Bend, Oregon ¤ Kapolei, Hawaii
About Animal Balance
Animal Balance is dedicated to resolving conflicts between people, wildlife, and community dogs and cats on island nations and communities. The nonprofit seeks to gradually reduce populations of community dogs and cats through humane high-volume sterilization campaigns, and to improve the physical condition of existing animal populations through medical treatment and vaccination. In collaboration with local governments, veterinarians, citizens, and nongovernmental organizations, Animal Balance has organized mobile animal sterilization hospital (M*A*S*H) campaigns on island nations around the globe.
In 2014, Animal Balance introduced a new program: the M*A*S*H Menu. The Menu will incorporate non-surgical sterilization techniques as new tools become available, the goal being to “allow our veterinarians to make the best possible decision on how to sterilize each animal, based upon their body condition and living situation.” Animal Balance's first M*A*S*H Menu event was a Z*M*A*S*H campaign in Oahu, Hawaii; this included Zeuterin in additional to surgical sterilization. The campaign offered sterilization services to pet dogs as well as those residing at the Oahu SPCA.
To set the stage for Z*M*A*S*H, Animal Balance published the blog article, “Can I offer you a sterilization menu?” The organization also notes that varying the name of the widely used "MASH" model sparked interest from other organizations interested in how they, too, could expand their sterilization “toolbox.” Animal Balance advertised the Z*M*A*S*H campaign with social media, including a video posted on Facebook and the organization website; press releases; and community flyers, the last of which were developed with input from local animal welfare leaders to ensure that the messaging would appeal to and contain information important to the community. Veterinarians were invited to join the campaign and become trained to use Zeuterin. The organization also promoted the campaign on key listservs, the local animal technician school, at military bases, and in areas known to have large numbers of intact dogs. Finally, Animal Balance leveraged strategic word-of-mouth outreach. It sent fliers to American Samoa, a site of multiple prior M*A*S*H campaigns, and asked that recipients share with friends and relatives on Oahu, which is home to a large contingent of Samoans.
To ensure animals were monitored during recovery, owners of Zeutered animals were asked to text “testicle updates” to Animal Balance for three days post-procedure so that any complications could be addressed promptly. Owners reliably complied with this request!
During the campaign, 305 dogs and cats were sterilized, including 65 male dogs using Zeuterin. Animal Balance explains that “by offering Zeuterin we increased our sterilization rate with our limited resources and space available. We had a very small space in which to work and we found that by increasing the number of Zeuters we could more effectively utilize that space as it requires fewer supplies, volunteers and recovery time.” Also, the campaign reached owners “who prefer their dogs to have testicles” and resist surgical castration such that “the 65 dogs who we Zeutered would not likely have been sterilized otherwise”.
Animal Balance tracked the effectiveness of promotional activities, monitoring views of Facebook posts and media stories resulting from their press release. Additionally, twelve veterinarians received Zeuterin training, ensuring that non-surgical sterilization will remain an option on Oahu after the conclusion of the Z*M*A*S*H clinic. Furthermore, a comprehensive report posted on the Animal Balance website provides campaign details and outcomes, which offers tremendous value to the animal welfare field and specifically organizations interested in incorporating Zeuterin into sterilization campaigns.
How Animal Balance applied their prize
As a winner of the Prizes for Pioneers contest, Animal Balance received a grant in the amount of $3,000 from the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs to put towards spaying and neutering more dogs and cats, either surgically or non-surgically.
Inspired by the success of their ZMASH on Oahu, Animal Balance chose to apply their grant towards replicating the “llio Kokua,” or ‘dog help’ in Hawaiian, program on other Hawaiian Islands. This process involved conducting Zeuter Training Programs targeting Hawaiian veterinarians, assisting local Humane Societies with implementing ZMASH campaigns, and research to identify areas of greatest need. As a result of this initiative, 32 veterinarians and technicians were trained in the procedure, 89 dogs were Zeutered in the training process, and perhaps most importantly, partnerships were established between Animal Balance and Hawaiin Humane Societies. The Humane Society in Maui held their own MASH campaign for dogs without assistance from Animal Balance, proving the self-sufficiency and sustainability of the program.
Of interest, the Humane Society in Kauai targeted a community of hunters who turned out to be extremely interested in Zeuterin. A clinic was scheduled for November 2015 with full participation from the hunting community.