October 31, 2010

Dog Catching at Punchana Meat Market

Backtracking a  bit, I am writing about our last day at the outdoor clinic in Punchana which took place on Thursday, October 21, 2010. As our agenda had changed, few people brought their animals for treatment. However, the proximity of the meat market ensured that the volunteers would not be idle: it was time to let loose CARES' own dog whisperer, Harris, with his wicked long pole net. Read more to see the MUST SEE 1 minute video of Harry trapping a street dog!

October 26, 2010

Veterinarians Loose in the Jungle!

Our group is sitting in a tiki-style hut / restaurant waiting for our boat to Yanamono, our first stop on our 5 day jungle adventure. We've been up since 5 AM preparing our own lunches for today and tomorrow. Then we arrived at the in-town Veterinary Clinic to load up the mountain of supplies we will need for ourselves and the animals we will treat this week. Despite our early arrival, it turns out our boat won't accommodate the gear AND us! So we are waiting for a second boat. The boat just arrived and they are loading in our cargo. 1.5 hours to Yanamono, where we hope to fit in a good day of work despite our late arrival. It is now 9:45 AM.

October 23, 2010

Amazon CARES' Animal Care Workers

Last week when I was in Peru, I was able to observe the Iquitos CARES' animal care workers in action, and have been much impressed with their skills and dedication. While Molly is the visionary, it is they who labor to bring her vision to fruition, and they deserve a little recognition. So without further ado, I bring you the CARES' Iquitos animal care staff:

Bruno is the Director of CARES, and is the general overseer of day-to-day operations. He arranges for trips, makes sure the vets are equipped with what they need, gets things fixed, does the accounting, and, on occasion, plays back-up dog catcher/wrangler.

October 22, 2010

Motos and Other Obstacles

This, my sixth day in Iquitos, saw me spending an inordinate amount of time riding in mototaxis. For the uninitiated, I will explain: imagine a souped-up tricycle with a seat in back and a driver in front whizzing by on busy city streets, weaving in and out of other "motos," motorcycles, buses, pedestrians, dogs and other obstacles.

October 21, 2010

Manatees in Danger

Today I visited ACOBIA-DWAzoo, Amazonian Manatee Rescue Center. Located 4.5 miles from the Iquitos airport, it took a good 25 minutes or so to get there. For S/10 (or about $3.60USD), you are granted admission to the bucolic preserve. A paved path leads you to a brackish pool covered with lush aquatic plants. It doesn't appear there are manatees in this pool, I thought, disappointed, when the water surface erupted with dozens of bubbles. We waited for the manatee to surface, but our patience is apparently not as great as the aquatic mammal's lung capacity.

October 20, 2010

Spay/Neuter Clinic in Punchana

Gabriela, Barbara, Lisa, Judith and Catherine
I have been down in Iquitos for four days now. Today was Day 3 of working in the Punchana District where the vets are doing free spays/neuters as well as administering anti-parasite medication. On Monday, I weighed dogs to ensure the correct dosage of the oral anti-parasite medication. The problem is, we don't have a proper scale. However, the vets had rigged up an ingenious "make-do" invention which utilized a small sling and a luggage scale. Getting the dogs into the sling was often challenging; they didn't appreciate being lifted up in the air, and the temperamental scale often made it necessary for us to weigh them more than once. It was hot, sweaty work, bending and stooping and wrestling with the dogs and lifting them up. A large crowd of people gathered to bring their animals and to watch with great interest the goings-0n. After maybe 5 hours of non-stop sweat, and getting peed on and having some brown goo leak from the back end of a matted-fur mutt, I made the unwelcome discovery of just how bad I could smell. I really had no idea.

October 17, 2010

Walking Dirt Paths for Animals

Our volunteers have arrived. This is an international team, including a former volunter Dr. Barbara Bennett.  She is accompanied by Judith (USA), Katherine (Scotland), Lisa (Wales), and Gabriella (Spain).  The trip has been organized in part by Dr. Bennett and also the Worldwide Veterinary Service.  We´ll begin a very arduous week of work in Iquitos starting Monday, October 18, 2010 and another week of veterinary clinics in jungle villages from October 22-29, 2010.  Yesterday, Saturday, October 16, a few of us decided to get out and start working ahead of schedule.  This is how we found ourselves walking the dusty paths and dirt roads of Los Malvinas, a very poor area of town.

October 12, 2010

Spotlight: Molly Mednikow, Founder of Amazon CARES

Please note:  This is a reprint from:

Blogger Spotlight: Molly Mednikow, Founder and Executive Director of Amazon CARES

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 by Caitlin and Rachel on BlogPaws

Here at PetRelocation.com, we love offering up-to-date information about pet moving and travel, picking the right dog crate, etc..., but we know that the pet community is interested in learning about bigger issues and charities around the world, too. On that note, we thought we'd tell you about Amazon Community Animal Rescue, Education and Safety (CARES), an organization that works to improve life for humans and animals throughout the Peruvian Amazon. Founded in 2004 by Molly Mednikow with the goal of working to protect the stray animals so often found in this part of the world, Amazon CARES stands up for the most powerless among us.

A Tennessee native with a background in business, Molly decided to pack up and move to Peru when previous charity work brought her there a few years ago. After witnessing the tragic amount of animal suffering in cities like Iquitos, Molly decided to sell her share of her family's business and put her money where her heart was. Thus was born Amazon CARES, which would eventually become a busy and broadly-reaching charity with several ongoing projects including a vet clinic, a no-kill shelter, rescue programs and volunteer opportunities.

