We have had a lot of visitors at work over the past 2 weeks! For months now we have been planning for a group called Vet Ventures to come and help us reach our spay/neuter goals for this year. They are a voluntary group of veterinarians, technicians, and assistants from the U.S. who aim to bring veterinary care to the animals of the world. They have done numerous campaigns in the past, visiting other countries such as Peru, Fiji, and Mexico. One thing that makes this group more unique is that they bring a customized gas anesthesia machine that can do 4 animals at one time. Gas anesthesia is a safer option than the strictly injectable anesthesia that is often used.
Everyone on the Saga board of directors played a part in making this happen, but members Dawn and Kathy deserve a special thanks for their efforts. Ingrid also played a huge role in all of what led up to a successful 4 days of surgery here in San Pedro. It takes a village to make something like this happen! My involvement was almost completely centered around the actual days that we were hard at work on the ground. My Saga sponsored experience this year doing a similar type campaign in Roatan, Honduras was very helpful.
In total we visited 4 locations in 3 days. Vet Ventures brought over 10 team members. The first was in the DFC (near my house), then San Pedrito, then 2 days in San Mateo. In each case we were in the yard of a private home. These are all areas with plenty of intact dogs. By setting up right in the communities owners have easier access to get FREE care for their pet. At each location we set up in a similar style, with multiples tents, tables, chairs, and equipment. It was no easy task.
Setting Up on Day 1
Some owners would bring their dogs and cats to the “front desk” area and check in, others would be picked up and then delivered home later by the saga staff.
Ingrid and Dawn at Check-In
An Owner Checking In (left), Saga staffers Omar and Noemy Arriving with a Dog (right)
Prep and Surgery Areas
Belizean Vet Dr Baptist with Local Volunteer and Vet Hopeful Alexi
I spent much of my time supervising the recovery area. I had a handful of excellent volunteers to help me over the 4 days. Some had experience, others had never done anything similar before. All were attentive and eager to learn. We had a 100% survival rate each day.
Myself Monitoring Recovery
The Ladies of Recovery, Kathy, Hayley, Heather, Carlijn, Rebecca, and Margie
Even the press came to visit. Rebecca from the San Pedro Scoop not only volunteered but covered our event in her insanely popular local blog. The San Pedro Sun dropped by to find out what all the fuss was about. Lighthouse Christian Radio came for an interview with myself, Dr Baptist, and the two group leaders Dr Jennifer Brown and Dr Jennifer Betz.
Groggy Pets Looking Oh So Cute in Recovery
Overall, Vet Ventures was able to spay/neuter 136 dogs and cats. They also performed a handful of additional surgeries. On top of this over 200 additional pets got dewormed, and received heartworm/flea/tick prevention! It was such a pleasure to be part of this event.
Now, based on the title, you’re thinking….what about the sharks she promised?! Well, it the midst of all this hard work, the group was able to take a snorkel trip to Hol Chan, Shark Ray Alley, and up north near Tranquility Bay. They were so lucky to have dive master and boat captain Edgar (Ingrid’s husband and overall great guy) from Amigos del Mar to take them out for a day that can only be described as relaxingly awesome. Ingrid and I tagged along too!
Snorkeling with Sharks, Fish, and Turtles
Shark Ray Alley
Enjoying our Lunch Stop
Edgar Cooking up Fresh Ceviche with Conch we Harvested Ourselves
What a crazy 10 days!!