April 30, 2010

Sunsets and Monkeys

The North Face Logo

Written by Dr. Annie Cook, a continuation of her blog post from mid-April.

There is no denying it and I think my facebook photos say it all "I LOVE SUNSETS" and there is no better place to see and photograph sunsets than the Amazon. The sky is a broad arc of blue dotted with cloud. The colour and light remind me of the romance painters and even I could be inspired to take up a brush but fortunately my digital camera whilst not doing the scene justice spares me the disappointment of trying to paint.  The massive expanse of water reflects every nuance of the sky from puffy white cotton to brooding black storm clouds and the pinks, purples, red and yellows of sunset. I find myself expectantly waiting from 5.30pm onwards to see what masterpiece will unfold. It never disappoints and even on evenings when the horizon is blurred by mist the sun throws out a flare of light as it dips below the horizon outlining the clouds in an array of colours. I cannot take credit for any photographic genius for it has not taken any artistic talent to record these magnificent moments.

It has been a good week for work as well as sunsets. I spent a day at the Amazon Cares Jungle Shelter attending to our resident rescue dogs. It was enlightening to work with such a variety of happy, healthy, affectionate animals. It is due to the diligence of  Harry, Gustavo and the rest of the Amazon Cares team that these animals are so well socialised. Especially when you consider the  desperate physical and mental state they arrive in  - unloved, abandoned and often abused. We are currently starting a campaign around Iquitos to encourage animal adoptions and will be putting leaflets regarding our animals around the city. It is my hope that we will get many adopted this year. It has been an auspicious start to the campaign as one of our long term residents Sysy was adopted at the weekend.

I was fortunate to spend the weekend on Monkey Island at the invitation of the founder Gilberto Guerra Reateguiin in order to assess the monkeys current health. The island was established as a sanctuary for orphans of the bushmeat and pet trade and is now home to 42 monkeys including spider, woolly, titi and red howler monkeys, marmosets and tamarins. There have been ongoing problems with mange in the Woolly Monkeys and Amazon Cares is generously donating a bottle of ivermectin to assist with the treatment of this condition. It was a fabulous although back to basics weekend. There is no electricty or running water on the island so it was early nights, early mornings, helping with the chores and baths in the river. It was wonderful to be away from it all for a couple of days although my immune system was unprepared for the onslaught of insects and I will be itching for the next week.
I am back in Iquitos this week and happy to say that the manatee Samiro is recovering well. I only have one day left of my Amazon Adventure and will be sad to leave the forest yet again. It is so rewarding to work with such a variety of animals and a pleasure to work with such professional and devoted people.

April 18, 2010

Dr. Cook reports success! Slideshow pics of Peru stray campaign!

Iquitos is a fascinating place and I have always loved it. The heat, the smells and the sounds are overwhelming but it is a colourful, lively and beautiful city. There are imposing buildings from a bygone era in various stages of decay. The river stretches away from the city shimmering in the sun, reflecting the cloud scattered sky. The people (apart from the odd red-faced tourist) are darkhaired, olive skinned and smiling. The expressions on the faces of newly arrived tourists and their shock at the poverty, housing conditions, level of education and treatment of animals is a reminder of my first impressions. I am still shocked by the heat, saddened by the poverty, and terrified of the traffic but I think my impressions of the city have softened. I find myself being defensive knowing how much things have changed in the three years I have been travelling here. Seeing the reduction in the number of street dogs, the general improvement in their welfare, the changing attitudes of the local people to animals and the knowledge that Amazon Cares has played a crucial role in this inspires me.

It has been an exciting couple of weeks for Amazon Cares. The campaign to neuter street dogs around Iquitos has continued and we neutered 95 animals in total. We worked in four locations around the city and in each attracted a large and interested crowd of spectators. We were filmed and photographed by local television, local newspapers and even the general public. It was an invaluable opportunity to educate the local people and I think we will see the benefits in future campaigns. The municipality worked tirelessly alongside us helping set up and catching dogs with Harry everyday and we are very grateful for their assistance.

Bruno, Anne and Florence had a very successful trip to Caballo Cocha and with an early morning wake up call from the town cryer at 6am announcing the days events they were able to vaccinate 100 animals against rabies, give parasite treatment to many more and neuter 13 animals.

Back in Iquitos, Ines and I had the unique opportunity to treat an orphaned manatee at the request of Daryl Richardson founder of the Dallas World Aquarium and of the Manatee Rescue Centre. Samiro is a 4 month old male manatee that was rescued in January weighing 14 kilograms and living in a small dug out canoe. He has a large harpoon gash to his back and damage to his flippers from struggling in the canoe. He is now, thanks to the diligence of the staff at the rescue centre, a healthier 20 kilograms and continues to gain weight as his wounds heal. He developed an ear infection two weeks ago and was not responding to antibiotics. With advice from Dr. David Murphy at Lowry Park Zoo we have been treating the ear topically for almost 10 days and there has been a significant reduction in the infection. It has been a rewarding and heartwarming experience to work with such a gentle and affectionate creature.

