Emily Hays, Chief Veterinarian and Director of Healthcare at Foothills Animal Shelter, was selected to assist in the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Spayathon for Puerto Rico, a high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter initiative. She arrived late last week to join this incredible endeavor with the goal of altering more than 20,000 dogs and cats in underserved communities.
Dr. Hays was selected to join numerous veterinary teams dispatched from organizations such as Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University to provide high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter services and vaccinations across the island.
“This is a huge honor to be selected and to have this opportunity to help,” said Dr. Hays. “It is an amazing, collaborative experience that will have a lasting impact not only on pets and people in Puerto Rico, but also on our local shelters in Colorado,” she added.
After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, many pets were left behind, adding to the population of unowned animals (estimated by HSUS to be more than 300,000 dogs and one million cats). According to HSUS, access to veterinary services for many residents living below the poverty level is difficult and overpopulation continues to be a major concern.
“Providing the spay and neuter services is so critical to the health of the animals and the community, and to combat overpopulation in this area,” said Dr. Hays.
To facilitate this historic, 18-month-long “spayathon” event, HSUS has amassed millions in donations, equipment, and supplies. The goal, according to HSUS, is to alter at least 20,000 dogs and cats and ensure rabies, leptospirosis, and other essential vaccinations.
“We’re working really long days to get the animals the help they need. My experience working at the Shelter definitely prepared me for this level of volume, and to maintain the stamina needed while we’re here,” said Dr. Hays.
Dr. Hays has altered thousands of local animals during her tenure with Foothills Animal Shelter—more than 1,000 in 2017 alone.
Eight different sectors have been selected across Puerto Rico, as identified by HSUS and the government of Puerto Rico, and multiple organizations are partnering in this enormous effort to blanket the country with urgently needed vet care for animals and people in need.