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GAIN, Boonie Flight Project merge to tackle Guam's stray animals problem



By Pacific Island Times News Staff


Boonie Flight Project and Guam Animals In Need (GAIN) have joined forces to address the pressing issue of stray animals on Guam.


As of Feb. 16, the organizations have partnered with the aim of creating sustainable change and reducing the number of strays on the island through humane population control efforts. Boonie Flight Project, which was founded in April 2021 by Lauren Cabrera and Kelsey Graupner, has flown over 500 dogs to adopters across the country, raising awareness of Guam's unique island mutts. With the merger, BFP will now operate under GAIN's non-profit umbrella. In addition to the merger, Cabrera, co-founder of Boonie Flight Project, has stepped into the role of GAIN president.


Cabrera expressed her gratitude to the outgoing president Cyrus Luhr. “Our previous President, Cyrus Luhr, has done a tremendous amount of work over the years to improve animal welfare on Guam. I am thankful to continue working with him," Cabrera said.


Luhr will continue to serve on the GAIN board of directors. “It made a lot of sense to combine BFP with GAIN. We've been working closely together towards the same goals for a while now — we get most of our flight dogs from GAIN, and help with the SNIP spay/neuter clinics,” Cabrera said. “We are so thrilled to be officially part of the GAIN family”. Luhr added, "the team at Boonie Flight Project is incredibly talented, caring, and driven, and it's been incredibly rewarding collaborating with them over the past two years. By working together, we can continue building on our collective strengths and create a better future for Guam's animals."


Luhr expressed his excitement about the partnership and the potential it holds for improving animal welfare on Guam. "The stray dog problem has been a longstanding problem on Guam. In recent years, as the stray population continues to grow, it's become a particularly high-profile issue. Thankfully, the government is investing in solutions," according to Cabrera.


GAIN received government funding specifically to tackle the stray dog problem, which helped fund over 2,575 affordable spay/neuter surgeries of dogs over the past year; Cabrera says she expects an even higher number of sterilizations to be completed this year. GAIN is also finalizing blueprints for expanding kennel capacity. By working together, GAIN and BFP hope to make a significant impact on the issue of stray dogs on Guam. "Controlling the dog population is not just for the animals' welfare, but it also creates significant benefits for local ecology, tourism, and public health," said Cabrera.


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Cabrera is also optimistic about the future of animal welfare on Guam thanks to efforts by the Guam Department of Agriculture and the Mayors Council of Guam.


"The Guam Department of Agriculture expanded its Animal Control division from 3 to 6 officers last year, adding significant training and procedural improvements in the process. And the Mayors have always been extremely helpful, especially at the village level, and they deserve full support,” Cabrera said. "It's going to take a lot of work to solve Guam's stray dog problem. But with the amazing staff and volunteers at GAIN, and our incredible partners at the Guam Department of Agriculture and the Mayors Council of Guam, I'm confident we have the right team to achieve this,” she added.


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