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/.