John Quam Editor in Chief Howler Magazine Costa Rica

January 2019 Howler Magazine Editorial:  

One of my passions is helping animals in need. I cannot pass by and ignore any creature that is in danger or hurting. While driving, I have turned around and stopped to rescue a parrot just sitting on the pavement that would otherwise likely be run over by someone else’s vehicle. I have also stopped to assist snakes crossing roads, and found myself involved with many other rescue animal cases: from lizards and monkeys to lots of dogs … even a pilot whale.

As newcomers to Costa Rica five years ago, we needed to get used to a different culture and all aspects of being part of the community. One of the most noticeable concerns we had after arriving here was the number of dogs wandering the streets and roadways. Many of these animals looked like they needed help.

One person or a small group can make a difference, but it takes a community coming together to really have an impact on rescue animals in Costa Rica. Part of making our communities appealing and wonderful is the extent that we take care of stray animals. It’s a daunting task as there are so many, but the situation is not hopeless. During my past five years of living here it’s become notably better. Regular spay and neuter clinics in the area are making a tremendous impact. Sterilization surgery for hundreds, if not thousands, of dogs and cats every year is quite a production. It’s available for free or drastically reduced fees to those who cannot afford to pay more. For just $20 you can sponsor an animal in this circumstance. These clinics are run efficiently and with care by the kind of role models who make our communities better for all of us.

“It is one thing to
rescue animals but
quite another to
assume financial
responsibility for
their care.”


Shortly after settling in Costa Rica, we met Dr. Gilberth Cavallini at Cavallini Veterinary Hospital, as well as Silvia at Tuanis Veterinary Clinic and several caring local residents working so well together: people like Flamingo’s Barbara Deppe, the late Dawn Scott, and Linneth, a local Tica who stepped in after Dawn’s passing with Yo Seré Su Voz Guanacaste, rightfully meaning “I will be your voice Guanacaste.” Their efforts have made a huge difference, not only as the go-to people for animals in crisis but as dedicated citizens giving back to our communities in sometimes less visible ways. They need our support.

It is one thing to rescue animals but quite another to assume financial responsibility for their care. When we drop off an animal for veterinary care, many assume that’s where our humanitarian sense of duty ends. Actually, it is just the beginning. The financial aspect of caring for rescued animals kicks in and can be very costly. It is not uncommon for such cases to cost many hundreds of dollars. The veterinarians and others involved are angels in our community who cannot bear this financial burden themselves. As a community, we all need to come together to ensure rescued animals receive the care they need.

Please donate what you can … simply drop off some spare change or make a commitment to support consistently. It is so vital and rewarding to see the impact of animals getting help and stray populations decreasing.