Darci Galati is the embodiment of how one idea can change lives. An avid traveler and entrepreneur by heart, Galati started her own business in 1994. With the help of her mother, the two women quickly grew the company they called Dargal (a shortened version of Darci Galati’s name), to become one of the largest interline travel companies in the U.K. and North America, grossing over $25 million per year in sales.
Galati sold Dargal in 2005, but stayed on as President until 2008. It was during this time of transition that Galati, a mom of three, took her daughters on a family vacation to Cancun, Mexico. It was there that the enormous problem of stray cats and dogs on the streets of Mexico came to light. Her daughters would help feed the animals throughout the day, but they were distraught at having to leave the animals behind, starving and having to fend for themselves. Galati promised her three children she would do something to make a difference, planting the seed for what would later be known as CANDi, Cats and Dogs International.
The idea evolved after Galati first considered building a shelter in Cancun. She soon realized without any veterinary facilities or families wanting to adopt homeless pets in the area, this idea would not be a viable solution. The idea for CANDi started to evolve when Galati realized she needed to use her business background and acumen in the travel industry to create a global opportunity to help animals. She also knew that it was of paramount importance to gain the support of the tourism industry in order to start this venture. Slowly, she began to build CANDi by running free spay/neuter clinics in Cancun twice a year. The need was so great that locals would literally fight each other for a place in line. The clinics proved to be a success and filled a gap in local communities.
The next few years were spent knocking on doors in tourist resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean, asking for support from the local government, hotel owners and tourist associations. With animal suffering so widespread on the streets, resort destinations like Puerto Rico were losing repeat tourism business because of the stray dog problem. The country’s solution was to round up the dogs in animal shelters, resulting in a staggering 98% euthanasia rate. Galati wanted to solve the problem sustainably and humanely, with a prototype that could be duplicated in any corner of the globe.
With that in mind, Galati built a model for CANDi which is duplicable in any country, to help end animal suffering. That model includes sterilization programs with a focus on spay, neuter, adoption and educational programs, supported and funded by the tourism industry, travelers and pet lovers.
To date, CANDi has focused in the communities surrounding Cancun, where they have provided ten free spay/neuter clinics, sterilizing over 10,000 animals, both owned and stray.
Galati continues to work tirelessly to educate the travel industry on humane options available at little to no cost for them to implement as part of their mission. “It wasn’t that long ago that hotel chains had not adopted any policies to be green and sustainable, and now it is such a widespread practice that it is fast becoming the norm. I hope we can see the adoption of humane practices added to those policies. My goal is to see the day when there is no more suffering on the streets of developing countries—for humans or animals,” says Galati.