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There aren’t many things that everyone in San Pedro agrees about, but no one would argue with you when you say ‘It’s hot!’.  It has been very warm the past couple of months and it looks like we may be in for a long and very hot summer.  While we seek out the shade and drink ice cold drinks to cool us down, we need to remember that our furry friends feel the heat just like we do.  The only difference is that they depend on us to provide them with shade and fresh, cool water.

Recently, a family in San Pedro suffered the tragic loss of their much loved dog.  Why?  Because they didn’t realise that dogs can suffer terribly in the heat. Their loyal pet followed them on a journey along San Pedro’s dusty roads one afternoon.  He seemed enthusiastic to run and stayed with them as he often does on their journeys, running along beside them. 

What this dog’s owners didn’t realise was that dogs often place their loyalty above their own health and welfare.  They believed that if the dog became too hot or tired, he would rest or find a drink.  Sadly, it was too late before they realised that their beloved dog had overheated and he died.

Remember that in the hot sun, your dog may be even more uncomfortable than you are.  He’s wearing a fur coat, after all.  It is best not to exercise your dog during the hottest hours of the day – between 11am and 3pm.  If you have to take your dog out during this time, make sure that you give him breaks in the shade and have plenty of fresh drinking water available.


Keep your dogs cool with fresh water.

Keep your dogs cool with fresh water.

Dogs do not sweat like humans do, so they can become overheated very quickly.  If your dog is panting, you know he’s hot.  Make sure you provide shade for your dog during these hot ‘dog days’ of summer and have a plentiful supply of fresh water available to him at all times.  Never leave him tied up in the sun.

Keep an eye out for the symptoms of heat stroke, which can include any of the following:  heavy panting, dark red and dry gums, lying down and unwilling (or unable) to get up, collapse and/or loss of consciousness, thick saliva and dizziness or disorientation. If you think your dog has suffered from heat stroke, there are things you can do to help save your dog.

  1. First, move your dog out of the heat and away from the sun right away.
  2. Begin cooling your dog by placing cool, wet rags or washcloths on the body – especially the foot pads and around the head.
  3. DO NOT use ice or very cold water! This can make the situation worse.
  4.  Offer your dog cool water, but do not force water into your dog’s mouth.
  5. Call or visit your vet right away – even if your dog seems better. Internal damage might not be obvious to the naked eye, so an exam is necessary

Have a cool canine – not a hot dog!

If you are worried about a dog that may be over heating or suffering from heat stroke, call SAGA on 226 3266 for further advice.


Saga Humane Society was thrilled to have interns from UNC Wilmington helping out at Saga Humane Society this week. These wonderful volunteers are here on the island for 5 weeks student teaching in our local schools. While schools are on Easter Break, they have been walking dogs and painting fences at the clinic and kennels at Fort Dog. This program has been bringing students to Ambergris for the past six years . We are honored to be on their itinerary and hope to work with them in the future on humane education during their visits. Thank you interns, Dr. Catapono and Dr. Kabasko for helping in our community.
Bark Bark Meow for the UNC Wilmington Seahawks!



2013 Community Accomplishments –

Saga HS Clinic and Shelter- Saga HS operates a not for profit Veterinary Clinic in San Pedro that is open to the public. As well as a animal shelter, Ft. Dog for homeless dogs and cats available for adoption. There was a 36% decrease in adoptions from the shelter, as residents buying and importing “breed” animals to the island.

  • 12% decrease in shelter animals- With a 30% increase in animal care costs, and fewer owner surrenders the Saga HS shelter saw a decrease in animals in the shelter.
  • 150% increase in animals treated free of charge- With the economy still struggling, free services increased in 2013 to low income residents.
  •  216% increase in vaccinations- To control the spread of diseases distemper, rabies and parvo vaccines were given to low income residents at no charge.
  • CDV outbreak and Mobile Clinics-   After 22 cases of distemper had been seen at the Saga HS clinic, it was clear there was an outbreak in San Mateo. To prevent the spread of this highly contagious disease Saga HS held a Mobile Clinic Tuesday August 6 & 13 to the San Mateo area. Saga HS vaccinated 151 the area dogs and distributed antibiotics to affected dogs.  5 dogs were transported back to Saga HS clinic with advance symptoms of distemper and humanly euthanized. Vaccines were at no charge to low income residents or $10 for those who could afford to pay. Estimated cost to Saga HS was $2,000 which was subsidized through donations. Success was measured through a decrease in cases of CDV in San Mateo and the lack of the disease spreading to other neighborhoods.
  • Wildlife- Saga HS Veterinarian Dr. Baptist assisted operating on two different injured and sick marine turtles for the Ambergris Caye Marine Turtle Program. Lucky the Green and Flipper the Hawksbill both made a recovery and released back to the sea.


