August 29, 2012

Street Dogs, Marco's Story

By Guest Blogger Mary Haight originally published on August 16, 2012 at dancingdogblog

The other day, a man named Marco brought a little six week old furry pup to be seen by Amazon CARES volunteer vets at the health fair – he knew the dog was very sick. He looked at me with hope – maybe he was wrong, maybe the dog would be fine. Of course I said nothing, but asked where he learned to speak English and it turned out he had lived in New York for eight years.

We talked about everything but dogs until one of the vets was free to assess health. Marco asked if I knew about Copa Airlines new direct flight from Miami to Iquitos for $500 and I expressed my surprise. Then Dr. Megan was free to take a look – Parvo virus, no hope.

The pup was a stray – what Marco did seemed very different to what I’d seen on the streets and at the health fair. No one brings street dogs to these events, Amazon CARES staff and volunteers take nets and catch them (if you think that big fish you caught put up a fight, try this!)

Street dogs are feared and chased away from family pets with kicks and shouts. The dogs are pretty savvy and have learned to avoid contact. It costs money to keep dogs healthy and people want to keep them safe from health problems.

Cultural differences? Perhaps in the methods. We all protect what we love – I don’t doubt this happens in the US. It’s tough to change cultural habits, as we are very well aware of in the US with spay/neuter, adoption – look how long it took “pets are part of the family” to become a significant part of the culture. This story underscores the importance of education programs for upcoming generations that create a safe place for animals.

I was glad to meet Marco and the puppy he had tried to save – it showed me another side of what might be happening here. People learn from each other and an act of kindness does not go unnoticed. Even if his neighbors all think he is crazy at first, attitudes can and do change.

August 24, 2012

Volunteer Vets, Amazon CARES & Dancing Dog Blog in Peru

by Guest Blogger MARY HAIGHT, originally published on on AUGUST 15, 2012

Imagine rolling around in a covered cart affixed to a motorcycle carrying you, swaying back and forth with the potholes and rain-soaked sandy ground, deeply gouged by the 50 other moto-taxis who had previously negotiated the road, creating constant opportunities for tipping over(and a rather nervous back-seat driver). It’s a talent to stay upright and sometimes it’s a close call – drivers seem to operate well in this chaotic environment of no lanes and following bumper to bumper to jockey for position.

© DancingDogBlog
 At the next turn, the waste from a logging operation covers the streets in timber slivers, slabs and chunks. The shanties built here are what shanties the world over look like, dogs, puppies and children running in the street or lounging at the entrance of a house slapped together with boards. I wondered how surgeries would be done here. [Note the street described could not be photographed for fear of having the camera fly out of my hands.]

We arrived at what was an outdoor government sponsored health fair complete with chiropractor. Since this practitioner was just next to the Amazon CARES area, some vets thought it would be great if they could do so many surgeries followed by some back work (they did not do it in the end). Many people responded and the large open lot was teaming with those ready to help their dogs or themselves.
© DancingDogBlog

There were four operating tables I was told were provided by local folks – well, wooden dining tables actually – that were sterilized and covered with plastic. I felt for the vets who had to bend over that table case after case, or try to do surgery sitting once their backs demanded it. The working conditions make everyone think how lucky we are to have so many conveniences at home. Like running water and refrigeration…oh, and bathrooms.

 Molly Mednikow, Founder and Director of Amazon Cares, gave the children an extemporaneous talk about what is necessary to care for your dog. (A short clip will hopefully be at the end of this post but upload times may make it impossible.) There was someone who represented the Patch Adams group keeping kids amused while their parents attended to business.

© DancingDogBlog

Once again, all cats and dogs that showed up were serviced after 6 hours. There was an emergency case of bleeding, so the vets went back in found a problem and fixed it. That dog came back to clinic for an overnight watch (the dog was fine the next morning).

After work, we were back in the business district having dinner at a place claiming to have “better than Starbuck’s” coffee and frappacinos – that made me laugh – it was so far from what this place is all about. There are some expats living here. Joe from Texas runs a place that is open 24 hours and has what must be a ten page menu. His is one of the few establishments with actual air-conditioning (this is no small thing here)!

