Using Research To Rescue Dogs And Cats At The Beach
People flock to Caribbean and Mexican tourist destinations this time of year for sun, fun, and relaxation. But the sad sight of distressed stray animals overwhelms the pleasure of soft sand and warm breezes for many. Dogs and cats – hungry, thin, even sick or injured – roam the beaches and streets looking for food … and maybe a little love.
When compassionate visitors try to help by reporting the problem, their good intentions often lead to bad outcomes. Local governments, without funds for humane solutions, may simply round up animals and kill them, by electrocution, drowning, or other painful methods.
How can a nonprofit market research firm fight overpopulation and cruel animal deaths? While advocates like you love animals, the hospitality industry, like any business, focuses primarily on economics. Our research for Cats and Dogs International (CANDi) proves to hotels, resorts, and other vacation lodgings that they can do well by doing good. We studied travelers’ perceptions about seeing strays at tourist destinations and the effect on their future travel plans. The results show hotel operators that they can make more money by humanely managing stray animals.
RIU Hotels & Resorts, with over 100 locations in 16 countries, opened its first “Cat Café” in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Stray cats have a space just for them and, with help from a local nonprofit, receive fresh food and water. RIU also supported a spay/neuter event in Cancun by donating lodging for veterinarians and other volunteers coming from the U.S., Canada, other parts of Mexico, and Cuba. These volunteers completed surgeries for more than 1,500 community animals. The company has already publicly committed to expand the partnership with CANDi to many other destinations.
Diana Webster, Vice President at CANDi, recently presented a brief overview of the preliminary findings from our research at the first Dog Population Management Conference in York, England. “The presentation generated much discussion and interest among conference attendees, who were representatives from government agencies and animal welfare organizations from across the globe, because of the unique perspective that this study provides,” she noted. “Many conference attendees had not considered how many travelers are affected by seeing strays, and there were several light-bulb moments … along with numerous requests for the final report.”
Simply put, investment in Faunalytics by people like you allowed us to deliver this research at no charge to CANDi, as part of our select pro bono work. This support will pay off many times over in reducing the misery of dogs and cats around the world! “By providing solid research on how substantial numbers of tourists are negatively affected by … suffering, we can gain the support of the travel industry to use their global economic and political clout to make lasting and sustainable changes for these animals at international tourist destinations,” Webster says.