In this episode, we talk with India Le Marinel. Originally from the UK, India has traveled and lived all over the world. She grew up surrounded by pets and has always been very passionate about animal welfare. After studying for a bachelor of science degree in Conservation Biology at The University of Aberdeen, India decided to travel on her own to explore the world, volunteering on various marine conservation and animal projects throughout her travels. Her travel took her to Guatemala where she volunteered with a local Animal Welfare NGO while living in Antigua and she ended up managing that shelter for over a year. She is now the Manager of the Hope for the Animals Program at Mayan Families, India uses her experience to help improve animal welfare in the Lake Atitlán region. To learn more about Hope for the Animals and Mayan Families, you can visit there website, https://www.mayanfamilies.org/page/animals
Welcome to the Professionals and Animal Rescue podcast, where goal is to introduce you to amazing people helping animals and share how you can get involved with animal rescue. This’ll Podcast is proudly sponsored by Joubert dot com. Do Bert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters and the only site that automates rescue relate Transport. Now on with our show today, we’re speaking with India. They Mary, now originally from the U. K and E, has traveled and lived all over the world. She grew up surrounded by pets and has always been very passionate about animal welfare. After studying for a bachelor of science degree in conservation biology at the University of Everdeen, India decided to travel on her own to explore the world, volunteering on various marine conservation and animal projects throughout her travels, her travel eventually Tucker to Guatemala, where there is a significant stray animal population problem. India volunteer with the local animal welfare NGO while living in Antigua, and she ended up managing that shelter for over a year. Now is manager of the Hope for Animals program. At my in families India uses for experience to help improve animal welfare in the Lake Adeline region. The Hope for Animals program supports animal welfare and a number of different ways. They worked to relieve the suffering of stray and abandoned animals. They provide spay neuter clinics and humane education to the local community. And they rescue and re home animals and even coordinate international adoptions in the United States. Hey, and deal. Welcome to the program. Hey, Thank you. Thank you for having me. So tell us a little bit about you. Okay? Well, I I grew up in the UK Um, but we traveled all around, um, as a family I’ve always loved. Animals have always We’ve always had pits. And I was I was the kid that, uh, volunteered with vets and, um, NGOs and centuries and stuff. Um, I went to university in Aberdeen and study conservation biology. And then, after university, I decided to travel somewhere in my own. I’m so, uh, traveled Australia and New Zealand through Honduras on. Guy was volunteering on the animal program marine conservation programs throughout my travels. Ana in water. Mama, I got the chance to volunteer whether local animal welfare, NGO and, uh, ended up managing the shelter though with them for a year and now. So I’m still in Guatemala. On that. You stay. Yeah, it was supposed to be two months, and, uh, that was a couple of years ago, and now we work with Mayan families with managing their animal welfare program. So, um, I love being able to work with the animals and, um, really make a and make a difference. Originally, I thought it would be more conservation research sort of based, but having taken advantage of the opportunity here, I I really love working with the dogs and cats, and that’s so put it in perspective for us. A conservation biology degree. Um, would normally lead you to do what? Like what type of work would you normally do with that? Well, it’s it opens up like a broad arranged for me. I have traveled all my life, and so I really wanted to incorporate travel so it would be for me. I’ve always fought. It was more like research. Um, you know, like in somewhere tropical and beautiful. I didn’t want Teoh initially go straight onto my masters or anything that I wanted to take some time out on what with NGOs and just see what was what was going on. Really. But, um, yeah, I think it’s. I see it more as a sort of a research field, and it’s more popular, more expanded these days that there’s so much you can you can do with it. IHS working with with animals or habitats or even things like climate change and stuff, they would be involved in it now these days. So give us some perspective, them from your travels. I mean, you’re in a unique position. You were raised in the UK You’ve traveled to Australia, New Zealand and Honduras. What is the state of animal welfare like in some of these other countries? Well, I find it me, I think, um, I think the states is similar to the UK Ah, the animal welfare is, um, more highly regarded, like back home. I know if you have a family pet, they’re part of the family. You know that they’re often really spoiled their their major part of your family. Whereas I find in in Guatemala and, ah, Honduras, it’s a It’s a different attitude towards animals that more seen as like for work more almost, almost like property rather than a family member. Um, like, if you have a dog, then it’s to guard your house. All the horse or doggie is it’s for the work for pulling loads, and there is less empathy. This isn’t