Easter was a lovely break for all in the middle of the campaign. We relaxed and had the opportunity to do some sightseeing. The city closed down and we saw a number of colourful parades in honour of the holiday. I had a little reminder of my childhood with an Easter egg hunt for the caretaker’s children at the Amazon Cares Jungle Shelter.

Once again it has been a very successful campaign both professionally and personally. It is a pleasure to work with enthusiastic and inspiring people and I am proud to work with an organisation that continues to do such worthwhile work.

Written by Dr. Annie Cook on April 14, 2010

Sé el cambio" desafío - Be the Change for the Spanish community

El viernes, 16 de abril me hice cargo de un desafío. En primer lugar, admitir mi principal objetivo ha sido siempre el de crear conciencia y fondos para Amazon CARES. Esto es a menudo difícil porque la gente le gusta o donar a nivel local, y es difícil para ellos imaginar que centrar los esfuerzos filantrópicos en un área tan remota como la Amazonía peruana. El apoyo financiero proviene principalmente de los Estados Unidos, Canadá, Europa y Australia. Tenemos la suerte de tener algún maravilloso, increíble partidarios de la herencia Hispaniola.

Lanzo un reto para todos, pero especialmente los de herencia latinoamericana, para ayudar a los de habla española Twitter y Blogger apoyo comunitario a este desafío especial. Por favor, Tweet y Blog en español o en sus blogs el idioma Inglés dirigido a la comunidad hispana.¿Cuántas personas pueden llegar a apoyar Amazon CARES, una organización benéfica con sede en los EE.UU. y Perú, y "Las mascotas sin padres", una organización benéfica con sede en los EE.UU.?

Me gustaría pedir donaciones para el programa CARES, pero hoy me estoy tomando un enfoque global y quiero expresar mi generosidad hacia los "Pets Without Parents" (Animales Sin Padres) de Columbus, Ohio. No importa dónde estamos o hacia dónde vivimos, si usted se preocupa por el futuro de los animales, debe unirse a esta "Sé el cambio" desafío. Así que les pido a donar a una organización benéfica de EE.UU. en vez de CARES Amazonas.

Por favor, haga un comentario si usted hace una donación, para que pueda ser reconocido. Por favor, envíenme enlaces a un blog en el que escribir sobre este tema, o escribir a decirme que se Twitter!
TWITTER:  Siga @AmazonCARES en Inglés y @CARESinSpanish en español.

BLOG:  Siga el blog en Inglés y/o el blog en español.

April 17, 2010

Reaching out to the Hispanic Community: How I can "Be the Change"

For the past several days I have been blogging about the first ever pet blogging conference, Blog Paws 2010, held in Columbus, Ohio.

I have finally had my inspiration as to how I can uniquely contribute to the Be the Change Challenge!  On April 16th attendees of Blog Paws and many more blogged about ways they would support http://www.petswithoutparents.net.  My initial idea, to donate my Birthday Wish to this worthy cause was not possible because Pets Without Parents doesn't have a "Cause Page" on Facebook.  However, they ARE on Facebook, and follow them here.  So here is my idea, a unique form of reaching new donors.  I am going to reach out to my Spanish speaking community, many of whom reside in the US.  I will do this through @CARESinSpanish on Twitter, our Spanish newsgroup on Yahoo which is very active, and by promoting the challenge on our less active Spanish blog.  I will have to translate some documents to get this underway, but Be The Change should continue...  So let's see what happens when I reach out to a new community of possible Donors.  I believe I am the only Blog Paws attendee in this unique position.  So here goes....!

April 12, 2010

What bloggers say about BlogPaws Part II

I have a horrible confession to make.  When I met @DogFiles at BlogPaws 2010 my eyes glazed over when he spoke about video.  As a charity in Peru, we have a very hard time creating good video due to 1) lack of good equipment that can withstand conditions 2) large amount of time spent traveling by boat and accompanying wind noise eating up any form of narrative, and 3) lack of technical knowledge to put videos together.  Yes, we do have a YouTube channel and I would love nothing more than for somebody to tell me I'm wrong and that I am an Oscar winner in the making.  But my videos can not compare to the quality of videos at The Dog Files website

Now, I must self-promote here.  Amazon CARES is very fortunate to be involved with an incredible documentary in the making that needs your support (plus your name in the credits).  It is Fixing Fido, and thanks to Director Jeremiah Alley, we do have some GREAT professional vids.

Now, back to promoting OTHERS! 

Just watched Interview with Petco's Natalie Malaszenko at Blogpaws. Excellent!

