Friday, October 2, 2009

This week's interview: Rocío from Costa Rica

In my weekly blogs interview, I continue my Latin American tour, this time in Costa Rica, where I will interview Rocío to talk about a serious topic, not related directly (though yes indirectly) with tourism but definitely with our responsibilities as human beings: Animal welfare.

Alfonso: Hi Rocío, amongst your several interests, you seem to be very interested in animal welfare. How did you develop this interest?

Hello Alfonso, well, ever since I was little I showed a special concern about how some animals get mistreated and put in a very unfortunate position due to people’s irresponsibility and lack of consciousness. As I grew older I held stronger to this beliefs as I realized that it’s not only peoples responsibility’s but also governments play a very important part, not implementing stronger laws and not focusing on educating society.
And this passion became much stronger as my family and I began to experience the enormous gratification that rescuing a stray animal gives you, especially after you see the changes they go through and how much they appreciate that last chance given by life and their will to survive.

Alfonso: You decided to join an organization called APASFA? Why did you do that? What is this organization responsible for?
APASFA is a non-profit organization located on one of the central valley provinces, focused in the welfare and support of homeless, injured and neglected domestic animals. I decided to support them after last year’s earthquake, when I found out that they were one of the few organizations who spent time and resources rescuing and relocating the dozens of animals, victims of the catastrophe.

Alfonso: How does this organization work? For instance, where do they get their funding from?

APASFA basically supports itself through donations and funds they collect from adoption and weekly castration campaigns at very low prices for the general population.

Alfonso: What are the most important projects that they are developing?

Right now their goal is to continue with these campaigns, in as many communities as possible, and expand an educational program for children, in all the different schools of the communities where the campaigns take place. They are also trying to collect funds to start an appropriate animal medical transportation and clinic/shelter, where they can keep all the rescued animals until they get recovered and relocated.
At this moment all of these animals are being kept in homes of good hearted people that support the cause, but this is not being enough compared to the amount of sufferers.

Alfonso: What kind of projects are now engaging in?

As a mentioned before, the main focus are both the adoption/relocation and castration campaigns for both homeless and domestic cats and dogs. There is also a project they began, called “Animal Rescue”, which consists of a group of volunteers, brave men and women who rescue neglected, abandoned animal. Mostly domestic, but in some cases wild animals are being helped as well.
Most of these animals used to belong to a house, but then got thrown out for several unjustified reasons or got an abusive treatment from their previous owners. Among these we find everything from puppies, elderly, sick pets, pregnant cats and dogs, some have been tied up their entire lives and manage to run away, and some have even been maliciously abused by street criminals or ran over as they wonder on the streets looking for food and shelter. They are also engaging in some educational campaigns; but require more funds and material to continue with this idea.

Alfonso: Are there any similar associations?

There are several associations in San Jose and other parts of the country, but still doesn’t seem to be enough to stop or even control the situation.
Unfortunately, as solutions may come in small dosages, there are also other problems that emerge, since some of the organizations get lost on the way to providing help and forget to continue their work as a NON PROFIT entity. So, as they miss their original focus and goals, the funds begin to be misused and the help, in many cases does not reach the ones in need.

Here I provide some examples of other organizations that support this cause and help homeless animals:
**All of these groups and shelters survive thanks to the help and donations of the general public, since the government provides no funds for this particular crisis.

Alfonso: Is animal welfare a serious problem in Costa Rica? If so, why?

There is a big problem in Costa Rica, right now there are more than 1.000.000 homeless dogs and cats wondering in our streets, living in less than humane conditions. The main reason for this is because the population does not create any awareness regarding the importance of responsible animal ownership, birth control, and respect of their lives and needs, as living beings. There is also an enormous lack of education towards both children and adults and specially because the laws are so weak and breakable, there is absolutely no control from the authorities as there is no consequences for the responsible of neglecting animal lives, but most importantly, there is no such thing as Government Consciousness towards this big concern.
Also, the problem is not only affecting domestic animals, wildlife also suffers the costs of illegal hunting, black markets and abuse. That is why I strongly believe that it’s time to spread the word, and maybe with a little support from others we can start taking actions and finding solutions for this very sad situation, that has become larger and larger, not only in Costa Rica but in many parts of the world.
I really want to thank you for your time; before I go I would like to show you some interesting videos that support both side of the topic: Good will and support; and lack of consciousness and ignorance.

Help for the Ones in Need:
The Guillermo Habacuc Case:

Alfonso: Thank you very much for having taken the time to tell us about your projects. All the best!
Thanks Again!

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