like broad scale. There are a lot of people here that have animals that on glove them, but just sort of on a cultural level. Um, I find it is different. Animals are regarded less as a priority over people. Yes, so So tell us how you got involved with my in families and maybe tell us a little bit about what my in families does. So, yeah, Living in in in Guatemala, I Mayan families were looking for someone to, um, her to manager there. Animal welfare, um, program mine families is ah, it’s a 501 c three nonprofit were based in in Panama Shell, which is in the Lake Atitlan region in Guatemala. The organization Lion Family started in 2005 as a response to the destruction off Hurricane Stan. There, if us is educate, feed, shelter and he’ll basically aimed to collaborate on work with communities to produce sustainable positive, uh, growth and solutions for for them. Um, a lot of the communities we work with our, um, very low income or under the poverty level. And we tried to provide support on, um, sustainable practices so that they can basically give opportunities for them to develop themselves, such as the education response to students through pre school through to university. We have well, basically, since 2000 and five million families has expanded dramatically. We now seven 12,000 beneficiaries, um, in several different communities on where the largest community development organization in Lake Catalan. And we went closely with these communities, many off the majority of the staff. Ah, Guatemalan and from the local area that we work in. So we have ties within the communities and collaborate with them to help with any problems or needs that that the local community define. So, yeah, I I I personally liked the the focus on, um of mine founders because it does work on a community level. It deals with multiple issues. Andi helps people helps give them the opportunity to to get an education or to help with your emergency help is well, but it gives people like a hand up. You know, bacon they can help themselves more, and I find that sometimes it’s sometimes it’s a lack of opportunity that can affect people you know more like. And that’s I like for me, the mind families like the community level response I think is is important on them is it’s it’s it’s a good way of going about it and will provide more opportunities for for those communities, like as a community, t develop themselves and move in in a direction that works for through them. Yeah, it’s It’s a really amazing organization just to hear you talk about it. And I was checking out the website and for everybody’s benefit, it’s Mayan families dot org’s, and it was really amazing to me. The number of programs that my in families offers and and the hope for the animals is just one of the programs that are really designed to benefit the community. And that’s the one that you focus on the most, right, So that’s a little bit about what your work is with the Hope for the Animals program. So with the hope of the animals program, um, we be aimed Teoh help control the problem with the the stray animals in the area. Um, we offer Spain you two clinics, vaccination clinics, and we also we work with the communities and promote humane education. Andi information about animal welfare and proper pet care. Onda we were possible. We rescue on, rehabilitate, abandoned or injured animals and rehabilitate them for our for adoption so that they eventually we’ll find their own good homes. Yeah, that’s really cool. Now what is the what is the state of animal welfare like you talked a little bit about it before? But are there adoptable homes there in Guatemala or what do you do for the animals in Guatemala? The local adoption rate is not very high. It’s not very common. There are several reasons for this, uh, that in my experience, I’ve seen partly as especially around where we work. Like Catalan region, often times people can’t afford to to have ah, pets. If you’re some families will be struggling to feed their Children, and I’ll get it the proper education for them and stuff So another mouth to feed being a dog or a cat is not high on the priority list. And also, culturally, Guatemalans tend to if they do want to pet, Um, if they tend to only want a specific breed, you know, like a husky or a German shepherd or a dog that that specifically looks like that breathed in the ones that we rescue or the local street dogs that we went with their old, uh, mixed breeds. I think they’re beautiful, but they’re not. You can’t say, you know that’s a husky or what not. Um, so that plays a factor. So we look at, ah, international adoptions. We have sent dogs to the U. S. And Canada and these are actually that, like the main viable adoption route for finding the animals homes because unfortunately, just locally it it’s not really feasible. So yeah, we can we can send them to to the US Sometimes we have volunteers come down that fall in love with a dog or, um, people see them on on our Facebook page or or your website on duh we can We can arrange adoptions that way, and we also work with We work with kids up Humane Society and Washington. You are brilliant and they welcome best to take some of the dogs, some of our dogs there, and they find them homes and the dogs go up and some of them get adopted like within within a week. Teoh A few days, which is is incredible. And it’s so nice to see them, you know, go to go to a good home. Sure. So now do you have volunteers that come down, you know, on vacation and then end up, you know, hoping to transport an