Over the last 17 years, we have had the pleasure of working alongside many caring and hardworking women who use their voices to take a stand and help protect animals around the world. In honor of International Women’s Day, we want to recognize three outstanding women championing animal rights and welfare. From advocating for abused dogs in Spain to making spay and neuter services accessible in Panama to caring for thousands of strays in Lebanon, there is no challenge too big for these inspiring women to tackle. Join us in celebrating Helena Hesayne (BETA), Patricia Chan (Spay Panama), Anna Clements (SOS Galgos), and all the other powerful women working tirelessly to improve the lives of animals.
Helena Hesayne (Beirut Ethical Treatment for Animals – BETA)
In 2006, Helena came across Beirut Ethical Treatment for Animals (BETA) volunteers at a Garden Show. Still grieving from the passing of her German Shepherd, Brooks, Helena decided she wanted to start volunteering with BETA. Helena instantly fell in love with their work and, by 2008, decided to take a step back from her job as an architect to focus on animal rescue. Since then, she has been serving as the Vice-President of BETA. Helena shares, “It’s not easy in Lebanon. There is a lot of frustration, sadness and sometimes anger. We cannot save them all, but the ones we do, bring us so much joy and love, and when they are adopted and we see them happy in their loving home, it makes it worth it! And on the plus side, we get to meet so many amazing people in rescues around the World.”
BETA founded Lebanon’s first no-kill shelter and developed the first TNR program (Trap, Neuter and Return) in cooperation with municipalities. Since its inception in 2004, BETA has rescued and cared for over 5,500 stray dogs, cats, donkeys, horses and birds. Currently, BETA’s shelter houses over 1,000 animals who all get showered with love by Helena and the dedicated volunteers working alongside her daily.
Pat Chan (Spay Panama)
Pat Chan has always had a soft spot for animals. As a child, she went to the circus, and while all the other children smiled and laughed, she couldn’t help but see the suffering in the animals’ eyes. Her heart broke for them at that moment, and Pat couldn’t understand why no one else saw their pain. In 2000, while driving to work and seeing how many defenseless stray animals were near the road, Pat decided she had to do something to help them. It became her dream to stop the suffering of Panama’s street animals, and after some research, Pat decided the best way to do this was by humanely preventing overpopulation. Shortly after, Pat founded SpayPanama.
SpayPanama hosts sterilization clinics for stray animals and offers free and low-cost spay and neuter services to low-income families nationwide. Thanks to Pat’s determination and her incredible team of over 100 volunteers from around the world, SpayPanama has sterilized more than 170,000 animals and prevented millions from reaching the street to live a life of pain and suffering.
Anna Clements (SOS Galgos)
Anna Clements has always advocated for the well-being of animals. In 1999, after a Barcelona greyhound track’s closure, Anna decided to fight for the 700 racing greyhounds living in terrible conditions. By 2000, she had co-founded SOS Galgos to bring awareness to the plight of galgos. Anna has spent the last two decades on the front lines, rescuing galgos used for hunting from suffering terrible treatment and horrific death and demanding legislative action to protect these animals. While laws in Spain still do not protect galgos, Anna’s work has tremendously impacted how most Spaniards view galgos. Twenty years ago, galgos were not common pets. Now, it is common to see galgos enjoying a walk on a leash, being loved and cared for.
SOS Galgos has rescued and rehomed over 4000 galgos. They strive to promote the galgo as a companion animal in Spain, bring attention to the plight of the galgos to members of the European Parliament, and educate children in schools to help break the cycle of cruelty and promote empathy towards all animals.