Why Sloths Celebrate Spay Day

Why Sloths Celebrate Spay Day

Today we are celebrating World Spay Day, and we have some very exciting news to share with you!

Where we live and work, in the South Caribbean of Costa Rica, dogs are steadily becoming one of the biggest problems that wild sloths face. In fact, dogs are now the second leading cause of death for wild sloths. A big part of this stems from the fact that dogs are often left to roam unsupervised around the areas where sloths live. Not only are these dogs attacking sloths as they move between trees on the ground, but they are also creating another big problem – unwanted street puppies. If dogs are allowed to roam freely and they are also not spayed or neutered – this only continues to exacerbate the problem.


spay dog sloth
                                                                   Photo: PetBase



For the last year, we have been working closely with dog rescue organization Puerto Viejo Dogs and the veterinary clinic Arroyo & Solano to help spay & neuter dogs in the local community. Together we spayed and neutered over 120 dogs in 2020… but we want to do more!


dog sloth spay
One of the dogs we spayed last year!


Surveying the community

This year we are determined to reach more dogs, help more people and to make the South Caribbean a safer place for wildlife. 

To do this we are carrying out surveys in the local community to gain a deeper understanding of the differences in attitudes towards dog ownership and the role that dogs play (we can’t expect to fix a problem without properly understanding it first!).

One of the most important things that we want to learn is what local residents think the biggest problems with dogs are in their area. 


dog survey spay


As you can see from our results so far, the biggest problems people report are:

  1. Owners not being responsible with their pets
  2. Attacks on wildlife
  3. Dogs not being on a leash
  4. Stray dogs.



dog survey spay

When we look at what people think is the best solution, the top 2 answers we receive are: more castration campaigns (that are free or cheaper) and dog training courses. So this year, we are implementing both!


Spay and Neuter campaigns to reach every dog

Our aim this year is to run 4 major castration campaigns, particularly in low-income areas and indigenous communities. These campaigns will all be free or subsidized for the local people. 

We will also be running a castration campaign in Tortuguero; a remote town located in the North Caribbean of Costa Rica. This area is one of the top places for turtle nesting, particularly for the endangered green sea turtle.


Tortuguero Beach ©Adrian Hepworth


In Tortugero dogs are causing a big problem for local wildlife by attacking not only sloths, but also turtles and their eggs. We are working with local organizations in Tortuguero to spay and neuter 90 dogs this year!

Training our dogs to help sloths

Starting in March, we will be hosting the first dog training courses in the South Caribbean.

We are going to bring professional dog trainers into our community and we will specifically focus on large dogs, dog breeds that have a high prey drive, and dogs that have already attacked wildlife.

We hope that by giving people the right tools, access to training and castrations, we will be able to substantially reduce the number of dog attacks on wildlife in the region. 


When sloths are on the ground they are very vulnerable to dog attacks, and they can´t defend themselves against this.


Let’s celebrate Spay Day together!

While it may seem a bit strange for us to be celebrating Spay Day, helping dogs also means helping sloths! Through this project we are hopeful that we can further enhance the peaceful coexistence of humans and wildlife in Costa Rica, and ultimately create a safer world for sloths. 

If you would like to learn more about this project, you can find more information here


spay dog


Thank you so much for your continued support of all of our work, we couldn’t do it without you! 


-Sarah Kennedy

Director of Education & Outreach

Oh My Dog! Coordinator