It was the end to a productive day, and tomorrow another day in a neighborhood without service. The volunteer vets are working very well together as a team and it’s gratifying to watch. Hope you’ll come along with me for a photo tour of where I am, up next =)

The view from the cafe…

© DancingDogBlog

To further spread awareness about Amazon CARES tremendous work, consider sharing blog posts on Twitter and Facebook by joining their Atomic Tribe at: Follow Amazon CARES on Twitter and Like their Facebook Page!

August 23, 2012

Spay Neuter in the Amazon, Big “Fix” Begins

by Guest Blogger MARY HAIGHT, originally published on on AUGUST 14, 2012

A rooster calls the start of the day at what I think must be 4am, then he makes a sound that is a lot like laughter…joke’s on you, it’s not daybreak yet! The volunteer lodge has signs of quiet shifting happening – soon enough we’ll be setting up for area surgeries.

Dr. Sean Pampreen operates with curious onlookers.   © DancingDogBlog
Breakfast omelets, fresh juice and the ever present carbs got everyone ready for what would be a long day. Big plastic oval picnic type tables, the kind you would buy at your local home store for the back yard, were set up for spay neuter surgeries, washed and covered with plastic sheets firmly taped to the sides. Medicines, needles, betadine, sterilized surgical items carefully wrapped and all other necessary items for spay/neuter, fleas, and whatnot were brought in by the mobile clinic and set up on the vet’s table. Soap, alcohol, a dilution of Clorox were at the ready to meet pre and post op needs.  

Dr. Megan Prendergrast at work in Cabo Lopez.  © DancingDogBlog
It started off with two dogs, then one, then suddenly there were ten and more coming…the vets were off and running, standing for hours and hours, in heat that creates a constant slick on your forehead, and you should see what pours out of the surgical gloves as they slide off their hands. Yet did I hear complaints? Not one…well, barring the joke made by one who wanted to know where the music was for his “operating room”.

Neighbors have told neighbors and word has gotten out to bring your dogs for sterilization, a general exam, flea preventive, and solutions for sick dogs. Medications are limited and vet volunteers have brought some meds with them. I was thinking it would be great if one of the large drug companies could back the work of this organization by providing much needed medical supplies.The work that is done by the volunteer vets during the four sessions a year Amazon CARES has for this massive spay neuter effort is fantastic. 

Dr. Sealy Racelle LaMar of Northtown Veterinary Hospital explains a procedure.   © DancingDogBlog
None of this hard work stops with sterilization. Long after the vet volunteers are gone, Amazon CARES continues their work with a very fine local staff of vets and nurses at their spay/neuter clinic in Iquitos, educates local populations via a new television show and their well-established outreach programs in the schools. Amazon CARES regularly rescues street dogs for not only sterilization, but to treat disease. The end of July and beginning of August saw a massive response to special low-cost treatments at the clinic. The volunteer veterinary trips help the group branch out to surrounding areas, servicing remote villages with no regular doctors, let alone veterinary services.

Every day here is like a free sauna, and will be more pronounced (do not ask me how that is possible lol) when we get to the deep jungle near the Brazilian boarder. That’s where the only shower you’re going to get is when it rains or when you decide it’s safe to swim in the Amazon. If you are recalling that House episode about the tiny fish that got up the wrong place, believe me, I’m thinking about it:) 

 Tomorrow we go to a poverty ridden neighborhood outside Iquitos. More to come later!

To further spread awareness about Amazon CARES tremendous work, consider sharing blog posts on Twitter and Facebook by joining Atomic Tribe at:

August 15, 2012

Have You Fallen in Crazy Love with a Homeless Dog?

"It happens all the time
This crazy love of mine
Wraps around my heart
Refusin' to unwind"

lyrics from "Crazy Love" by Rusty Young

Help Darba travel from Peru to Australia!
That is exactly what has happened to Leticia, a charismatic young woman from Australia.  She came to Peru five months ago and adopted a homeless street dog.  The dog, a male named Darba, is in extremely good health and very well trained (albeit in Spanish), as well as house-broken.

Now it is time for Leticia to return home, and Australia is a country with very tough restrictions regarding the entrance of animals into their sovereign nation.

