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The Trouble with Dogs on the Galapagos
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A few years and a few dozen rescues after Kiki, Lance expanded the scope of her work on the archipelago and founded the Galapagos Preservation Society (GPS). Its mission is to protect the islands’ fragile ecosystems and endemic species by humanely removing and rehoming non-native animals.

It’s a huge agenda, admits Lance, one that defies a single solution or a single organization. Not surprisingly, GPS works closely with DAD. Their shared approaches include introducing humane education into Galapagos schools, organizing spay-and-neuter campaigns, and getting animals in need adopted or off-island. GPS is also building alliances to check the smuggling of status breeds onto the Galapagos. They’re building dog fences, too. The fences offer families a way to keep their own “Kiki” safe from harm, while keeping everything else safe from Kiki.

It’s an exhausting, do-good agenda. And doesn’t Danielle Thompson know it. She’s the executive director of GPS and she’s nobody’s Pollyanna. Getting local government to support GPS programs, she says, “is like pulling teeth.”

“There’s a history of foreign groups handing out money to start programs,” says Thompson, “yet not engaging the local community. So nothing changes. The goal is to get people to want to make the changes themselves.”

In truth, neither Allison Lance of GPS nor Tod Emko of DAD believes any domestic animals, including humans, belong on the Galapagos. Given a voice, the islands’ Huskies, Shepherds, Retrievers and Beagles wouldn’t want to be there, either. It’s a place best suited to the creatures who evolved naturally in that zoological paradise. With all due respect to those astonishing residents, the Galapagos aren’t fit for a dog.

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 64: Apr/May 2011
Ketzel Levine is NPR Senior Correspondent for "Morning Edition" and has reported on everything from the restored prairie at the Bush ranch to the 100th anniversary of Madam Butterfly.

Photograph Vanessa Schulz © 2011

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