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She Came a Long Way, Baby

An animal welfare advocate from Brazil learns the ropes at the ASPCA

In a brightly lit room outfitted with Formica and stainless steel, Ana Claudia Borges de Almeida watched a veterinarian at the Manhattan branch of the ASPCA examine a recently spayed cat. Thousands of miles from her home in Camacari, Bahia, Brazil, the shelter’s clean, modern environment was a far cry from the newspaper-covered kitchen tables in the muddy, impoverished villages that are her usual workplaces.

Borges de Almeida was in New York as part of a Humane Society International (HSI) program that brings animal welfare advocates from developing countries to the U.S. to observe and interact with their counterparts in American shelters, learning approaches they can take back to their home countries to help the animals and people in their communities.

The only shelter serving Borges de Almeida’s region in Brazil is an overcrowded, rundown facility 15 miles away in the state’s capital city of Salvador. Little more than a warehouse for strays, the shelter offers no spay/neuter services. To help with the rampant animal overpopulation in and around Camacari, in 2007 Borges de Almeida founded AnimalViva, a nonprofit organization providing free spay/neuter surgeries. Relying on grants, donations, and the sporadic services of volunteer veterinarians, AnimalViva has spayed or neutered more than 3,600 owned and homeless cats and dogs in local villages.

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