Amazon CARES wants to help Leticia in any way possible.  As the proud owner of an imported Peruvian dog in the US (@MarilynMonrowf), I understand how hard it is to say goodbye once a street dog becomes a pet and "wraps around your heart."

I can bring Darba to the US in early October, airline permitting.  The ideal situation would be for Darba to somehow end up in the Los Angeles area, as this would be the point of departure for Australia.  Leticia is willing to pay for any costs involved in the care and transport of Darba.  Darba needs to stay in the US for 5 months and receive many vaccines and tests before the Australian government will allow him to be reunited with his forever family.

Can you help?  I can get him to Atlanta, Georgia.  He could stay in Atlanta for a while or be transported directly to California.  Please comment below if you have any ideas to help Leticia and Darba.  We are in a rush, as I, along with other volunteers, leave for the more remote jungle on Friday!

You can keep up with our exciting volunteer trip at

If you want to receive a daily text update during the vet campaign which ends Aug. 26, US and Canada residents can text the word “YES” to US number 919-208-8561.
To further spread awareness about Amazon CARES tremendous work, consider sharing blog posts on Twitter and Facebook by joining Atomic Tribe at:

August 14, 2012

Guest Blogger Mary Haight's Mad Dash in the Amazon!

Suddenly it was Friday and my flight to the jungles of Peru was looming – it was a mad dash to get my dog Tashi over to his Aunt Elizabeth’s place then it was off to O’Hare. After three airports, as many planes and ten-and-a-half hours of flight time, I made it to Iquitos and Amazon CARES, blurry-eyed and headed to what I thought would be a bed somewhere.
Amazon CARESAs I and my fellow volunteers arrived, we all got a surprise – Amazon Cares arranged a tour for us to meet the Yaguas, a jungle tribe and go to a sanctuary known as monkey island. We quickly learned what Iquitos had to offer. And even in my travel worn state, I got it – pictures and all!
It has been a whirlwind of activity since I landed with boat rides up and down the Amazon – not the whole river of course, that would take days – and today was the first day we got a chance to see the dogs. I’ve taken a picture of every one of them and will have a little “guess the breed” competition when I get them uploaded. The dogs I met were all happy to see us, coming up to greet with excited wags and barks.
The real work of volunteering starts tomorrow with surgeries in town. I’ll be back with a more detailed report later on, but for now take a look at a couple of the photos from my first day in Iquitos – there are more stories to tell from blow gun practice to pink dolphins!

Amazon CARES If you want to receive a daily text update during the vet campaign which ends Aug. 26, US and Canada residents can text the word “YES” to US number  919-208-8561.
To further spread awareness about Amazon CARES and our tremendous work, consider sharing our blog posts on Twitter and Facebook by joining our Atomic Tribe at:

August 11, 2012

Let the Chaos Begin! Volunteers Arrive for Jungle Adventure!

Alex, Molly and Erin
Today is so exciting because almost all of our volunteers have arrived.  Who's a vegetarian?  Oh, but she eats fish.  No shellfish for her and no dairy for me.  Whatever the quandary Marlene always produces delicious, healthy meals that everyone enjoys.  What do you mean we are 1 bed short?  And in 2 days we'll be 3 beds short?  Yikes.  Move my bed into the guest house and I'll sleep on a cot.  I hope the roof doesn't leak...

Earlier today I sent Dr. Sean Pampreen (USA), Dr. Megan Prendergast (Australia), Dr. Racelle LaMar (USA), Sophie Sage (France) and Mary Haight (USA) on a one/day tour to visit an animal rescue center with exotic animals and a Yagua Indian tribe village.
Later arrivals included Dutch filmakers Darifa and John.  I panicked.  They weren't on MY list!  They were on Bruno's list!  They're sleeping at the shelter.  OMG there aren't enough beds!  Luckily they are a couple and they agreed to share one big bed.  I've already recruited all the young'uns to sleep on a top bunk.

Dr. Susan Cunningham of Ireland arrived next, and I shuffled her off to Cabo Lopez in a moto-taxi with the filmmakers.  Our last arrivals of the day are Alexandra Schroth and Dr. Erin Zimowske, both of the USA.  They are patiently waiting for me to write this blog so we can all ride off to paradise in the jungle together.

