If You Find an Animal That Needs Help
If you find an animal that is suffering or living on the street, do not assume we can appear suddenly and solve the problem. Animal welfare in Panama is governed by Law 70. The public (that means you) is responsible for the welfare of animals, not just rescue groups. You, as a member of the public, must act with knowledge of the law and never assume that we or any other rescue group have super-powers to solve all problems. If you work with rescue groups and with the law, you will be more successful in solving problems in your community. Although this discussion refers to dogs, the same applies to cats. You need to work with us and not assume we can take the cats off your hands on short notice.
Before you contact us, answer these questions:
- Have you read Law 70 on our website? It is your responsibility to be informed.
- Are you in our geographic area? We work in Chiriqui and are based in Boquete. We cannot address problems in other regions of Panama. If you are outside our area, please contact a rescue group closer to you. If you live in David, you need to contact the local David rescue groups first. See the Links section of our website for information on David rescues.
- Is the dog owned? Just because a dog is on the streets does not mean it is a stray. Ask around and find out the history of the dog. We cannot take a dog that belongs to someone without their permission. This includes dogs on the street that look like strays. If the dog is owned, talk to the owner and encourage him to provide better care for the animal. Maybe the owner will surrender the animal to you – it happens. Don’t jump straight to rescue without talking with the owner first.
- Is the dog in good condition? A street dog may be healthy and happy, and living a fine life where it is. It might benefit from regular feeding, but not need rescue. If you have determined that the dog is truly a stray and is suffering, go directly to Question #7.
- Have you talked to neighbors and community members? Find out about the dog, its history, where it stays. Gather photographs and evidence.
- Have you contacted your local Justice of the Peace? If the dog is owned, neither you nor we have the legal right to take it away from the owner. Only the Justice of the Peace has the right to confiscate an abused or neglected dog. Present evidence of abuse/neglect to the Justice of the Peace and invite him/her to make a site visit. The Justice of the Peace should only be contacted after your attempts to talk reasonably with the owner have failed.
- Have you made arrangements to take in a stray, surrendered, or confiscated dog? We are a foster-based organization, and we are always full. You need to be flexible and be ready to house the dog on a temporary basis.
Are you ready to partner with us? If you arrange to house the dog, we will provide veterinary care, food, medicine, vaccines, sterilization, and advice. We will advertise the dog and help get it adopted. If we can we will house the dog, but we cannot guarantee this. For this reason, we need to collaborate with you. Be ready to work together with us to creatively solve the problem.