Operation SNIP – Saga HS aims to help reduce the problems associated with community and street animals on Ambergris Caye by introducing a pet population management program, Operation SNIP (Spay Neuter Initiative Project). To reduce the breeding populations and reduce the number of street animals, 75-90% of all dogs and cats on the island will need to be sterilized in a 3-5 year time frame to be effective.  The primary objective of comprehensive management program should be to keep the population of dogs and cats in a particular area down to a level where there is no need to destroy healthy and friendly animals, but without accumulating them in a shelter.

After analyzing the numbers, owner surrenders were averaging 422 animals per year in between 2009-2012.  43% of those surrenders were euthanized due to lack of homes, decreases in adoption rates or for adverse health reasons. SNIP efforts were concentrated on owned animals that were left to breed freely in backyards, only to be surrendered or turned loose to the streets as strays. SNIP was offered to owners for no cost in 2013 to increase owner participation.

  • 42% increase– 639 animals were sterilized through SNIP in 2013. The estimated cost to Saga HS was $32,000 which was subsidized through volunteers, grants, donations and fundraising efforts. Success was measured by a decrease of 26% in owner surrenders and a 27% decrease in surrender euthanasia.
  • Volunteer Vet- Dr. Don Tummons of Duck Hollow Animal Hospital in Uniontown, PA helped kick off Operation SNIP in March 2013 with 50 free spay/neuters. He returned for a week in July to help complete 75 spay/neuters for the month. Dr. Tummons and his assistant Mary Maykuth are superstars to Saga HS, as their volunteer their time and expertise and vacation time to come help the animals of Ambergris Caye.
  •  World Spay Day- 25 animals were sterilized in co-ordination with World Spay Day promoted by The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International. 
  • SNIP-a-thon- During the month of October Saga HS hosted two different visiting Veterinary groups Helping Paws Across Borders and Hopkins Belize Humane Society that provided 208 free spay/neuter clinics for the low income residents of Ambergris Caye in DFC and San Mateo. In addition to the free spay/neuters the teams did wellness check up’s, additional CDV vaccinations and parasite treatments. Success was measured by the high turnout of owners bringing their animals to the Mobile MASH Clinics, instead of requiring transportation to Saga HS Clinic.



Education- Saga HS provides a range of educational materials and press releases with information on the responsibilities of animal ownership, how to care for companion animals and the advantages of pet sterilization.  Community education is also accomplished through websites, social media, school visits and mobile clinics.

  •  William & Charlotte Parks Foundation Grant- was awarded for our public educational program. A portion will be used to make public service announcements on responsible pet ownership, SNIP for TV, radio and print media. The other portion will be used to fund an educational program in local school teaching children kindness and responsibility toward animals.


San Pedro Dog Control Orders- Saga HS, San Pedro Town Council and San Pedro Police Department worked together after complaints of dogs at large in public, defecating in the street and dog attacks to resolve the issues growing concerns due to uncontrolled dogs. The majority of offenders are owned animals that their owners allow on to the streets without a leash or supervision.  All three agencies came to an agreement in enforcing existing Belize Law Dog Act, through the San Pedro Dog Control Orders. These orders address which agency is responsible for each area a comprehensive dog management plans.

  • San Pedro Town Council– has the authority to license dogs, write tickets and assess fines to irresponsible dog owners for allowing their dogs to be at large in public without a leash, nuisance complaints, failure to pick up and barking complaints. This is all within their legal authority.  The enforcement will be rolled out in phases. Owners need to be made aware of their responsibility and potential fines under the law.
  • San Pedro Police Department- has the authority to take dog attack complaints, write tickets, assess fines, require owners to post warning signs or muzzle dog in public, and investigate vicious or savage dog reports for summery conviction, or to refer case to Magistrate for prosecution.
  • Saga Humane Society- has the authority to round up dogs at large that appear to be ownerless and without a collar for transport to the Saga HS shelter. A fine will be collected if dog is claimed by owner. Unclaimed healthy animals will be vaccinated sterilized and adopted. Saga HS investigates complaints of animal abuse and abandonment.



