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Our Mission

Our mission at Amici Cannis is to provide free sterilization and veterinary care for the street dogs and cats of Cotacachi, low cost sterilization for the pets of families in need, and to offer the highest quality veterinary care to your beloved pets. To further our mission, we are committed to on-going public education about animal welfare.


About the Foundation

Cotacachi is a lovely town of approximately 9000 people situated in the highlands of Ecuador, and known for its leather goods.  However, there is a sad reality that overshadows Cotacachi’s beauty. There are many homeless dogs wandering the streets; most are hungry, some injured and sick, and many that will never know the comfort and security of having a home.

The Amici Cannis Foundation began in 2012, founded by a group of big-hearted expats who would raise money would through bake sales and fundraising dinners. Veterinarians from around Ecuador would be sought out to help host sterilization campaigns, which were held at community centers. Although the intent was great, and these clinics were of benefit to the individual dogs and cats and their families, it was not enough to impact the overall dog overpopulation problem.

In 2015 Dr. Heather Steyn came to Cotacachi to visit, and after witnessing a dog get hit by a car, and dying in her arms, she immediately said “I need to help”. She sought out the volunteers who were part of the foundation, and very quickly became the missing piece that was needed to make the difference.

In April of 2016, the Amici Cannis Animal Hospital proudly opened the doors to their state-of-the-art, fully equipped animal hospital and low-cost Spay/Neuter facility. We currently have 1 full-time veterinarian, 2 technicians, an administrator and a volunteer Mobile Response Unit Officer.  There are also five North American veterinarians who donate their services ranging from orthopedic surgery, radiology, and behavioral consults to advanced dentistry. A robust group of local volunteers is always ready and willing to help out with special projects and events when required.

So, what have we been doing since April 2016?

We have Spayed and Neutered over 6000 dogs and cats as of 2020. With the help of the local municipality we have held Spay/Neuter clinics in over 20 indigenous communities. We have helped countless numbers of street dogs with health problems ranging from broken bones, poisoning and infectious diseases, and found forever-homes for many more.

We have instituted a roaming dog population census, and are proud to report that the dog population within the town of Cotacachi has stabilized- and it shows! There are visibly fewer dogs roaming the streets, and those dogs are in better physical condition. We see fewer dogs that are in-heat, pregnant, or struggling to raise puppies without enough food in their bellies.  In short, the lives of street dogs in Cotacachi have improved dramatically!

How is all of this possible?

We are grateful for the vision of Dr. Heather Steyn, the dedication of our staff, and the support of our volunteers. None of this would have been possible, however, without the generous contributions of our donors – both in monetary gifts, as well as gifts of equipment, supplies and expertise. Our well-equipped animal hospital also offers high-quality care for locally owned pets, and the proceeds of these services go towards our programs that need on-going funding.


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