Tuzita and Soruya are pretty happy with their dog house. It’s new, it’s spacious, and it’s bright blue – just like the Caribbean waters off the coast of Playa del Carmen where they live. But this dog house won’t just to keep them cool in the summer and protected from the rain. It is also part of a much larger project called Casitas Azules, or Little Blue Houses. The project provides shelter to dogs while simultaneously aiding in the conservation efforts of endangered jaguars and marine turtles.

Casitas Azules is distributing these distinctive blue dog houses to households in targeted neighborhoods where dog sheltering and guardianship need general improvement, and where dogs and wildlife are showing signs of interaction. Participating households receive support in the form of sterilization, vaccination and better overall care for their dogs. In exchange, they will serve as Animal Welfare Ambassadors in their community, assisting their neighbors in improving the care of their animals.

Over the first year, we will be distributing 100 dog houses. Our goal in this unique project is to improve local attitudes and coexistence with important local wildlife by helping the communities provide better care for their dogs.

Playa is a fast growing city, and every new human settlement on the outskirts is a threat to both jaguar and marine turtle habitat. Some dogs go to the beach to scavenge marine turtle eggs and attack adult turtles. In other areas, jaguars are attacking dogs left unsheltered at night, resulting in angry and fearful owners who retaliate against the jaguars themselves.

According to research, marine turtle nest scavenging by dogs is hunger-driven. When dogs are better cared for, they are more likely to stay home instead of searching for turtle eggs. Similarly, dogs who are safely sheltered at night, and who have been sterilized, are less likely to roam. This makes them less likely to be targets for jaguars, therefore discouraging jaguars from entering human communities and stirring conflict. The result is that jaguars, turtles, dogs, and people are all safer.

This innovative approach bridges conservation and humane community development in Playa del Carmen. By improving the care that dogs receive in these disadvantaged communities, we are decreasing the negative impacts community animals have on endangered wildlife. And of course, this makes everyone happy – especially Tuzita and Soruya!


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Article source: IFAW

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