Friday, March 7, 2008

Cats and dogs and Cisco's Amigos

The operating room at work...

Post-Op volunteers at work....

La Manzanilla, Jalisco, Mexico -- Interesting things seem to happen to people who travel to this part of the world on vacation.

First, pretty much everyone falls in love with the natural beauty of the Pacific Coast of Mexico.

Second, tourists familiar with Florida, the Gulf Coast or the West Coast, are generally stunned at how inexpensive it can be to visit here.

Third, and most interesting to me as a former resident of other tourists' enclaves on U.S. coasts, is that the kind of people attracted to LaManzanilla, Tenacatitia, Barra De Navidad and similar towns, almost always get involved in the local community. I'd like to think it is the good old American can-do spirit at work, and it probably is so long as we remind ourselves that Canadians and Mexicans are Americans too.
I don't recall seeing this sort of effort in Florida, though I am sure it must happen.

This past week, for the fifth year in a row, the expatriates who live or visit The Costa Alegre in Mexico conducted an animal spay/neuter clinic for the local region's pets and strays. Working cooperatively with veterinarians from all over Mexico, they have been rounding up stray beach dogs, feral cats that prowl the garbage cans at night, and any other pet that any person would like to bring in. The event is called Cisco's Amigos, and a report on the effort this year can be found at:

Michael's "pet" cat, a wary target

Even disguising this trap loaded with stinky fish did not work...

For some of the animals, it may not be fun to wake up with stitches in your tummy, or other parts, but they also get kind and gentle treatment and chance at a longer life, thanks to the scores of volunteers working to keep the population of animals under control.
Beach dogs are so common here they are even considered a breed, adapted to the local environment. Generally they are medium in size, lean and short-haired. They are rarely threatening, as they seem to survive by being moderately friendly and kissing up to patrons of seaside restaraunts.
A friend who has been building a small beach house in an isolated are has had three to keep him company. They hang around, bark at strangers that approach his property, and make the place look occupied when he is away. They are not his dogs, generally living off garbage they find at night, though he feeds them sometimes. They are beach dogs, similar in appearance to hundreds you can see in the villages and beaches nearby. A friendly beach dog will allow a human to pet him or her. After all, they are dogs.

Mario and one of his beach dogs.....

Feral cats are different. Almost all are small, cute and very wary of getting too close. The cats that adopted our hosts here come to the door every morning and night, and meow for food and a little attention. But you don't pet these cats unless you want to see one leap a fence, or nip your fingers. But the image of a feral animal as vicious does not apply. These are still cute kitty cats.
In the neighborhoods you can see them by the score early in the evenings, as they start making their rounds, doing whatever it is cats do.

Sleeping it off after surgery....

The event was a great success, thanks to volunteers like Pat, but there are still a lot of cats and dogs out there if you would like to help out next year.

My favorite volunteer, taking a break...

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