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PATA Manzanillo... helping animals for human health

by Terry Sovil


PATA is an acronym for "Personas Ayudando a Todo los Animales" or loosely translated "People Helping All Animals". If your concern is people, not animals, you wonder why recent events aren't more important than animals and you have a legitimate concern! PATA is not an animal rights group but a concerned group that approaches public health care by trying to limit the number of loose animals in Manzanillo.

Stan BurnettStan Burnett, the current PATA president, had this to say: "Particularly in times of such great human suffering like in Chile, Haiti and other places some people want to know how one can waste their time sterilizing animals when there is so much human suffering out there. One of our arguments for working with the animals is that helping the sick and weak animals and trying to help control the population is really a human health issue. Sickly animals on the street and packs of street dogs are a health issue along with the excrement on the street."

Consider estimates that Manzanillo may have up to 16,000 homeless dogs and cats loose on the streets. These animals are hit by cars, sometimes poisoned or die of natural causes and then left on the street. The excrement they produce (up to 2,000+ liters per day) has to go somewhere. It ends up on our streets, in beaches and rivers. This is a health concern. Recall that in any natural disaster the concern quickly shifts from search and rescue to search and recovery to tend the dead and avert a major health hazard.

Volunteer T-ShirtPATA is unique to Manzanillo. Yes, there are similar groups around Mexico but not PATA. The first spay and neuter clinic in Manzanillo was in March 2006 and was a 3-day event. Since then 5-day events have become standard. They are "High-Volume, Free Spay/Neuter Clinics". The professional list of volunteers for this year's March 2010 clinic included: One doctor and 3 techs from Houston, TX; one veterinarian from Maryland, USA; one tech from England; two doctors from Mexico City and three doctors from Manzanillo. What are the results? About 275 cats and dogs were sterilized in March 2010. In 2009 there were a total of 831 animals treated. Inception-to-date PATA has sterilized 2,249 animals! These animals no longer contribute to an over-population of loose dogs and cats.

About a year and a half ago they introduced a One-Day Mini-Clinic. There have been over 20 so far with 15-26 animals done per day. For these events they target a specific area on a map and then move to a new targeted area for the next one. The mini-clinics have been highly successful and they try to have two per month.

PATA is considered to be a Mexican group, not just one for foreign volunteers. There are three local doctors that work on spaying and neutering with 8-10 active participants. Three to four are ex-pats but the rest are Mexican. During large 5-day events they reach out to various Manzanillo civic and social groups for volunteer support.

PATA VolunteersStan chokes up a bit as he describes the volunteer work as and the many touched by it. This year two volunteers witnessed a dog hit by a car on the way to the clinic. They brought the injured dog to the clinic. The doctors worked on the animal and stabilized it. The two volunteers returned to the area where the dog was hit and located the owner. They returned with the owner to reunite with the dog. The dog will get follow-up care from a local veterinarian. Stan estimated about one-third of the clinics have similar stories including one where a small boy brought his sick chicken. The doctors, though not experts on chickens, looked at the bird for the boy.

Stan also talked about five Secondary School Students that volunteer. Two want to become veterinarians and one is from a family of limited income. PATA is working on some sort of scholarship to help this individual get into school. Stan commented that "one more compassionate veterinarian can only help" with the work done by PATA.

Web Site Background:

  • Facebook ; Twitter; PATA's blog
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