Dogs Rounded Up: 170 (-5%)

Dogs Returned to Owner: 32 (-4%)

Euthanasia round up: 101 dogs (+2%)

Surrender (owner left at Saga): 266 (-26%)

Euthanasia of surrenders: 178 (-27%)

Adopted into New Homes:  108 (-36%)

Spayed/Neutered: 639 (+42%)

Parasite treatments: 321 (+184%)

Vaccinated: 503 (+216%)

Treated Free of Charge: 335 (+150%)

Total Euthanasia: 279 (-19%)

Average Animals in Shelter: 42 (-12%)

Saga Humane Society was founded in 1999, primarily to monitor and control the cat and dog populations on Ambergris Caye. Through assisted cost spay/neuter and adoption, humane education program. Saga improves the general health and well being of the domestic and wild animals, as well as the humans of the island.

Our mission at Saga Humane Society, a non-profit, non-governmental organization, is to prevent cruelty and replace it with kindness to all animals. We seek to achieve our goals by providing medical care and shelter to animals in need and subsidizing veterinary care to low income families. This is accomplished through the operation of the island’s only non-profit veterinary clinic, conducting ongoing spay/neuter and vaccination campaigns, animal adoption and public education programs. Our vision is to build a permanent animal clinic/education center in Ambergris Caye, Belize and continue working toward a long term solution to end animal abuse, neglect and overpopulation.

The Saga Foundation Limited, d/b/a Saga Humane Society is a Belize registered NGO and is a 501 (c)(3) organization; our US Federal Tax ID number is 31-1814113.


These girls wanted to make sure their beloved dog was well taken care of, so they brought her to the SNIP-a-thon.

These girls wanted to make sure their beloved dog was well taken care of, so they brought her to the SNIP-a-thon.





Deciding to get a dog is a life changing decision for you and the dog and should never be taken lightly.  Dogs require at least a couple of hours of your time every day for feeding, grooming, exercise, training and play.  They need to be kept safely contained and on walks their poop picked up, bagged and placed in the garbage bin.  If you don’t have a fence, then your dogs should never be left unattended in your yard. Your dogs will be able to run away to poop in the street or in your neighbor’s yards, empty garbage bins making an unhealthy environment. They will learn bad habits like chasing children, bicycles or vehicles resulting in accidents or injuries.  Not only are you placing them in danger, but also could be causing nuisance problems in your community.  Unbelievably, some irresponsible dog owners blame vehicle drivers when their dog is hit by a car or cart, forgetting that it is their responsibility to keep their dog safe and off the streets. 

All dogs need a mental and physical outlet.  If dogs are not given enough physical and mental exercise they can develop behavior problems such as barking, chasing and aggression.  It is never acceptable to allow your dog to exercise itself.  Your dog is your responsibility, which means that whenever it is not contained on your property, it should be on a leash and under your immediate control. Otherwise, you are making your dog everyone else’s problem.  Even worse are those who leave the care of the dog to their children.  Children should never be left unsupervised with any dog, for any length of time, for any reason.  Almost all serious injuries caused to children by dogs happen when they are unsupervised.

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When thinking about getting a dog it is important to choose a dog based on temperament and personality to make sure that it fits in with your lifestyle.  Saga Humane Society always has plenty of ‘pretty’ dogs that people purchased on impulse without knowing anything about the breed and then couldn’t look after them.  When you commit to a dog you are committing for the rest of its life, 10-15 years.  That means that whatever your circumstances are and even if they change, your dog is still your responsibility.  So, even if you find yourself in a situation where you can no longer care for your dog, it is up to you to make sure you find it a new loving permanent home.  So many people get dogs and then thoughtlessly abandon them or force them upon friends and family members when they are no longer convenient, or even worse, abandon them when they move. Surrendering them to Saga HS is not the answer either. In the past two years 625 animals were given up by their owners to Saga HS and only 276 were adopted into new homes.

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Good and responsible dog owners make sure their dogs are healthy, up to date on their vaccinations, wormed regularly and given heartworm prevention medicine monthly.  Even more importantly, they have their dog neutered or spayed so as not to add to the problem of dog overpopulation that we already have on Ambergris Caye.  Every year Saga Humane Society rounds up, cares for and humanely euthanases hundreds of animals because of the irresponsible acts of those who refuse to have their animals neutered or spayed.  Saga Humane Society is a not for profit that solely exists through fundraising and donations, it receives no money from government for its service to the community.

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If you want to be a dog owner, be one to be proud of by being responsible by walking your dog on leash when off your property, Scoop that Poop and spay or neuter your dog.  Show that not only do you care about your dog but that you care about your neighbours and La Isla Bonita.

