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Controlling Pet Overpopulation: 79,850 and Counting



STORY AT-A-GLANCE


  • Dr. Mace Licuanan founded the Philippine Pet Birth Control Center Foundation (PPBCC) to eradicate rabies and help control the pet population through low-cost spaying and neutering

  • She was nominated for a Healthy Pets Game Changer Award by Cindy L., and her foundation has already helped nearly 80,000 animals

  • Two years ago, she started doing ovary-sparing spays and vasectomies on the animals that come under her care, which will boost their health and longevity

  • The stray animal population is so overwhelming in the Philippines that PPBCC is primarily promoting a trap-neuter-vaccine release program at this time

  • Hopefully one day, with incredible efforts like those from Dr. Licuanan, they can move on to a next phase where foster and adoptions are possible

I recently had the honor of speaking with Dr. Mace Licuanan, who founded the Philippine Pet Birth Control Center Foundation (PPBCC) to eradicate rabies and help control the pet population through low-cost spaying and neutering. She was nominated for a Healthy Pets Game Changer Award by Cindy L., and her foundation is doing life-saving, life-changing work for stray animals and communities in the Philippines.


"I've been a veterinarian since 2002. So, I've been a small animal practitioner for 19 years. And during my early years of practice, I've been exposed to treating rescued dogs and cats, and it finally hit me that I have to do something about all these rescued dogs and cats," Dr. Licuanan said.


"And I came to realize that the main problem here in the Philippines is overpopulation of dogs and cats. And that's mainly the reason why we cannot give the appropriate veterinary care."


Because there are so many stray animals, it's virtually possible to provide proper care for all of them, and rabies is a real problem in the community. As part of the Anti-Rabies Act of the Philippines, the government can capture, impound and euthanize stray dogs and cats, but Dr. Licuanan wanted to help by humanely controlling the population via spay and neutering.



Nearly 80,000 Animals Have Been Helped


Dr. Licuanan became a spay and neuter advocate in 2006, and established the Philippine Pet Birth Control Center Foundation in 2017.


"We basically do spay and neuter every day," she said, "and our services are low cost … we are also teaching facility for the United students and the United schools here in the Philippines sent their veterinary clinicians to us. We've been doing spay and neuter since March, 2017. We started counting and today we are officially on our 79,850 [animal and] counting."


The magnitude of what Dr. Licuanan has created is simply amazing, especially because they had to work hard to convince the local government, veterinary schools and communities that their project was worthwhile. Now, they conduct outreach missions when they will spay or neuter 500 dogs and cats in a day.


"That's how we were able to achieve this number," Dr. Licuanan said. "And we focus on spay and neuter alone. But of course we do accept rescues once in a while, but not to the extent of overwhelming our capacity to function, because we want to mainly focus on spay and neuter. And I'm hoping that we could make a difference in the rabies situation here in the Philippines."


Right now, the stray animal population is so overwhelming in the Philippines that they're primarily promoting a trap-neuter-vaccine release program to help stop the overpopulation and reduce the spread of rabies.


Hopefully one day, with efforts like those from Dr. Licuanan, they can move on to a next phase where foster and adoptions are possible. Already, the team has been working with city veterinarians at local governments across the Philippines, who are now considering spay-neuter as an alternative to euthanization for stray animals. She added:

"But sadly we are a very poor country. So, the least of the government's concern is really the animals. But we have an overwhelming response now of pet owners and private individuals who want to help in our advocacy of eradicating rabies, because I personally believe that we cannot protect the dogs and cats unless you have rabies [under control], because we have the Anti-Rabies Act in the Philippines.
… So basically that's what we're aiming for, and hopefully in the future, when we can be able to eradicate rabies, maybe we can uplift the quality of veterinary care and attention that can we give to our dogs and cats here."


PPBCC Even Does Ovary-Sparing Spays and Vasectomies


What's even more incredible about Dr. Licuanan is that, two years ago, she started doing ovary-sparing spays and vasectomies on the animals that come under her care. Even in the U.S., only ovariohysterectomies and castrations are taught in U.S. veterinary schools, so there are relatively few U.S. veterinarians who have learned alternative techniques like these, which offer significant benefits for the animals' health and longevity.


Most people in Dr. Licuanan's shoes would, understandably, first focus on fixing the rabies crisis and pet overpopulation problem at hand before even considering the making changes to protect the stray animals' longevity, but Dr. Licuanan is also looking out for the health and welfare of these animals by doing ovary-sparing spays and vasectomies.


It's what I have begged the U.S. shelter system and high-volume spay and neuter clinics to do here in the U.S., and Dr. Licuanan has succeeded at it while also educating the next generation on how to perform these culture-shifting, life-changing alternative procedures.

She and her team are exquisite role models for compassion, making a difference for countless animals and their community. Dr. Licuanan shared some words that everyone — animal lover or not — could benefit by learning to live by:

"If there is a problem, we have to learn how to address it with compassion and try to make it a little bit easier for those who are involved.
And I always say this to my students, that in every animal welfare situation that we are facing, there's always a human welfare issue that is involved. So I think we cannot save the world, but at least we have to learn how to deal with all of our problems with compassion and with respect to lives."

To learn more about the Philippine Pet Birth Control Center Foundation or make a donation, you can find them on social media, as well as via their website, PPBCCFoundation.org.1

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