In our December 2013 blog, we wrote about the volunteer work our team members do every year. This includes supporting the Winn Feline Foundation, the Terry Fox Run, the Farley Foundation and Ottawa’s Cat Rescue Network. Our veterinarians also help homeless and neglected animals through the Ottawa Humane Society and Community Veterinary Outreach.
This month, we want to tell you about two volunteer projects in other countries where our Cat Hospital veterinarians have made a difference in the lives of animals and their owners.
Dr. Amy Lowe, Honduras
Dr. Amy Lowe travelled to Honduras for the third time this June with the Holy Spirit Medical Brigade, a volunteer-based organization which provides veterinary care for small and large animals as well as dental care for human patients who have no access to these services. Veterinary care includes vaccinations and deworming, as well as spaying and neutering. This year, Dr. Lowe headed one of two small animal teams which together treated about 700 animals, made up of mostly cats and dogs but also some chickens and pigs!
The veterinary and dentistry teams, consisting of about 20 people, are stationed in a small village outside of Tegucigalpa and visit several of the surrounding villages each day, setting up a mobile clinic in the back of a pick-up truck. Dr. Lowe says of her experiences, “It’s great to see the animals that have been sterilized and treated in previous years doing well, and of course the welcome we receive from the villagers themselves when we arrive. They truly appreciate the work that we do and we are able to see an improvement in the overall health of the animals from year to year.”
Dr. Susan Little, Galapagos Islands
It was the dream of a lifetime to visit the Galapagos Islands for Dr. Little, and what better way to do it than with an international volunteer veterinary team. There is very little veterinary care available for the cats and dogs owned by villagers on the islands, let alone for the stray animals.
Animal Balance is a volunteer organization that has been going to the Galapagos for 10 years to provide free spay/neuter services. Their work has markedly decreased the number of stray animals. This is good not only for the health of the cats and dogs, but also decreases predation of indigenous animals, many of which are unique and protected.
The 12 member international team came from Canada, the U.S., England, Trinidad and Chile. Each team member paid their own travel and lodging expenses and donated thousands of dollars of veterinary equipment.
Since there are no veterinary clinics on the islands, the team brought every single piece of equipment and all medical supplies with them, traveling on trucks, buses, and various types of boats.
Mobile veterinary units were set up in three locations on two of the main islands, Santa Cruz and Isabela. Dr. Little said, “This was the hardest work I have ever done in my life in the most amazing location!” Reports on the campaign can be found on the Animal Balance blog. In total, 240 dogs and cats were surgically sterilized and essential medical care (mainly parasite control) was provided for other animals that were already spayed or neutered.
At the end of the project, Dr. Little had the chance to enjoy the islands, seeing the unique wildlife including marine iguanas, giant tortoises, sea lions, sea turtles, and the comic blue-footed booby!
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