animal back? Yeah. Yet we dio we have what? My family’s welcomes volunteers. And, um, I have plenty of puppies and dogs and cats that would love socialization. So if anybody is interested in coming down, as always, lost to do, But we can yes, uh, they can. When I sent to the States there I’ve ascent with pet safe program that consent the animals up on their own, or if someone is willing to help take them back. I wrote to the doctors themselves or to to a new home. Then it’s like with the airlines. You just you take them on like it. It’s your pet. So it is a little bit of added expense to the airline ticket, but we would cover all the all the expenses. It’s just you take what? We meet you at the airport with the animal, and you help check them in and then pick them up on the other end and get them to the you own. A very interesting. That must be a lot of work to coordinate and find volunteers. I mean, if people are listening to this, how do they get involved? Because you guys were in Guatemala, right? We’re here in the US And what what can they do to help? They could do multiple things to help. The best way is to you can shoot me an email directly told for animals at my and families dot ogg on. If you’re coming down on vacation, um, and want to visit the program or see about what we do, then you’re more than welcome to to visit, um, the office on, um, if you can’t visit but just want to organize help with flights or then we can just email that and organize meeting you at the airport and stuff, But otherwise simple things like spreading the word about you know what we do and that we’re here, um, like our Facebook page. If you were to follow that or even to share the posts. The more people that know about us, that can be the difference between a dog finding a home or, um, us getting a potential volunteer. Oh, or something. I think in the animal welfare community, I think, um, like outreach and word of mouth. You know, people talking about stuff is so important because there’s so many people that are that, you know, are interested in helping or seeing what they can do. And just even one of the best ways is having a friend. They all, you know, I know about this program or I went to visit there, and I think that’s really important. And also, obviously, there’s you can you can donate. You can donate to mine families or to the specifically the Hope for Animals program on and you can adopt if you want a beautiful little Guatemalan. Yeah. Yeah, that. Let’s be fun. Um, so when you got into animal rescue, was there a person or organization that really was your inspiration early on? Oh, I grew up in the UK and we had Ah, David Amber. I was like my hero Looker. It had all the the nature documentaries um, I grew up watching those, and I’ve always been I’ve always been a big animal lover, and he his documentaries has got me excited about traveling and seeing the world and conservation and stuff. So that’s kind of what sent me into, like studying conservation. Andi think thes days. I just like I said, like, the animal welfare community is so big and that’s there are so many people doing doing incredible things. It’s quite like for me, working in an animal welfare. It’s really inspiring for me to see organizations such as Even like like the kids have humane society who I work with, um, like soy dog in Thailand, even though I don’t know if you know, but the kitten lady, you know, like people advocating for animals. I think it’s just it’s a great like community to be part of on board. I find all the rescue stories on and, um, self just so inspiring and motivating, and it’s it’s kind of humbling. You know, Teoh, to see so much like so many people will still passionate about what they do it, that that inspires me and with my my work. And, um, I run the Facebook page and and I talked with and get to know some of these people in in the organizations. So it’s it’s really it’s really special. Yeah, the animal rescue community definitely is a very inspirational community. I can’t I can’t disagree with you there. So India’s or anything else you wanted to share with our listeners know, I think that’s mainly it. I just I would just say that if you know, if you do want to get involved in an animal rescue or, you know in anything helping with animals, really just just to do, do so like you can volunteer or you can even help online. Or I would just talk to your local rescue or two or two, you know, places if you’re going on vacation, that’s generally always somewhere that you could possibly volunteer. What not, But for me, I kind of the opportunities come up and just to take advantage of those, and it doesn’t take a lot of time or a lot of effort or money or, you know, to make a big difference, like you can make a difference to to an animal’s life. We’ve just even one donation or one share off post. Andi, if we all went together than I think, it would be a better for for the animals on the communities. And just just to take advantage of of any opportunities you have. And don’t feel that, you know, just because it’s a small thing, you won’t be making a difference like you really will. Yeah, no, that’s a great point. Well, thank you, India, for what you do. And thank you for coming on the program today. Thank you for having me. Thanks for tuning into today’s podcast if you’re not already a member, joined the Air p A. To take advantage of all the resources we have to offer. And don’t forget to sign up with do bert dot com. It’s free and helps automate the most difficult tasks in animal rescue.