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To work with animal organizations in Coyhaique, Chile to provide a free sterilization clinic so dogs and cats are not needlessly euthanized.

The Patagonian Foundation (TPF) is providing funding for local Chilean animal organizations REYPA and RIMA to provide free dog and cat sterilization clinics in Coyhaique, Chile. In 2007, the local government of Coyhaique embarked upon a "euthaniasia" policy to help control the pet overpopulation problem. In response to citizen and tourist concerns, the government has adopted this policy because it gives the appearance of immediate results. However, as studies consistently show, this is far from the truth. Studies show that euthanasia leads to an eventual increase of animal populations as there is less competition for the available resources (“Guidelines for Dog Population Management”, World Health Organization, 1990). Therefore, this policy, while temporarily effective, will lead to a larger pet population problem – instead of a long-term solution. The dangers and concerns of pet overpopulation are many: disease; noise; fecal pollution; car accidents; scavenging of garbage cans; dog bite; and loss of tourism dollars. Due to regional circumstances, TPF is most concerned with the environmental and tourism impacts of pet overpopulation on this area of Chile. Coyhaique is the capital seat of the Aysen region of Chile. Tourism is one of the main sources of income for Coyhaique residents. Tourism in this region (which focuses on activities such as trekking, fly-fishing, rock climbing and mountaineering) can only flourish if the regional environment is protected. The pet overpopulation threatens the environment through the spread of disease and garbage. Accordingly, bringing this problem under control is essential to retain the regional way of life that has become so reliant upon the natural environment. Controlling pet overpopulation will improve public health and the environment by decreasing the spread of disease and diminishing the spread of trash in the streets. This project is the first of its kind in this region, and TPF hopes that it will serve as an example that can be implemented throughout Patagonia. TPF and REYPA Coyhaique are thrilled to announce that in July 2007 they completed their third round of animal sterilizations. Continuing a project launched in December 2006 (when we sterilized 280 dogs and cats), this July TPF, the Coyhaique Health Department, REYPA Coyhaique and RIMA joined forces to successully sterilize 300 dogs and cats in Coyhaique. These surgeries occur in community centers located in some of Coyhaique's poorest neighborhoods. The sterilizations, which are in high demand, are awarded by the Health Department to individuals based on financial need. In addition to surgeries, the project also provides a wealth of information to the community regarding pet care, the importance of sterilizations, and the responsibility of pet ownership. We are very thankful to the Health Department, which contributed critical financial support, volunteers, and guidance, and the volunteers and surgeons from REYPA and RIMA who make this project possible. We hope to complete one round of sterilizations every 90 days with the ultimate goal of sterilizing 60-70% of the pet and stray population in Coyhaique. At this percentage, studies have shown that the population stabilizes and a healthy balance returns to the overall pet population.

1. 1. The pet and stray dog and cat populations are too high and need to be stabilized.

2. 2. Euthanasia is not a viable option as it ultimately does not achieve a stable population and is a needless practice.

3. 3. Developing this program will lead to a model that can be implemented with other cities and regions facing pet overpopulation concerns.