San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Women Work to Change Culture of Animal Abuse

Anyone living in Nicaragua has seen it on the streets of Managua, Granada and Rivas: dogs limping across the street dangling a broken leg, a beaten and starving horse pulling a heavy cart, a toucan being sold on a street corner.

We have all seen a driver trying to force a skinny horse to pull a huge load of rocks uphill, beyond the physical capacity of the horse. We’ve seen a man kicking his dog and children killing a songbird with a slingshot.

Cultural attitudes toward the treatment of animals in Nicaragua are so different from those in the United States and Europe. The popular culture in Nicaragua accepts and even approves of abuse of animals.

The Association for the Protection of Animals (APA), is a Nicaraguan nonprofit organization working to relieve the suffering of domestic and wild animals in Nicaragua. It was formed by a small group of valiant Nicaraguan women who are trying to change the attitudes of their countrymen.

APA is legally incorporated and registered with the government. The members of the board and other volunteers carry out a modest program of education in the schools and staging general animal health clinics in poor barrios.

In recent years they have worked to promote a new law for the protection of animals in Nicaragua. They have done all of this on a total annual budget that’s pretty close to nothing.

During the past two years, APA has come to the attention of the Humane Society International, an affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States. APA now has one full-time staff member, Grisela Torres, who works untiringly to help animals and to recruit more volunteers to their cause.

APA offers animal health clinics, providing de-parasiting, wound care, and vitamins to injured and ill household animals in Managua, Masaya and León. The Nestlé corporation has donated substantial quantities of dog and cat food to APA, which the organization donates to the owners of the animals who come to the barrio clinics.

APA has also offered several health clinics for horses near La Chureca, Managua’s main garbage dump, where hundreds of cart horses work daily. This year they held their first spay and neuter clinic for dogs and cats.

APA also works with The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA) and the National Zoo in Managua in efforts to stop trafficking in wild animals and birds, which is common in Nicaragua. They coordinate their rescue efforts with the national police in the municipalities, where they have volunteers working.

APA welcomes volunteers to assist in their public education efforts, clinics, fundraising events, World Animal Week activities, and communications. APA would love to have one or more U.S. veterinarians come to Nicaragua to do surgery clinics.

To read more about APA, go to Any animal lovers out there interested in helping please email APA at


Carole Harper lived in Nicaragua from 1986 to 1990, working as country director for Habitat for Humanity, and later retired to Nicaragua in 2004. She is currently living in California where she is a state administrative law judge.

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