Operation Cunucu, April 2016, Was a Huge Success


Oranjestad — In just 5 days the visiting Animal Balance team together with 40 non professional volunteers from Aruba and from overseas came together to spay and neuter 337 most-at-risk cunucu dogs, from the Parkietenbos dump, San Nicolas, and Palm Beach.

Operation Cunucu was well organized. The Animal Balance team members proved very professional, focused and determined to do their best in spite of the heat and the unfavorable conditions, especially because most stray dogs coming in were covered with ticks, and fleas, and suffering from related tick and flea illnesses.

Looking after animals correctly, starts with food and water, and continues with health care, just like humans, animals require medical attention and checkups. Pet owners must act to reduce the risk of fleas and tick born diseases and give their pets heart worm prevention, on a regular basis, just like sending a car for service, or kids to school. Without medication to cut down on the number of parasites, dogs become very sickly with anemia and extremely low blood platelets, which was the case with dogs seen by the Animal Balance team members.

A few basic prevention habits will help eliminate diseases and make the island’s pet population healthier. Thanks to the incredible generosity of the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts, spaying and neutering is now a very affordable operation, and should be taken advantage of by all residents.

Operation Cunucu would like to be sustainable but as a nonprofit that relies on donations, it is dependent on the general public’s support.

While the goal was to reach 500 sterilized dogs, Operation Cunucu was faced by many challenges as a large percentage of dogs coming into the clinic at Centro Dakota had either just recently given birth, making surgery more complex. The surgeons had to perform “flank spays” so that the nursing moms could still feed their babies without issues. Secondly many females coming in were in heat, which meant that surgery took longer due to vascular issues. Thirdly, the larger number of females vs males, as females require a longer surgery than males.

On most days, the Animal Balance team members operated for about 10 hours. It was totally amazing to see but there is no way that a normal vet clinic could sustain those long hours, in the extremely humid and windy conditions, which compromised the health of humans and dogs.

When asked why the local vets did not participate, Operation Cunucu explains that there are few trained professionals on the island and many animals in need of care, if the vets had left their clinics to join Animal Balance they would have to shut down their clinics, which was not the idea. Besides, Animal Balance professionals are specifically trained in mass sterilization, a technique different from regular surgery procedures.

There are so many health benefits to sterilization besides population control, and Animal Balance would like to see a more humane and responsible approach to dogs and cats on the island.

Operation Cunucu would like to thank all Local and international supporters, sponsors, the amazing Volunteers and NGO’s that joined Animal Balance. Operation Cunucu is grateful to the Minister of Tourism, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Infrastructure, and the Minister of Health, Parliament member Donny Rasmijn and more for your support and co-operation. Together we can make a difference. And most importantly, we may have many happier and healthier Cunucu dogs.