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.
Just about every aspect of CARES and its work shows his fine, Gallic fingerprints upon it. He is Molly's right hand, and if there is anything about Iquitos or CARES that he does not know, it is not worth knowing. While very busy, he is quick to answer a question or offer a hand.

Esther is the senior vet of the organization. Successfully wooed by Molly to join the practice, she moved her entire family from a suburb of Lima to join the CARES team. She is a dedicated professional, and her affect is one of no-nonsense expertise with the pet owners. Back at the clinic, however, she is quick to smile and joke, her frank, intelligent face alight with friendliness.

Luis is the newest member of the CARES team, having only been in Iquitos for six weeks. With his soulful brown eyes and hipster goatee, Luis seems Hollywood-cast for the role of sensitive, idealistic young veterinario. Luis only was able to leave the practice clinic one time during my stay there to do spays at the Punchana mobile clinic, instead spending his days at the Pevas Ave. office, treating animals and performing surgeries for paying clients. Ambitious and keenly bright, Luis goes to school at night to learn English and Portugeuse, and has dreams of traveling the world like the CARES volunteer veterinarians or perhaps working in a wildlife preserve.

Behtjane (pronounced "Bet-hany" for us Spanish-impaired) is a veterinary nurse. Blessed with a "make-do" attitude necessary for the mobile clinics, she helped us all to use the materials on hand, even if they weren't the best for the job - "making do" with less, something else, or nothing at all. For example, we ran out of the small butterfly catheters for administering drugs. The vets quailed at using the larger catheters we had available, especially considering the scrawny, small animals upon which they would be used. However, Behtjane, with characteristic aplomb, skillfully used the catheters, with a minimum of bleeding and always on the first try, with no twisting or digging about. Minnesota vet Judith summed it up best: "She is amazing." No argument there.

Harris is CARES' resident dog whisperer. Despite only being 19 years old, his skill at catching and restraining dogs is by far the best of the group, so much that all the others defer to his skill when encountering a less-than-friendly animal. His skill at netting half-wild, snarling and biting street dogs is amazing; his gentleness, even more so.

It was wonderful meeting and working with all of these people; their skill and dedication are truly inspirational!

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