unwanted litters that end up on the streets fending for themselves. The shelters are packed and there is no place for these poor animals. You may donate via PayPal at happydogsincuenca@gmail.com Thanks very much from the paws and claws of Cuenca

CUENCA BITCHES

Cuenca Bitches

Who are the Cuenca Bitches? Founded in 2014, a group of women in Cuenca, Ecuador met for the purpose of supporting animals in need of spaying & neutering. From that initial gathering, attendees created a Women’s Society and gave it a proactive name to capture attention of prospective new members everywhere. To become a bitch, you join the Society and contribute funds to meet our goal: To Spay or Neuter 500 “Furry” Bitches a year

What do the Cuenca Bitches do?

Drink Wine.  Eat Chocolate. Attend several socials a year and bring another ‘bitch’ with you.  Our goal is to get as many bitches to participate as possible.Crowd shot Inge and Donna

Update

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Hello Friends,

First, I must apologize for not keeping everyone posted on what HDiC has been up to.

Since 2012 when HDiC began, we have held 11 clinics with a total of 850 surgeries.

We are starting 2015 out with a bang!  We had a clinic in January and February for a total of 181 surgeries. The March clinic will be held on the 28th and 29th where we have 100 surgeries planned.  It is our goal to do 500 surgeries this year.

We now have 3 Veterinarians volunteering for the clinics.  Each clinic requires the help of at least 16 volunteers to keep it flowing smoothly and to give the animals the attention they deserve.  All the volunteers are trained with many having been cross trained to work different positions and we are proud of our well-organized clinics.

We now also have a Lunch Committee.  These folks purchase food and prepare lunches for the people working the clinics.  We often work 10 hours per day so a good meal  is much appreciated.  If you live locally and would like help with this project please email me at happydogsincuenca@gmail.com.

In order to save money the gauze pads needed are folded  by our Gauze Folding Committee.  Previously these pads were prepared by Vet students and Vets. Thanks to these ladies they can spend their time studying or helping animals.

A new group has been organized to raise funds for Happy Dogs in Cuenca called Cuenca Bitches…..more details about this group later.

Thanks to everyone that supports our efforts…we couldn’t do it without your help!

Inge

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