Here is a guest blog from Nicole about Manna's first annual pet sterilization clinic:
In the community of Rumiloma, stray dogs roam the streets, making bus stops or sidewalks their homes. Without medical attention, these dogs carry disease throughout the community and freely reproduce. While spaying and neutering pets is more common in the United States, cultural and financial barriers prevent it from being the norm in Ecuador. The surgery costs a minimum of $100, about half of the average Ecuadorian monthly income.
Emily Samson, lead PD on the PHC program, recognized this issue early on and began brainstorming ways to answer such a fundamental need in our community. This past weekend, we hosted our first spay/neuter clinic; not only was this event a first for Manna, but it was the first clinic for our community of Rumiloma. The clinic was thought up, designed, and executed by our Preventative Health Care program with the assistance of the other PDs, including the new 2012-2013 PDs – their first big community event! Protección Animal Ecuador, a local Ecuadorian organization, provided volunteer veterinarians and technicians. We were also able to obtain some supplies from local organizations, while the remainder was purchased with our monetary donations.
The event started with a Friday night charla (lecture) at the Centro where people received their coupon for the next day’s clinic. The attendance was overwhelming, with more than 70 people in attendance, and our good friend and veterinarian, Christian, agreed to add an additional 20 surgeries to the agenda. The next morning, we were beat to the plaza by an eager group of community members waiting patiently and excitedly with their pets. After set-up and extensive training for all the PDs, we began the constant stream of surgeries that lasted from 9:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. PDs and vets were all hard at work with stations including: registration, shaving, administering medicine, operating on the animals, cleaning the tools, nursing the animals back to health, and returning them to their owners with extensive follow- up instructions. We all got our hands dirty—some of us very dirty—as we worked together to cover every need and step of the way. Despite a late start (an early one, on Ecuador time!), everything ran incredibly smoothly from start to finish.
While I loved being by the operating table watching and taking pictures of the swiftness with which our amazing vets did everything, some of the most memorable moments were returning the animals to their owners and being greeted with such heart-felt thanks by them. New PD Peter Wagner got to work closely with one of our vets and even at the end of a very long day reported that “the sterilization clinic was a great success and very rewarding to be a part of. I couldn’t think of a better project to get our feet wet working with Manna and the community.” Sometimes community development work is difficult; you do not immediately see the benefits of your work. However, 71 pets and a crowd of happy and extremely thankful onlookers are hard to overlook.
A very special thanks to all of our donors, who helped us purchase the supplies, Christian Guachamin and Protección Animal Ecuador for their collaboration and hard work, and Emily Samson, who instills in all of us a love for animals and desire for their health and well-being, whose dream and determination made this possible.