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Far too many strays, city official admits, as sterilization campaigns continue

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Strays in the Amapolita neighborhood. Photo: Amigos de Rico

Mérida, Yucatán — No official figures exist on the number of stray dogs and cats roaming the city. But to the municipal deputy director of health, there are far too many.

“Clearly we can realize the size of the problem when walking in the street,” said Antonio Peraza Valdés, while exhorting citizens to be responsible pet owners.

The stray animal population grows as domestic dogs and cats are abandoned by their owners, he said.

While some residents feed strays — in Los Héroes, there is an organized group effort — others take “extreme measures” by leaving poison for them.

The city last year sterilized 1,500 cats and dogs, and in its remaining time in office, the current administration aims to spay and neuter another 1,000, he said.

Volunteers providing medical services to household pets are moving forward with their own sterilization programs although government support was withdrawn.

Relying on private donations, Amigos de Rico, Planned Pethood Mexico and AFAD are two hosting spay and neuter clinics.

The first is Sunday, Jan. 21, in Col. Amapolita/Chenku, a neighborhood in Mérida. In just five hours, the clinic booked 200 appointments, with many more animals turned away.

Dr. Jeff Young, Dr. Tony Rios with veterinarians from the Philippines, Mexico City, Villa Hermosillo, Quintana Roo and Merida along with an army of volunteers are working closely with residents.

The second clinic is Sunday, Jan. 28, in Flamboyanes, with a goal of treating 100 animals.

About $25 US is sufficient for each dog or cat. To volunteer or donate, contact Sara Bateman at sara_bateman@hotmail.com or visit the Facebook page for Amigos de Rico.

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