May 17, 2010

Vet Trip: Parasites, One-Eyed Cat, Poor Monkey & Salsa

Report WVS trip Amazon Cares Peru from 16/10 – 6/11/2009
by Carolien Grim
Date of trip: October/November 2009

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In October I arrived in Iquitos, the biggest city that is not accessible by road. And what a hustle and bustle it was, motor taxies everywhere. Don’t think they ever heard of any traffic rules, but it made me laugh. In the next few days most vets and nurses arrived and on the Monday we were all ready to start some work. Of course we had to get used to some of the working methods but we soon did.

We operated in different places; the clinic from Amazon cares, above the meat market in Iquitos, in a classroom and in someone’s back yard on plastic garden tables. After a few days we got the hang of it. We arrived, looked around, adapted to the place and would start unpacking the stuff, ready to start operating. The team was great, hardly any complaining and we just got on with it.

Harry, a Peruvian vet nurse, was brilliant. Installing the oxygen bottle, Harry where can we get water, Harry that dog is a bit vicious can you hold it, Harry just saw a really bad dog on the street can you help and get it? Harry was everywhere and nowhere at the same time. I don’t know what we would have done without him. One Saturday night when we went to the local disco in Coballo Cocha, Harry transformed from this timid, hard working boy into a sexy dancing gigolo☺ He tried to teach us the salsa which of course created a lot of hilarity amongst us but also the locals. Thanks Harry…

One day we were at one of the harbors in Iquitos and I saw a dog that looked really bad, hardly any fur, skin and bone and a huge wound on his front leg. When I saw him we did not have anything to catch him with so I promised him and myself to return the next day to pick him up.

Harry, Miquel and me went the next day to try and find this dog; the whole market was pointing dogs out to us. A good sign in a way the local people knew exactly who we were and what we were trying to do. But we were on a mission… After an hour we decided to give up (for today) and get some other dogs that we had crossed that also needed our help. I think I drove everybody a bit crazy because I kept talking about this dog trying to organize to go back to the market and find it. Finally a few days later I was able to go again.

Again no luck… but instead I found a cat and his eye looked a mess, so Luke came out and it appeared the eye was missing and he had a few big holes in his face. So we immediately went back to the clinic to help this poor cat. Luke promised me to keep looking for this dog as we were leaving the next day to Caballo Cocha. When we returned after 8 days, Luke and Annie told me they found the dog and were sad to tell me they had decided to put him to sleep. I felt relief, either way his suffering was over…

Another case that really touched me was a little monkey. We were in Caballo Cocha, a jungle village 30 km from the Colombian border, 8 hours away on a speedboat from Iquitos. The Amazon rainforest is their back garden. So at the “parasitos” table it was not only dogs and cats but also a lot of birds and some monkeys.

One day these 2 little kids came with a wooly monkey baby which was in an appalling state. The poor thing was dehydrated, anemic, very thin and covered in diarrhea. As I work with rescued wild life at home I recognized the sound of a monkey and went outside. I assisted Miquel in treating the monkey and took it inside to give it a wash. With Esther as a translator I found out they had been feeding the baby rice, rice and rice. So we tried to explain that rice does not grow in the jungle and that the baby needed fruit and leaves. With pain in my heart we had to return the monkey to these kids knowing it was not going to make it without the proper care. But they were going to come again in the evening for more fluids. They never came… I could not get the monkey out of my head and started asking Bruno, the coordinator of Amazon cares, Miquel, the Peruvian wildlife vet and anybody that would listen to me if there was not something we could do for this baby.

I was hoping it would be possible to confiscate the baby and take it with us to Iquitos, as there were a few rescue centers around there. But that was not as easy as I hoped. To cut a long story short, nothing happened while we were there. But back in Iquitos I kept asking if they could not try and get the monkey confiscated. Finally one day before I left I heard the authorities were willing to confiscate the monkey. That made my day, now I just hope the poor thing was still alive by the time they got there.

These 2 stories might not sound like I had a good time, on the contrary I did.

We neutered almost 200 cats and dogs. A lot of people brought their pets to us which was a big change in mentality from 2 years before Annie told us. We had a brilliant, dedicated and hardworking team.

Lots of fun on the river especially when Vladimir let us steer the boat, and when there was a rat stuck in the motor one morning we spontaneously started singing “there is a rat in me motor what am I gonna do” a parody on the song of UB 40, still makes me laugh thinking about it☺ Dancing in the tropical rain, laughing till I cried, processions in the streets for Maria and god knows what else, dancing in the local disco, stunning sunsets over the Amazon river, dog testicles that mysteriously disappeared from the sterile drape. Our mascotte Fluffy, a dog that adopted us as soon as we arrived in Caballo Cocha, the parade of the children in Caballo Cocha to thank us, the film crew and Luke, the river dolphins, the butterfly farm and the monkey island. A trip that I won’t forget shortly…

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