We’ve asked Molly, who will be attending BlogPaws 2010 West next month, to answer a few questions about her experiences, her motivations and her advice on how to become involved. Thanks, Molly, and keep up the great work!

What improvements has Amazon CARES made possible since it began?

No domestic animal welfare organizations exist in the Peruvian Amazon, with the exception of Amazon CARES. Since 2004 we have managed to stop local governments from mass culling of street dogs via poisoning or shooting. We also forced a traveling circus out of the city by exposing their paying people for live domestic animals to feed their tigers. The number of abandoned and sick dogs on the street is greatly reduced. In the beginning we had to beg people to sterilize their pets. Now, whenever we have a free mobile clinic, we have to deal with crowd control!

You lived in Peru for four years. What was an average day like there?

I still spend months of each year in Peru, and my day is much like another person’s day. Except that I travel to work by boat instead of car! I live on the same property as our no-kill shelter and it is comfortable but rustic. We have a generator but my hours are very much dictated by the sun. I live surrounded by exotic trees, plants, animals, and of course, dogs. The day starts early, before the heat sets in, and the “Guardian” for the property takes me to town via a 30 minute boat ride.

We have a modern office with air conditioning in the center of town. The veterinary clinic is operated by a great team of professionals, all Peruvian. I work at the computer in the office. I usually do not take the two hour lunch break when the office closes from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. However, since I live in the jungle, I have to leave early each day, by 5 p.m. at the latest, to make sure we (the Guardian and me) don’t get lost in the dark on the Amazon River.

The food at the jungle shelter is delicious. I always prefer staying there rather than in town. At night, I usually read and go to bed early.

What are the biggest challenges or surprises you’ve encountered since this charity began?

After the charity had been open for six months, I began to realize that I had failed to deal with cultural attitudes towards animals within the Amazon CARES staff! I just assumed they understood what I understood. After attending a Humane Society International conference I realized that I had to teach them about animal welfare and sensitivity towards the very animals they were being paid to care for. I used to scrub the kennels because I was dissatisfied with how others did the job. However, I had not taught them the WHY behind the WHAT. Once they understood the high risks of NOT cleaning thoroughly, they changed.

I tried to help them see life throught the eyes of an abandoned animal, and made sure they knew that every moment spent outside of a kennel is a blessing for a dog or cat. Of course, I dealt with these same cultural differences within the Peruvian community, and changing those perceptions has taken more time, and will be a continuing effort.

October 7, 2010

The Story of Olvi

In July of 2010, a dog was abandoned in a village 45 miles from Iquitos where she was noticed by a team of American and Peruvian doctors, nurses, and educators. After some detective work, it was discovered that the animal simply been dumped from a boat from people who lived some distance from the village, and who then returned to their homes.
The dog was emaciated – literally skin and bones. It was hard to imagine that such a skeletal specimen had ever been healthy enough to get pregnant, but her prolapsed uterus told the story of childbirth, and puppies gone who-knows-where. She trembled where she lay; her open sores buzzed with flies, and fleas leapt and capered, visible to the naked eye on her sparsely furred skin.
One member of the team fed her, and after several days, her strength slowly began to return. However, her extreme weakness made it apparent that if she was to survive, half measures would not suffice: she needed to be rescued. Unfortunately, the team had to leave the village, with plans to return again in a couple of days. Food was left with the village children who promised to care for the dog. One of the team members had heard of Amazon CARES, and contacted it to obtain a crate for her rescue.
When the team returned to the village, the dog was sitting in the same spot, looking expectantly toward the river. She immediately came to the team members when they approached. She was crated, and she spent the next four hours snoozing on the boat ride out of the jungle and into Iquitos.
She was met with open arms at Amazon CARES where she was christened “Olvi.”
Olvi because she was una olvidada, a forgotten one.
Olvi because she is inolvidable - unforgettable.

The effort was so worth it. I can't believe the change. Aren't food, medical care and love grand?!!!
- Doctor involved in Olvi's initial rescue
A special "thank you" to Anita Soluna for sharing her story and "before" photo with us, as well as for saving Olvi's life!

October 2, 2010

WEHT Pics: Rescues Inez & Jessica?

As I embark on another happy voyage to the beautiful Peruvian Amaon region, I reflect on the trip Amazon CARES completed in June and July of 2010. It seems like yesterday! Along with our French and Peruvian volunteers, we rescued various dogs that we named, and we became attached to them. Anita Soluna, an American woman doing much medical volunteer work in the region rescued two dogs from the jungle, and Nicolla Kopp of Holland rescued a delightful cocker spaniel mix from the Port of Bella Vista Nanay.

Now that I am back, I can finally answer the many questions of "Whatever happened to...?" And in this instance, pictures are worth more than words. I will continue this series with photos of Sheena and Olvi and Romaine and more!

Inez, two months ago.

Inez, almost completely recovered

Jessica, extremely shy at time of her rescue.

Jessica almost recovered.

As always, your donations and support enable us to continue rescuing animals like these, who will surely be adopted due to their happy personalities. Check out our brand spanking new website at http://amazoncares.org/. Become a Supporting Member for $25 and receive a beautiful 2011 wall calendar (a $15 value, plus no shipping costs!) and more goodies!