August 23, 2009

2009 Veterinary Trip Re-Caps: Veterinary Ventures in Requeña.

Success in Requeña! 193 animals / 19 days: Vet Ventures & CARES at work.

This long-overdue article details the ambitious Veterinary collaboration between CARES and US based Veterinary Ventures.

On January 29, 2009, the volunteers of Veterinary Ventures returned to the US from an exhausting but rewarding 19-day trip to Requeña, Perú. In this remote location of the northern Amazon River basin, Vet Ventures volunteers joined Dr. Esther Peña & staff members of Amazon Community Animal Rescue, Education & Safety (Amazon CARES), based in Iquitos, Perú. All volunteers worked tirelessly to help the community control their struggle with canine overpopulation and the number of stray and unhealthy animals living on the streets.

During 19 days, the team spayed 91 dogs, neutered 87 dogs, 9 cat spays and 6 cat neuters. That is a total of 193 stray dogs and cats that will not be contributing to the stray population. These services were provided to street animals and owned animals of impoverished families – all free of charge.

A long-term method to resolve the animal overpopulation dilemma is an “Animal Birth Control” campaign. CARES and partner charities conduct free spay / neuter clinics for stray and owned animals. Throughout the year, Veterinary volunteers from all over the world join Amazon CARES on trips to remote communities along the Amazon.

Lacking humane options, the most common solution to animal overpopulation is mass poisoning of these innocent animals.

In 2006, the plight of the human and animals in Requeña reached a boiling point. The homeless animals were suffering as they struggled for food and daily survival. Many were victims of violence, injury, ridden with fleas and ill with a variety of diseases and parasites – some of which are communicable to humans. The residents were becoming sick and some afraid to leave their homes due to the number of feral cats and dogs running at large.

The Requeña authorities reacted quickly and in the most cost-effective way, they had - through the mass poisoning of almost 600 dogs.

This method of eliminating street dogs is inhumane and causes a long, painful death for animals. Some animals survive the poisoning, but never recover fully from this act of cruelty. The poison causes a great amount of environmental damage as well. The communities of the Amazon rarely have running water. Poison contaminates the land and water, the same water used for waste, fishing, laundry and bathing. Picture below left: Arriving in Requeña

This trip is a landmark for Amazon CARES. Under the scrutiny of the press, the Mayor of Requena, re-elected from the prior administration, solicited Amazon CARES to bring about a more humane solution to the stray population.

The distance and financial concerns made the trip impossible for the Peruvian charity. Dr. Jennifer Brown of Vet Ventures resolved this dilemma when she contacted the Amazon CARES USA Director, Molly Mednikow. When Dr. Brown learned of the situation, the volunteers of Vet Ventures mobilized quickly to provide their expertise and labor.

Requeña is located 250 km (155 miles) upriver from Iquitos. Government officials paid for the transport of volunteers on a cargo barge. The trip took over 18 hours to arrive in Requeña. Without a doubt, this is the most remote community that CARES has traveled to in order to provide their services!

The Government of Requena also provided the volunteers the use of the Tarapaca School for veterinary facilities. The prep and recovery area took up one classroom, and the surgery center occupied the second. the Government provided 24-hour security of the School premises, and 5 employees to assist in gathering the homeless animals for surgery and medical treatment.

Vet Ventures has already suggested a return trip, as they are committed to a multi-year program in order to achieve lasting results. CARES is especially grateful to Vet Ventures for the significant donations of equipment needed by CARES, including a gas anesthesia machine, a rare piece of equipment for any medical or veterinary clinic in the region. Dr. Peña estimates the value of these generous donations to be at least $5000.

Veterinary Ventures, founded in 2005, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing humane veterinary care to the under-served animals of the world. Dr. Joi Sutton is the Founder and President of Veterinary Ventures. Veterinary Ventures promotes, by providing direct veterinary services, the humane treatment and care of animals in needy regions of the world. Veterinary Ventures seeks areas of the world lacking adequate veterinary care. The goal is to collaborate with local animal groups to set up month-long spay/neuter campaigns in attempt to humanely control stray animal populations. Once a spay/neuter campaign has been established, Veterinary Ventures encourages local humane societies and animal care groups to institute long-term veterinary care. Their website is located at http://www.veterinaryventures.com.
Thank you sincerely to Veterinary Ventures and Founder Dr. Joi Sutton. They remain in touch with CARES vet Dr. Esther Peña and continue to send valuable donations of medical supplies.

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