The volunteers on the tour will arrive back at the clinic at 6 PM, at which time Bruno will get them moto-taxis, and then we will all dine together, and it will be very different from last night when there were just three of us!

Erin is hoping to benefit as many people as possible.  She is here to help animals and to improve the community.

Alexandra Schroth is the daughter of  friend, Donna DeClemente.    Alex says that she looks forward to experiencing a new culture and gaining more veterinary experience.  Alex fought hard for one of only two Vet Nurse spots on this trip!  We are friends from BlogPaws and on Twitter!  Follow Donna and if you're not doing so, follow Amazon CARES!

If you want to receive a daily text update during the vet campaign which ends Aug. 26, US and Canada residents can text the word “YES” to US number 919-208-8561.

To further spread awareness about Amazon CARES and our tremendous work, consider sharing our blog posts on Twitter and Facebook by joining our Atomic Tribe at:

August 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday Video: Bringing Dental Care to Pets!

This short video was shot August 3 at the Amazon CARES shelter, where volunteers performed maintenance on a dog´s teeth.  The concept of dental healtlh for animals is a very new one in this poverty-stricken region.  Amazon CARES Rescue Dogs smile brightly! 

Get a daily text from @AmazonCares thru Aug. 26 Vet campaign in Amazon! US & Canada, Text "Yes" to US # 202-258-2780.

August 7, 2012

Still Re-Building from the Flood

I am at a loss for words. I have been working hard since 8 AM, and yet I feel I have accomplished nothing. That is not true, actually. I managed to spend money. In my defense the items were needed.

Amazon CARES began in 2004. Now, in 2012, it seems everything is breaking down. The flood in early 2012 destroyed the shelter and the volunteer bathrooms and showers. Donors helped us rebuild a much smaller shelter. I would love to show you a video clip. But I’ve been trying to upload it for four hours and don´t hold out much hope of getting it done today.

Now that volunteers are about to arrive, in 3 days, our generator at the shelter has died. It has been through many, many repairs over the years, and we have been told that no more repairs would be possible after the last bandage was applied. I purchased blocks of ice so that the food we purchased won’t go bad. We don’t want to buy a new generator (a $2000 expense), as the government continues to promise that we are getting electricity…soon.

A French Veterinary student, Sophie Sage, arrived a few days ago. Today, she and I will stay in an Iquito’s hostel. With no generator, there is no water. We’re trying to get a repairman out there, and our second idea is to find a used generator.

The microwave we’ve used since 2005 died too. I live in fear that our boat motor will be next. I guess it is no different from owning a house. When the warranty runs out, the item breaks down. Oh, did I mention our washing machine also broke down!? And the Chef needs new kitchen knives. I looked at the old ones, and she isn’t lying.

Cat atop boxes of tile.

Both of the volunteer bathroom sinks are broken, the plastic wastebaskets have long since floated away, and we never indulged in mirrors. It turns out, in Iquitos, it is really difficult to buy a sink without an accompanying toilet. Two stores later, mission accomplished. How I lusted after the ceramic tiles in the store. Lust. That is the only word that could describe my feelings for these tiles. Our showers and bathrooms are pure concrete, which is, in itself, a nice thing for the jungle. I am sure our lovely donors are not interested in our having tile floors in the showers! Instead I told all the volunteers to bring flip-flops!

Buying fans for the volunteer lodge.
So today Amazon CARES was forced to part with money to buy a microwave, 2 sinks. 3 wastebaskets, 2 small fans and a bargain set of knives for less than $20.

I can imagine that most small nonprofits struggle with how to spend their money on items that are necessary, but don’t seem to relate directly to programming. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section. At least I saved on mirrors. I purchased two children’s mirrors in plastic for $2 each.  
Any volunteer would agree that a fan is more important that vanity. As I already said, vanity has no place in the jungle!

If you want to receive a daily text update during the vet campaign which ends Aug. 26, US and Canada residents can text the word “YES” to US number 202-258-2780. 

