From September to December 2008, the vegan conservation group Sea Shepherd waged a fight to protect the ecosystem and all the animals of the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. This blog recounts what happened in that time, serving for the group.
The post below describes the general argument against building an animal hospital in the Galapagos.
Argument 3: Apparent Apathy
This was the argument I heard the absolute most.
3: “Don’t you understand? Cats and dogs are the problem here and no one is going to support vet care when animals are destroying the islands!”
Everyone I talked to said there would be no support on the islands for an animal hospital; just look around and you’ll see animal suffering everywhere and nothing done about it.
I decided, I would try to make an animal hospital, but ONLY if the locals would support it. Alex taught me how it would have to be a hospital made by locals, run by locals, owned by locals, and supported by locals. That would be the only way this could work. No foreign control of it.
Solution 3: Poll for the Truth
So, friends helped me make a questionnaire, asking in Spanish if people wanted to see an animal hospital on their island. We distributed hundreds of them all over Santa Cruz island, the island that would have the first of these Galapaganean animal hospitals.
Teachers handed them out to their students and students’ parents. People gave them to NGO’s and other businesses. I went door to door all day long handing them out to policemen, office administrators, shopkeepers, restaurant workers, hotel employees, and office clerks. So many people warned me that no one would care, no one would understand, that the traditional population would never go for it. I decided, that even if a small percentage wanted it, if the core of the supporters were strong enough, that I would go ahead and make this hospital. Over the course of days, we tabulated hundreds of questionnaires, it was brutal work, but we had to find out if even a tiny number would be receptive to the idea. Finally, we got our answer.
It was absolutely unanimous. Every single person we polled wanted an animal hospital, from the police to the private businesses to the wealthy to the poor. Even people who marked that they didn’t care about animals on their questionnaires said the Galapagos still should have one. Even the people who said we shouldn’t attempt this project, still said they wanted to see it happen. The ILLUSION that there would be no support for this project, stopped people from trying.
Many more questionnaires are still being handed out, and we’re nowhere near polling as many as we’d like, but there was more than enough to say we could get started.
I met local vets who worked for the Charles Darwin Foundation for research projects, who wanted more than anything to see an animal hospital realized, and I found plenty of locals willing to help with logistics. So far, all we have is a temporary animal clinic owned by one of the vets, that we’re trying to expand, but the momentum has started on the project, and each group or individual we talk to about it is excited about the prospect of it happening.
Next week’s post will talk more about how we’re trying to get this animal hospital off the ground.