December 30, 2010

10 Years Ago: The Dog That Changed My Life

This is a letter I just received from Adrian Popescu, a resident of Atlanta, Georgia USA.  Adrian traveled with me on a Peru volunteer trip that I organized in July, 2001.  I had been traveling for years doing various volunteer activities.  However THIS trip was different.  In his words:
"Attached is the sequence of three photos that I took of a taxi and you on our last Sunday in the Amazon (July 2001); wandering around Iquitos. I was in a taxi heading out of town, at a red light, looking for a gift for the girls. As you pulled up, in your arms I recognized the dog that I had followed earlier that afternoon, walking around the market and the Inca Museo. Everywhere I walked, he walked in front of me; or maybe, he was my guide. 

December 23, 2010

Explorama offers Volunteers Adventure, Luxury

Amazon CARES is thrilled to announce the April 2011 Volunteer Trip to the Amazon in conjunction with Explorama Lodges.  The trip is already almost full! Two non-veterinary volunteers that are experienced animal handlers have been accepted, as well as two highly qualified veterinarians, including Dr. Patrick Mahaney! We are still seeking 1 more Veterinarian and 2 Vet Nurses / Techs.  If interested please email  This is an excerpt from the itinerary.

Day Seven:  Saturday April 16, 2011
Take an afternoon hike through primary, terra firme, non-flooding rainforest including a visit to the ReNuPeRu Medicinal Plant Garden adjoining the lodge. There will also be an evening excursion by open boat along the Sucusari Stream in search of caiman and to enjoy the night sounds and stars of the Southern sky.  We will overnight at ExplorNapo Lodge.

December 21, 2010

Explore the Heliconia Amazon River Lodge!

Veterinary volunteers and Amazon CARES are highly appreciative of the hard work that goes into the planning of our volunteer trips.  The bureaucratic red tape is deftly handled by the Director in Peru, Bruno Antoine.  Communicating and confirming plans with remote villages is always an extreme difficulty.  Following that, Bruno dedicates himself to finding comfortable lodging and safe, healthy meals for the participants. 

During our most recent campaign, Heliconia Lodge and Amazon River Expeditions provided not one, but two large speedboats to assist our getting the volunteers and the large amount of supplies from the Port of Bellavista Nanay in Iquitos to the towns of Yanamono, then to Indiana, and after several days, they returned us to Iquitos.  These areas are indicated on the map above with red/yellow "X" marks.

December 6, 2010

Jaguar Otto and Puma Kimba need a home!

Recently, it came to our attention that the pastor at a local church, Father Raymundo Portelli of the San Martín de Porres parrish in Iquitos, keeps several wild animals at the church. The animals were given to him in order to find them a decent home, but Father Raymundo has been unable to do so. There isn’t enough money to take care of the animals, and local organizations are unable to take them off his hands.

One of the animals is an adult male jaguar, named Otto.

The animal was given to Father Raymundo when it was just a baby. It had been abandoned, along with a baby brother, put in a bag and tossed away. The other jaguar-kitten was already dead at the time, and Father Raymundo took in the surviving kitten.

But that was 5 years ago, and the now fully grown cat has lived on a chain, in a 100-square foot cage, ever since. The reason the animal is kept on a chain inside his cage, is that Father Raymundo worries that the
cage is not strong enough to hold Otto inside. If the animal should escape, the consequences could be severe.

December 2, 2010

Sterile conditions despite drawbacks

Today as well as on our first day in Iquitos, Barbara and I walked the local streets and poor areas with either Molly or Gustavo (the kennel manager) as translator. We offered free parasite control for the common infestations seen here in dogs: sarcoptic mange, fleas, ticks and roundworms. The mange responds to ivermectin injections, the fleas and tick to fiprinil spray. These dogs need a repeat treatment of ivermectin in a month, but most don't know this and they don't seem to be proactive in getting the treatment. The cats are less visible than the thousands of owned and street dogs, but they do exist and occupy a place in the household.

Judith in surgery
The low cost spay and neuter clinics are offered in various venues around Iquitos and in nearbly villages and up the Amazon river. We have spent three days in the Punchana district. We are met at the Amazon Cares clinic by Bruno, the pr man, Molly, vets Luis and Esther, techs Behtjane and Harry, and the local Punchana officers in their official truck, which is loaded with plastic kitchen tables, sand bags, vet supplies, about a million sterile surgical packs, educational literature, clean drinking water, dog catching nets, and people inside and on the back of the truck. The site is a cement amphitheater in a small square....angled steps lead up to the stage on both sides. A portable awning/tent is set up for the treatments given by the resident vet, Esther or Luis. People are lined up with their pets: in baskets, bags, arms, motos, afoot. Few if any are on leashes. Chaos begins. While the line is organized, up top on the stage we are unpacking everything.