To further spread awareness about Amazon CARES and our tremendous work, consider sharing our blog posts on Twitter and Facebook by joining our Atomic Tribe at:

If you are able to donate, we very much appreciate it!  

August 4, 2012

Vanity and the Jungle Don't Mix

My first day was eventful, as I helped a tourist trap a stray dog with my rusty dog-catching skills.  I named her Cindi, after a Donor who is really upset with me for not writing a prompt Thank You Note.  My fault, entirely.  I am so thrilled to welcome Manuela back from maternity leave!  Congratulations Manuela!  Those Thank You notes won´t fall through the cracks on Manuela´s watch!

I had no trouble sleeping last night. The jungle is cooler at night, plus the generator was on so I had a small fan by my bed. I don't know what time I went to bed. I don't think it was past 10, but it seemed late because it gets dark so early. I couldn't put down  Gone Girl: A Novel.   Finally I felt badly about the kerosene being wasted in the generator so I went to bed. My beloved rescue dog Marone hopped onto the foot of the bed as if no time had passed between us.  If you don´t know about Marone, I consider her a co-founder of Amazon CARES!   I fell asleep before the generator was turned off.

I woke extremely early. Breakfast wasn't until 8:30 and I had several hours to go. I finished the awesome book, and started organizing the few things I packed for myself. I already unpacked all the veterinary donations from Embrace Pet Insurance the day before.  Everyone at the office was so thrilled!  

Now I'm just sitting, sweating, waiting for the Mototaxi to take me to the office.  It is hot! And humid. I wonder what I was thinking when I actually packed cosmetics for this trip? I have sweated off said make-up and I haven't even left my jungle refuge yet. I have a bright red pimple shining like a lighthouse beside my nose. Vanity and the jungle don't mix.

Thank you Dick Van Patten Natural Balance Pet Foods for unwittingly gifting me with my most needed accessory. That bright blue bandana intended for my pet? It's my bandana now... And I doubt even a dog would want it after I use it to wipe my brow all day!

After the early Spring flooding, the river is now low. My beloved boat is on dry land. That means the coming group of volunteers won't relish their peaceful commute to work by water. The roads have improved, however.

I purchased the "As Seen On TV" "Bra-Tastic" set of three bras.  They are seamless, stretchy, but they are no match for a Mototaxi without shock absorbers and the dirt paths leading to our jungle lodging. Ladies, bring a strong sports bra!

I will say that buying two of those battery operated light bulbs was pure genius.  Wish I´d brought more.  If you are coming on the August vet trip and are reading this, please bring a book!  And a strong bra (unless you are male, of course)!

Amazon CARES will send out a daily text update during our Vet trip which ends on August 26.  US and Canadian residents can receive this text by texting "YES" to US number 202-258-2780.

August 3, 2012

Spaying Pregnant Dogs in Third World Countries

Dr. Patrick Mahaney is a huge advocate for Amazon CARES.  Through his tireless work with traditional and new media, more people are learning of the work of Amazon CARES.  This article originally appeared at PETMD.

Spaying Pregnant Dogs in Third World Countries

Having grown up with parents who instilled a strong sense of do-gooding in me, I’ve always felt compelled to help better the lives of both pets and people through my veterinary practice. I’ve primarily worked within the safe, controlled, and clean environment of hospital facilities (and my clients’ homes, which is another story), but my internal travel compass motivated me to pursue a "vets abroad" experience.
My first veterinary philanthropic trip found me traveling to Peru with Amazon CARES (Community Animal Rescue Education Safety). Our M*A*S*H style, mobile veterinary service brought a variety of wellness treatments to communities in and around Iquitos, an urban jungle perched on the bank of the Amazon River, and each day brought its own set of unique challenges.

At each site, we were greeted by an eager group of pet owners with their dogs and cats in need of medical services. Additionally, we treated street animals that were captured, sexually altered, and then released back into their familiar territory.
To read the rest of this article, please visit the site of original publication.

August 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Nuns, Orphans, Rescue Dogs!

Mother Superior Maria Jose and a Sister look on with two orphaned girls that reside at their orphanage.  They adopted a pit bull, Sally, a mixed breed, Madhu, and plan to adopt a third dog named Kurt, when he is in good health and has been neutered.