Education has always been one of the most important aspects of Darwin Animal Doctors’ approach to improving animal welfare in the Galapagos Islands. Until recently, many residents in the Galapagos did not understand the need for the control of introduced species and were unaware of the humane method of control, namely sterilization. When the Darwin Animal Doctors started the conversation about the need for veterinary care for animals, including the need for sterilization, there were many myths and a lot of resistance surrounding the issue. It seemed it would be a hard road ahead for the team to change these local perceptions.
Now, let’s fast forward to 2016. After six years of education, spreading awareness and providing free veterinary care to the towns of Galapagos Islands, it is incredible to see the difference that those years of education have made. From a resistant society to the concept of animal care and sterilization, the clinic now flourishes with people coming in looking for treatment for their pets, and requesting the surgery. But the biggest difference, and the most exciting is that seen in the next generation.
Recently, the Tomas de Berlanga School in Santa Cruz ran a type of treasure hunt where the children handed out a pamphlet with information on sterilization, including its importance and debunking common myths. The pamphlet also contained the Darwin Animal Doctors poster, with information on when and where to access the free service. Sounds good right? Well, it gets better; the kids not only handed out the pamphlets (making sure not to overlap with other children who had come through earlier), but had a conversation with each person that they gave the pamphlets too, making sure they understood the information and its importance.
The Darwin Animal Doctors were flowing with pride watching local kids spread the education that they, themselves have started within the Galapagos towns. Of course, that pride and excitement was taken to the next level when the Darwin Animal Doctors were greeted by each of these kids, who came into the clinic to tell all the vets; “We love Darwin Animal Doctors!”
Education is where we make a real difference, changing the outlook and understanding of future generations. This is just one example to show that education really works; Empowering the people to empower themselves.
Keep it up Darwin Animal Doctors!