After a few anticipatory weeks, emailing back and forth, and organizing our schedules with the volunteer coordinator at PEACE, and waiting for the right location and dates, today was our first day helping out at the spay and neuter clinics in the Banderas bay area. I would have to say the conditions were very different from what we have at home, although I was not at all surprised when we initially showed up. One of the town’s residents had offered their front veranda and yard for this particular 4 day clinic.
There were kennels and cages stacked up in the yard, some with up to 4 dogs in them, many of them pups, and most malnurished, unkempt or mangy. Under the veranda Lalo (the director) took us over to a table with blankets spread over top, and I barely noticed the little kitty tails sticking out from under them. There was 5 of them, all waking up from anesthetic (ketamine actually- what we sedate kids with for simple procedures, only the cats took WAY longer to wake up at 1/10 the dose per kilo). On the other side of the veranda were two stainless steel tables propped up on blocks for height, and two vets doing their magic, one pet at a time. Beside me, a vet student, Paulina was prepping the dogs and cats for surgery, by inserting the IV’s, intubating, and taping their little eyes closed. Every now and then, someone would bring in a dog, or a cat, or a truck load full (6 from one home) to take advantage of the free service.
In the past (and unfortunately still) dogs are poisoned in garbage left on the streets by people who don’t think they have any other options, or just hate animals. I’ve already heard of two cases of Americans who’ve moved down here and had their pets poisoned in their backyard, or on a leashed walk. Although you do see locals treating their animals like family members, there is still fear and dislike (especially towards large dogs like Nixon), even from what we’ve seen here at the condo with some of the Mexican residents here on holiday. They shriek and gasp, and avoid us when walking past on the street. I think its a little funny, since he’s the biggest suck around, BUT we can definitely use it to our advantage if we need “protection”. On the other hand, two work guys (on separate occasions) at the condo rang our doorbell when Nixon was in the pool because they were worried that he’d fallen in and couldn’t get out! Needless to say, Nixon is happy to stay here on the condo grounds, away from the fleas, ticks, mange, and puppy poison. You could say he’s “sheltered”, and hasn’t had a car ride in over 5 weeks. Poor guy! He has no idea how lucky he is.
Since the efforts began in 2003 (and with PEACE starting in 2005), the spay and neuter clinics have done wonders to control both street dogs/cats and the pet population (often left to roam) in the Banderas Bay area. The “A” in PEACE stands for “Ayuda a los Animales” which “aims to decrease the number of unwated animals in Mexico, and at the same time educate communities about the humane treatment of pets and other local animals.” (www.peacemexico.org annual report 2008, p.4) In 2008 alone, they treated over 3500 animals in 35 different towns.
The little fella below reminded us of Nixon, with a non-stop tail wag. He’s a little skinny, but otherwise not too shabby looking. Here he can barely keep his eyes open after the first round of meds.
The vet student, Paulina examining the above dog, and getting him ready for surgery.
Josh doing a round of vitals on the first group of kitties. There were about 5-6 at a time to check heart rate, resp rate, and rectal temperature. You really had to bug them to wake up afterwards, by picking them up by the scruff and bum, and watching for any movement, turning them every 20 minutes, then sometimes they’d throw up their breakfast, which was quickly followed by a dose of heartworm medication, tape removal from the eyes, and off to a kennel to recover more. Some took almost 2 hours to wake. Stubborn cats. Their vitals are quite close to a newborn or young infant, only they are more difficult to get a resp rate, especially when you’re trying to keep them all warm under the blanket.
Below is turning time, trying to position them all with the proper pages of documentation, and checking to see if they will stir or lick their lips. Their tongues hang out and go dry, so I’d try to poke them back in. Not much luck there. On the far edge (the black and white) is a dog who didn’t want to wake up. He was in the roughest shape of all the dogs, with fleas, ticks, mange, and other issues as well. We checked his corneal reflex a few times, and waited until we had a cough/sputter before taking out his breathing tube, then off to his kennel with 3 siblings. He made me a little itchy, likely psychological.
Here you can see the surgery tables and all the supplies in their individual bins. They do a pretty job keeping everything clean, considering the circumstances, and with budget in mind, they recycle and clean what they can. It seems they can always use the donation of items, from needles to gauze, kennels, “blue pads”, to vaseline and blankets. I’ll try to get a more comprehensive list of needed items over the next few days so if anyone wants to donate items (or money) to their cause you can.
Check out their website for more information at www.peacemexico.org or if you want to donate to the PEACE organization, here are the details:
DONATIONS ARE TAX DEDUCTIBLE
Make checks out to PEACE, Inc.
C/O Alisha Quinn Bosco
PO BOX 6161
Vail, CO 81658