Emancipet part of historic coalition to help pets in Puerto Rico

Emancipet is one of six organizations leading the surgical work in a historic initiative to spay/neuter and vaccinate more than 20,000 dogs and cats in Puerto Rico, which is still struggling to recover more than six months after the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

A team of 16 Emancipet veterinarians and staff, including Emancipet CEO Amy Mills, deployed to Puerto Rico June 3-9 for the first of what will be four trips included in “Spayathon for Puerto Rico,” developed by the Humane Society of the United States. Emancipet is the surgical provider for the Manati sector of the island, and the organization performed 750 spay/neuter surgeries during their first trip, surpassing their goal by 250 surgeries! 

Emancipet and its staff are uniquely experienced in hurricane recovery. Its Houston clinic undertook an extraordinary effort following Hurricane Harvey, providing three months of free veterinary care to people and pets impacted by the crisis and its aftermath, including more than 1,000 spay/neuter surgeries and more than 13,500 vaccinations. Emancipet Houston branch manager DeWayne Compton, who helped manage the post-Harvey effort, will be part of the crew in Puerto Rico.

Emancipet CEO Amy Mills also has on-the-ground experience with helping people and animals after a crisis. As a volunteer, Mills had a life-changing experience following the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, where she helped families reunite families with pets lost during the storm.

“It’s an honor to be invited to be part of this tremendous coalition and to be able to make a difference where it is so desperately needed,” Mills said. “Our team established a MASH-style surgical center with brand new, state-of-the-art equipment that we shipped to Puerto Rico and set up inside a community center. Our goal was to spay or neuter at least 500 animals per trip, and we are thrilled to have surpassed that goal in our very first trip to the island.”

This initiative has a second important goal, which is to build more capacity for free and low-cost spay/neuter in Puerto Rico after the conclusion of the project. The HSUS, through a partnership with the ASPCA Spay/Neuter Alliance, is offering high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter training for Puerto Rico veterinarians to increase the number of veterinarians on the island who can safely provide these services.

In addition, at the conclusion of the 18-month project, all the surgical partners, including Emancipet, will donate their surgical equipment and supplies to local veterinarians, to help further the animal welfare efforts in Puerto Rico.

“This initiative is a remarkable example of what can happen when government agencies, nonprofits and veterinary medical professionals come together for one cause,” said Kitty Block, acting president and CEO of the HSUS. “This collaboration will make a difference and improve the welfare of Puerto Rico’s animals.”

The HSUS’ Humane State Puerto Rico program worked closely with coalition partners Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and First Lady Beatriz Rosselló, the Puerto Rico Veterinary Medical Association and the Puerto Rico Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners to sign a memorandum of understanding to implement the initiative over an 18-month period in 2018 and 2019.

The other five surgical lead partners are Veterinarians for Puerto Rico, ViDAS, Helping Paws Across Borders, the Colegio de Médicos Veterinarios de Puerto Rico and Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University. Each will be supported by a ground partner team comprised of local organizations leading the advance work of spreading the word about the available services, translating, checking in patients, and other volunteer duties not related to surgery. Emancipet’s ground partner team is the Humane Society of Puerto Rico.

The other ground partner teams are The Sato Project, Friends of Culebra Animals, Our Big Fat Caribbean Rescue, The Puerto Rico Dog Fund, The Humane Society of Puerto Rico and Wild at Heart.

Maddie’s Fund® and other non-profit organizations, including PetSmart Charities, Petco Foundation, GreaterGood.org and The 20/22 Act Society, are providing the financial support necessary to carry out this initiative. Other groups like Banfield Foundation, Best Friends Animal Society and Rescue Bank are providing critical supplies, such as vaccines, pet food and crates.

The remaining no-cost spay/neuter clinics will take place throughout the following dates:
Round 2: November 3-9, 2018 – Cabo Rojo, Ceiba, Culebra, Manati, Moca, Ponce, San Juan and Vieques
Round 3: February 3-9, 2019 – Cabo Rojo, Ceiba, Culebra, Manati, Moca, Ponce, San Juan and Vieques
Round 4: May 3-9, 2019 – Cabo Rojo, Ceiba, Culebra, Manati, Moca, Ponce and Vieques