The new leader of Cuale Clinic seeks donors; all donations MATCHED to 15 December
If you want something done, ask a busy person. Volunteers already known for their reliable
efforts supporting Puerto Vallarta animal welfare charities are natural choices to continue the work of the Cuale Spay and Neuter Clinic now that Glenda and Stephen Bland have retired.
During the Blands’ eight years as founders and Clinic coordinators, Cuale Clinic has sterilized nearly 9,000 cats and dogs – all for free. For the animalista community served by Cuale Clinic, the news of the Blands’ retirement was a one-two punch. Not only were the couple leaving their pivotal roles, and Puerto Vallarta, but, in addition, fundraising challenges and increasing costs had left little money in the bank.
Cuale Clinic has faced changes and challenges before, including two relocations, significant
operational changes during the pandemic, and a recent shift to primarily serving animalistas who bring in multiple homeless animals or rescues rather than individually owned pets. But the recent change is the Clinic’s biggest challenge.
Cuale tapped Angela Kelleher to lead the charge. Angela has been a Puerto Vallarta resident and helper for seven years. The founder of the Facebook page Vallarta Volunteers works with both animal and human charities. She has a long history of supporting spay and neuter clinics in town, including serving several years as a volunteer coordinator for Peace Animals, providing back-up registration for Colina Clinic and helping to organize and transport animals to mobile Peace and Salud clinics. “Clinic is my happy place,” says Kelleher.
Angela agreed to step up because she “feels it is critical that Cuale Clinic continue to offer its valuable and unique service” for animalistas: local residents who educate their neighbors about the need to sterilize stray and rescue cats and dogs and who bring in numerous stray cats and dogs each month to be spayed or neutered. “Cuale is an incredibly well-run operation, with proven operational and financial procedures. It serves a community no other clinic focuses on.”
Given the dire funding situation, Angela knew she needed help, and Andrea Jackson quickly stepped up. While Andrea is the team’s newcomer, moving to Puerto Vallarta from California just this past spring, she brings a long history of political and non-profit fundraising experience from her work in California state politics. “I spent some time looking at various organizations (in Vallarta). I wanted to find a volunteer experience that would make a difference, and Cuale seems the perfect fit,” Jackson said. “And Angela is good at what she does.”
Angela and Andrea are focusing first on finding large donors through social media and
face-to-face appeals. Spay and Neuter is a “smart” investment in helping the community and tackling the root of pet overpopulation issues here in Vallarta. They felt donors would be attracted to the low cost, efficient operations and significant impact mass sterilization campaigns have.
The first major donor to contribute is Paws and Claws, a U.S. charity with a long-term
commitment to helping the Isla Cuale cats. The charity offered to match donations peso for peso up to 21,000 pesos. That matching offer extends through December 15. “Urgent appeals have paid off; we received the $1,400US needed for our November Clinic, avoiding a gap in services.
But Cuale must move from crisis mode to stable funding streams,” Angela said.
Cuale runs an efficient operation. Four veterinarians, assisted by a vet tech, bilingual registration volunteers and trained recovery volunteers, work each month at the Clinic. For only $20 US, an animal can be brought to the Clinic; receive surgery, recovery supervision, nail trim and ear cleaning; and then be returned safely to their community. Because the Clinic operates under the umbrella of the US-registered non-profit Paws and Claws, donations are a deduction for U.S. taxpayers and can be made easily at their site.
While Angela and Andrea focus on fundraising, scheduling and other administrative tasks,
Joyce Nordquist and Russ Moran now head up on-site setup and recovery each month. Other key Cuale Clinic members will continue in their roles: Andrea Guerrero, Cielo Vieyra, Miriam López and Brenda Molino handle intake, and Julio Piña serves as vet tech assistant. By using an efficient approach and trained volunteers to assist veterinarian Dr. Poli and his vet team, Cuale Spay and Neuter Clinic typically sterilize 70 to 90 animals in a day at a current cost of less than 400 pesos per animal, or about $20 – less than a pet’s nail trim in the U.S.
Given that Puerto Vallarta has an estimated 100,000 feral cats and Mexico leads Latin America in stray dogs, the task could not be more urgent. Each mating pair of cats and their offspring could potentially produce 80,399,780 cats, according to the Humane Society of the United States. The numbers for dogs are nearly as dire. Along the way, those pregnant and nursing mamas and their babies face a precarious existence.
Sixty cats and dogs were sterilized at the November Clinic; while this number was low by recent Cuale Clinic standards, perhaps due to Dios de los Muertos events, the potential reduction in unsheltered cats and dogs from just that one Sunday Clinic is staggering.
“While spay-neuter work is a core task for Cuale Clinic, education is also crucial in reducing
overpopulation and providing a better life for animals. With our new team in place, the
community of volunteers, vets and animalistas created by the Blands can continue as long as people keep helping with their donations,” says Angela.