Saga HS is pleased to announce an October  SNIP-a-thon. During the month of October Saga HS will be hosting two different visiting Veterinary groups to hold free spay/neuter clinics for the low income residents of Ambergris Caye. In addition to the free spay/neuters the teams will be doing additional CDV vaccinations, and dog training sessions for public. The goal is to sterilize over 300 island pets during the month.
Helping Paws Across Borders will be in San Pedro Oct. 7-10. They will be bringing a team of 15 including Veterinarians, Vet Techs, and dog trainers.  This group will focus their efforts on the neighborhoods of DFC, San Juan and Downtown. Because of limited space at the Saga HS clinic, MASH (Mobile Animals Surgical Hospital)type clinic will be held in DFC at Mrs. Adaly Ayuso. This will allow the medical teams to be closer to the animals and save the time and expense of transportation to the Saga HS clinic. Helping Paws Across Boarders stated goal is to reach out to other countries and make a difference in the lives of abused and neglected companion animals. Supply medicine and medical equipment to local Animal Shelters. To educate local clinic volunteer’s in shelter medicine. Stop overpopulation of companion animals in undeveloped countries. Be available to assist in spay and neuter clinics when and where we might be needed. Interacting with the local children and making animal welfare educational material available to them.
Hopkins Humane Society will be in San Pedro Oct. 18-21. They will be bringing a team including Veterinarians and Vet Techs.  This group will focus on San Mateo.
More details to come.
October SNIP-a-thon

October SNIP-a-thon


Saga Humane Society would like to alert the community of a Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) outbreak in San Mateo.  22 cases of distemper have already been seen at the Saga HS clinic. To prevent the spread of this highly contagious disease Saga HS will be doing a Mobile Clinic Tuesday August 6 to the affected neighborhood and will be vaccinating the area dogs. Vaccines will be at no charge to low income residents or $10 for those who can afford to pay. Saga HS seeks to raise $1000 to buy the vaccinations.  This will buy enough vaccinations for 100 animals.

To keep your dog safe make sure it is current on all vaccinations. Contain your dog within your yard and do not allow it to interact with unknown dogs. Puppies from three to six months old are particularly susceptible. CDV spreads through aerosol droplets and through contact with infected bodily fluids, including nasal and ocular secretions, feces, and urine, six to 22 days after exposure. It can also be spread by food and water contaminated with these fluids. The time between infection and disease is 14 to 18 days, although a fever can appear from three to six days after infection The virus is destroyed in the environment by routine cleaning with disinfectants, detergents, or drying. It does not survive in the environment for more than a few hours at room temperature (20–25°C), but can survive for a few weeks in shady environments.

Saga HS will keep the public updated on this situation.  If you suspect your dog has been exposed to CDV, seek veterinary medical care for your dog immediately.

Distemper in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatments [1] From Pet WebMD

Distemper is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus similar to the one that causes measles in people. Worldwide, it is the leading cause of infectious disease deaths in dogs,  All unvaccinated dogs are at high risk of infection.

Infected animals shed canine distemper virus in all body secretions. Inhaling the virus is the primary source of exposure. The highest incidence of the disease occurs in unvaccinated puppies 6 to 12 weeks of age.

Half the dogs who become infected with canine distemper virus show mild signs of illness or no signs at all. The overall health of the dog has a lot to do with how ill he becomes. The disease is most severe in dogs who are poorly nourished and ill-kept.

The distemper virus tends to attack brain cells and cells that line the surfaces of the body, including the skin, the conjunctiva, the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, and the gastrointestinal tract. The disease takes a variety of forms. Secondary infections and complications are common, partly attributable to the immunosuppressive effects of the virus.

The first signs of distemper appear six to nine days after exposure, and in mild cases go unnoticed.

First stage is characterized by a fever spike of up to 103° to 105°F (39.4° to 40.5°C). A second fever spike is accompanied by loss of appetite, listlessness, and a watery discharge from the eyes and nose. These symptoms may be mistaken for a cold.

Within a few days, the eye and nasal discharge becomes thick, yellow, and sticky. The dog develops a pronounced dry cough. Pus blisters may appear on the abdomen. Vomiting and diarrhea are frequent and may cause severe dehydration.

During the next one to two weeks, very often the dog seems to be getting better but then relapses. This often coincides with the end of the course of antibiotics and the development of gastrointestinal and respiratory complications due to secondary bacterial invasion.

Second stage occurs two to three weeks after the onset of the disease. Many dogs develop signs of brain involvement (encephalitis), characterized by brief attacks of slobbering, head shaking, and chewing movements of the jaws (as if the dog were chewing gum). Epileptic-like seizures may occur, in which the dog runs in circles, falls over, and kicks all four feet wildly. After the convulsive episode the dog appears to be confused, shies away from his owner, wanders about aimlessly, and appears to be blind.

Treatment: Distemper must be treated by a veterinarian. Antibiotics are used to prevent secondary bacterial infections, even though they have no effect on the distemper virus. Supportive treatment includes intravenous fluids to correct dehydration, medications to prevent vomiting and diarrhea, and anticonvulsants and sedatives to control seizures.

