Animal Balance is a U.S.-based nonprofit that uses large-scale animal sterilization campaigns to benefit island communities across the globe. The organization was founded in 2002 by Emma Clifford after discovering that cats and dogs in the Galapagos Islands were being poisoned to reduce their populations. Animal Balance was established to reduce animal populations humanely, bringing about “solutions without suffering.”
Throughout its 15-year history, Animal Balance has used sterilization as a tool to control free-roaming dog and cat populations on islands worldwide, and has brought Mobile Animal Sterilization Hospitals (MASH) to the Bahamas, Cape Verde, the Galapagos Islands, the Dominican Republic, and the Samoan Islands. These sterilization clinics serve owned and unowned animals alike. As they promote and provide animal sterilization in these island communities, Animal Balance volunteers are committed to education, outreach, and creating local partnerships.
With the introduction of non-surgical fertility control options, Animal Balance is expanding MASH to a “MASH Menu,” which will offer veterinarians a choice of sterilization options that best meet the needs of each patient and community. Animal Balance’s Z*M*A*S*H campaign, held in Oahu in April 2014, was an extension of the MASH Menu and reflected the team’s use of Zeuterin™ for male dogs alongside spaying and traditional surgical neutering. Zeuterin allowed dog owners and Animal Balance’s volunteer veterinarians to select the best procedure for each individual patient. Oahu was a prime location to launch Z*M*A*S*H, since the dogs treated with Zeuterin could be observed after the procedure by an owner or community member and notify the Animal Balance team if any follow up care was needed.
The Z*M*A*S*H model introduced in Oahu opens up exciting new possibilities for future campaigns, both for Animal Balance and other organizations. Animal Balance’s use of non-surgical sterilization will continue and potentially expand, as the team is hoping to add the contraceptive implant Suprelorin as an option for female dogs.
Animal Balance founder Emma Clifford explains the choice to incorporate non-surgical sterilization into their campaigns: “Offering new tools and technologies will be cost-and-resource-effective, empower communities that may resist surgical sterilization or cannot access anesthesia or pain medications, and reach dogs who are not well enough to undergo anesthesia.” In other words, using non-surgical products will allow their procedures to be minimally invasive and enable them to help more animals through maximization of time and resources, creating a more sustainable, affordable and culturally-acceptable option for the island communities that Animal Balance aids.