June 19, 2012

Domestic Animals in Foreign Countries by Dr. Lorie Huston

Taking Care of Domestic Animals in Foreign Countries

By Lorie Huston, DVM
Originally posted on the Pet Health Care Gazette

Here in the United States there is, unfortunately, a certain amount of animal abuse. There is, without a doubt, room for improvement in the way we treat our livestock. Feral cats are often blamed (undeservedly for the most part) for spreading diseases, everything from toxoplasmosis to plaque to rabies, resulting in the targeting and eradication of entire colonies. Pit bull breeds are frequently villainized and sometimes victimized as well. However, for the most part, we see our domestic animals as pets and treat them as such. In other countries, however, this is not always the case.
This week at Animal Cafe, Mary Haight had a chance to talk to Molly Mednikow, Founder and Executive Director of Amazon CARES. Amazon CARES is the only organization working to protect and aid domestic animals in Peru.

In addition to operating a no kill shelter and a modern veterinary clinic which performs free spays and neuters to help decrease the pet population in the area, Amazon CARES also reaches out to the community teaching children and adults alike not only how to care for animals but why having respect for these animals is important.
During the interview, Molly relates that dogs are treated much like vermin in the streets of Iquitos, Peru. She mentions that restaurant keepers frequently keep boiling water at hand to throw at the animals when they come near and tells of one animal that was actually set on fire.
Of particular interest to me is Molly’s description of the veterinary portion of her program. Last year, two of my veterinary colleagues (Dr. Jessica Vogelsang and Dr. Patrick Mahaney) participated in an Amazon CARES veterinary program. I read their posts and looked at their photos with a degree of amazement and, yes I admit it, a little bit of envy. Molly says in her interview that taking part in an Amazon CARES trip is something that all veterinarians should put on their bucket list. I can’t argue with that.
And Amazon CARES doesn’t stop at taking care of domestic animals either. They also play a role in caring for the human population in Peru. For instance, they have been responsible for distributing effective anti-parasiticide treatments to many of the Peruvian people.
Unfortunately, Molly has also saw her shelter facility flooded and completely under water. She talks of that experience in the interview also, describing what it meant to her and to the animals housed in the facility as well as the plans for rebuilding.
One thing I would caution you about before you watch the video on Animal Cafe; some of the photos in the video are graphic and disturbing. Many of them are before and after photos so you do get to see the happy endings for these animals. Still, if you have difficulty looking at these types of photos, you may simply want to listen to the interview without watching the accompanying video.

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