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  • Writer's pictureAaron Bartlett

Perros Libres stepping up: Spay/Neuter clinic in Tzununa!

Great news animal lovers. We are preparing our first Spay/Neuter clinic in Tzununa!

We have made arrangements with another non-profit organization that has collaborated with Erica Derrickson in raising funds for a dog (and cat) sterilization clinic in Tzununa. Perros Libres will be the official host of it, and thankfully the money has already been raised. We just will have to hire catering for food for the workers/volunteers, clean the space for it, and have cleaning help the next day after the operations. This is still plenty of work to do, but we have a targeted time: the second week of December, or the weekend leading into it. As soon as we can make sure the date can be confirmed with the organization, and we are prepared on our end, this is our goal this week, and our top priority.

As stated previously, the Municipal (government) received our letter for request to do this and they approved it. However they added they won't let us use their buildings, because it's very much a messy experience. So I was asked by the other organization if we can do it in our house: we just needed two empty and sanitary rooms. We will have it available at the time arranged, and I asked my previous and anticipated returning renter of this property if he was okay with it. He gave us his permission so now we've passed all of those barriers. Lastly: we need to promote this, and make sure everyone around here is aware it will be in Tzununá this upcoming weekend/week as soon as we can confirm the date. Andrés has said the Municipal will do an announcement for us here in Tzununá, as soon as we pick the date, so the locals will all hear about it (including those without internet!) This is the goal: to spay and neuter all dogs that we are requested to do so [by owner]. This includes rescues that are of age, but excludes only dogs with owners who have specifically requested not to. It is important to understand this, we cannot force dogs to be neutered if they have an owner, but need to be given permission. So that's the update on that. I know many have asked us to get this neutering/spaying thing in tow, and we're finally in a position where we have the means to make it possible. It has been a long uphill road, and we appreciate your patience with our learning process in this.


So how's Kiwi doing?

Here's Kiwi as of this morning (on the left), Monday November 29th. The right-to-left is his progression, roughly week-by-week. He got into our house almost exactly 3 weeks ago, November 7th. As you can see his fur is growing back, we've been applying a twice-daily dosage of an antibiotic called Cefalong, which is known to help treat mange. We also have given him a Nexgard, per recommendation of the vet, which will help fight the mange as well as we wait for our order of Bravecto to come in (I'm surprised I haven't heard anything about it yet, I was told it would be in two weeks ago.) But it works out, because we have to wait about a month after giving the Nexgard, to give the Bravecto. Hopefully we get it just in time! We have also been applying a few times a week Aloe Vera to his skin, where it's very dry, because that helps dry skin and scabs of all kinds. It has worked wonders. He now has almost no scabbing on his body at all, though still a couple of 'dry-skin spots' left. Slowly, but surely, Kiwi is on a path of recovery.

He also has begun to show signs of joy, and happiness in a pack. When I met him he never smiled, always had a grimace on his face, and was very scared of human touch. Now he plays, jumps around when the other dogs get him involved, and is showing affection with humans and dogs alike like I've never seen. This is huge: he is getting happier. The most basic and simple sign of progress for the dog's well being. Here's a video of him playing with Surya and Scabby:

We have plenty more work to do with Kiwi, and he has needed special attention with the skincare, medicine, and training being a street dog of unknown age. But thankfully we had a kind donator who "sponsored" him and helped immediately supply all his medical needs. It's been going very well, and we will not stop till he is completely healed! Just for reference, here is a video of when he first walked into our house. Notice how you can see his ribs, and his hair situation is very different:


Lastly, a little summary of our experience here up until now.

It's been over 3 months now since Perros Libres has been officially formed. It has been quite a ride: this being my single occupation since creating it, has occupied nearly all of my time without almost any room for fun/recreation. I have been able to pull it off in small spurts: going to the waterfall with my friends (one of them being Andrés the landowner, & the other being Eric, our local Pizza stand guy), going out to dinner with friends on occasion, having people over the house and having "movie nights" with our little projector. Guatemala is a great place if you have friends around to get through the tough times with. And there have been some tough times.

We have been robbed before, we've had conflicts with our neighbors (and even roommates!) before, and there used to be more "gang activity" in this town than there is now. I have seen a little bit of all of it. But this is not to complain: it's just the reality of Guatemala. One cannot just walk into a "third-world country" and expect everything to just be butterflies and rainbows. I am not fond of the terms "First-world" and "Third-world", they seem to reinforce the status symbol of what our countries have, like the US and European countries, compared to these 'lesser equipped' countries. It's not a fair way to perceive them: it's because of the so-called "first-world" that these other countries like Guatemala are the way they are. Industrialization has totally wrecked the natural balance that the indigenous people lived with previous to our inhabitance (as foreigners). Plastic fills the lake, garbage lines the streets, and disease and malnutrition (most of all with the dogs) run rampant even in smaller village-like communities like Tzununá. That is the main reason Perros Libres is operating here: this town, lake Atitlan, and all of Guatemala needs foreign and local initiatives to work together, to help bring a healthier, safer, and happier Guatemala. For humans and dogs alike.

However, despite all of the challenges, I am very grateful to be here. Grateful for Guatemala allowing me to live here, grateful for the Mayans who are fast becoming great friends and community, and thanks for all of the supporters of Perros Libres who have empowered us to have a place for the dogs, feed most of the dogs of Tzununa, distribute medicine and aid to those that need it, and help now dozens of other dogs in this town and local families alike. We have been able to literally employ locals in aid of the Perros Libres initiative: our doggie-chef makes a good wage bringing us food 3 times a week, and because of the cleanliness issues of having so many puppies/young dogs, our friendly tamale vendor Maria offered to help clean our house a few times a week for a fair wage. Maria has asked us for this work because she wants to raise money for her daughter to go to a special school, and this is what non-profits should be doing: supporting local community and empowering them to accomplish their goals, which is why we're so happy to be able to support Maria and her daughter.


Life is good, guys. Don't let the haters get you down: we won't either. We'll keep our head held high and continue doing the good work we've started here. Thanks for all your support up until this point, and we look forward to sharing with you our future progress with both this clinic, our dogs health, the health of all the dogs in Tzununá. Libertad por los Perros!

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