The outcome depends on how quickly you seek professional help, the virulence of the distemper strain, the age of the dog, whether he has been vaccinated, and his ability to mount a rapid and effective immune response to the virus.

In some cases Euthanasia is the best when the dogs are suffering.

Prevention: Vaccination against canine distemper is almost 100 percent protective. All puppies should be vaccinated by 8 weeks of age. Brood bitches should be given a DHLPPv (distemper, hepatitis,Lepstoporosis,  Parvovirus and parainfluenza combination) booster shot two to four weeks before breeding.


Puppy with Distemper

Puppy with Distemper


Saga Humane Society aims to help reduce the problems associated with community and street animals on Ambergris Caye by introducing a pet population management program, Operation SNIP (Spay Neuter Initiative Project).  To reduce the breeding populations and reduce the number of street animals, 75-90% of all dogs and cats on the island will need to be sterilized in a 3-5 year time frame to be effective.  Saga HS has pledged to raise money or bring visiting Veterinary teams to offer low cost or free spay/neuter, with a goal of 1,000 animals per year during this project. The primary objective of comprehensive animal management program should be to keep the population of dogs and cats on Ambergris Caye down to a level where there is no need to destroy healthy and friendly animals, but without accumulating them in the Saga HS shelter.

To help us reach our goal of 1,000 animals for 2013 Saga HS is pleased to make available 75 free spay/neuters for the month of July. Dr. Baptist will be performing surgeries the second week of July.  Dr. Don Tummons of Duck Hollow Animal Hospital in Uniontown, PA will return to San Pedro July 15-26. Dr. Dr. Don helped Saga HS kick off Operation SNIP on his last visit in March 2013 in which he spay/neutered 50 animals.  He and his assistant Mary Maykuth are superstars to Saga HS, they use their own vacation time to come and help the animals of Ambergris Caye.

To help raise money and recognize our special guests join us Wednesday July 17, 2013 at Wet Willy’s Cantina for Cook Off- Summer Salads.  Tickets go on sale at 6pm, serving will start at 6:30.  Arrive early as tickets do sell out early.  Cook Off entries should be able to serve 60 sample portions.  There will be raffle prizes with all the nights’ proceeds benefiting Operation SNIP.

Take advantage of this limited promotion during July for free spay/neuter. Call for your appointment 226-3266

San Pedro knows It’s Hip to SNIP!


SAGA Humane Society and the San Pedro Town Board are working together to help dog owners be better neighbours and members of the community.  This article will help you to understand what you can do, as a dog owner, to make San Pedro a more beautiful, happier and healthier place for residents and tourists alike. Don’t forget that when you choose to get a dog, your neighbours have no say in that choice.

  • Neuter or spay your dog.  This will prevent them from spreading disease and from adding to the dog overpopulation problem we have in San Pedro. It will also make them healthier and more loyal.
  • Keep your dog under control and in your yard at all times.  No one deserves to be frightened or hurt by your dog.
  • When in public or on the street keep your dog on a leash. Do not let them roam free while you are at work, a bar or community festival.
  • Pick up after your dog in public if it poops. Scoop it, bag it, trash it.
  • All puppies are born with roundworms and there are other internal parasites that they can catch, such as tapeworms.  When a dog poops on the ground and has worms, there is a risk that someone could become infected.  For the health and safety of everyone, it is important to worm your puppies and adult dogs regularly.  There is a good reason it is an offence to allow your dog to poop in a public place and not clean it up immediately.  It is a health hazard to humans, especially children.
  • Make sure that your dog does not disturb garbage cans as this not only makes San Pedro look dirty, but is a health hazard.
  • Do not allow your dog to bark all night.  Everyone wants a good night’s sleep and it is unfair if you allow your dog to keep other people awake.
  • All dogs should be kept up to date with their vaccinations.  This will help to stop them from catching or spreading diseases.  Rabies is a very important shot to keep up to date as rabies can be transmitted to humans and is life threatening.
  • Fleas carry tapeworms, so making sure that you have effective flea protection for your pets is essential.
  • We all know how common ticks are, but they too transmit dangerous diseases, such as tick fever, to dogs.  Many beloved dogs die unnecessarily because the owners have neglected to protect their dogs from ticks.  Mosquitoes also carry the deadly heartworm and so it is very important that every dog is given heartworm prevention on a monthly basis.

To find out how you can be a great neighbour and to learn more about preventing, worms, fleas, ticks or if you want your dog neutered or spayed, please call SAGA Humane Society on 226 3266.