Blog:  Implementing an idea / Closing Ceremony Video
I love the superb "Two Cavalier's" blog by @Felissahadas.  She writes an entry about a great idea she had AND implemented while at BlogPaws.  She promotes an easy way for you to help Pedigree help animals.  As much as I want to promote it as well, I prefer you visit her blog to read about her clever idea!  She also writes about the inspirational tear-jerker video shown at the closing ceremony of BlogPaws.  Her reflections express my feelings exactly, and I am sure many of you will agree.

Blog:  Session Review "Be the Change"
Check out this blog by @BoulderDog1.  One of the first I've seen to review a session!  "Be the Change" She writes "That’s what the “Be the Change” panel was all about. It was moderated by Jane Harrell, Petfinder.com and members of the panel included: Dorain Wagner, Your Daily Cute, Jessica Vogelsang, DVM, Pawcurious, and Lynn Haigh (aka @frugaldoudal) and CDO of PawPawty.com. At the end of the panel Lynn showed her Shorty nominated video, “Be the Change.”

*Editor's Note:  This is our favorite expression, especially due to the emphasis on the "world."  We actually have printed magnets with an Amazon scene and the quote!  If you want one free simply comment below.  Also, just ask and we'll send you a free Member decal if you *promise* to display it proudly on your car or vet practice window! 

I am going to publish this now, but I'll still be writing!  Keep those links coming!!

April 3, 2010

Dr. Annie Cook in Peru for new Spey / Neuter Campaigns: A Brilliant Blog!

Click here to lend your support to: Vet Trips are Worth the Cost and make a donation at www.pledgie.com ! To THE CURRENT CAMPAIGN.

Annie Cook working (pictured in background of the picture to the left).

It is fabulous to be back in Iquitos. The heat is overwhelming as always and my head is pounding. It is definitely the only place in the world where I drink in excess of my 2 litres a day. The city is so busy and noisy. Mototaxis whizz past in the street, a dog dodges the traffic and meanders up the foot path, workmen stand on the corner and haggle over goods, a woman walks past with a tray of exotic fruits for sale and an old man sit in his doorframe watching the world pass by. Away from the buzzing mototaxis the city is calmer, people are relaxed and friendly greeting me with a smile and often an embrace. It is such a change from my life in the UK. There is the obvious temperature difference – I was still wearing a winter coat when I left on Friday. Then there is the commute. I am not dodging cars, applying my makeup between changing gears, scoffing a piece of toast if I had time to make it and yelling at the jam of traffic in front of me. Here the day starts with the sun filtering through the screens, the sounds of insects and birds in the trees and the occasional dog bark. Breakfast is at the table with fresh fruit, juice, eggs and toast. The journey to work is a thirty minute speed boat ride along the river with the chance of a pink river dolphin to delay the trip rather than a broken down car that jams the motorway. The river is busy, there are fisherman throwing their nets, long boats so laden with bananas that water splashes the gunnels, rafts of timber heading to market, a woman washing her clothes whilst her children bath in the water.

Arriving at work there is the anticipation of what the day will bring. In the UK I might expect to treat forty patients a day with the only spectator being the owner of the animal. I will stand behind the table in my air-conditioned room with an array of medicines and equipment to assist me and my patients will arrive in baskets or on leads. The majority will be in good physical condition if not a little overweight. In Iquitos my patients come in nets or with rope around some body part to prevent them fleeing. My consulting room is in the street under a tarpaulin and I might have thirty people watching. The animals are thin and carrying an array of parasites, some dogs so affected that there is not a hair left on their skin. Working with Amazon Cares is an opportunity to provide frontline care to those that need it most.

We have set up a mobile neutering clinic for stray animals in a Plaza at the edge of the city centre. The Amazon Cares team consists of Bruno, Esther (pictured below), Bethjane, Harry and me and we are joined by volunteer vets Anne and Florence from France and Peruvian vet, Ines.

We have neutered 28 animals so far in the campaign and treated them for skin problems, chest infections and parasites. The response from the community has been inspiring. The local government has been very supportive and assisted with setting up each day and many people come to watch and inquire about our work. We are quite a spectacle – a row of red tents beneath which 5 veterinarians perform surgery on dogs. To the uninformed it must be bewildering and one small child asked her father the other day “why are they killing them?” It is for this reason that the mobile clinic is an invaluable opportunity to educate local people and raise awareness about animal welfare. Many observers have congratulated us for our efforts and others have requested to have their animals neutered at the Amazon Cares veterinary clinic in the future as this campaign is only for stray animals. The neutering campaign has so far been very successful and will continue around the city until April 10th. There is also an outreach clinic next week in Caballo Cocha coordinated by Bruno together with our two volunteer veterinarians Anne and Florence.   Read more about our trip to the very remote Caballo Cocha in November 2009...

Veterinary and non-veterinary volunteers are always welcome in Iquitos.  We are launching a new program that welcomes volunteers for longer term visits than our planned 2-3 week trips.  Learn more and download an application on our website at http://www.amazoncares.org/.