August 2, 2013

Experience Making A Difference - Amazon CARES Veterinary Volunteer (Part 1/3)

Have you ever wondered what a day volunteering with Amazon CARES is like? Recent veterinary volunteer Sarah Keown shares her experience with us in today's blog.

Day 3

Early start, delicious breakfast as ever by Marlena who is our Peruvian mama at the Cabo Lopez shelter where we're staying (just outside of Iquitos) and off we go in our mototaxi pick-up to meet the others at the clinic in the city, load up and head off to a new village Olanta Humala for my first mobile clinic. 

Sarah at our facility in Cabo Lopez.

A little bit of a bumpy ride with everyone hanging on tight - luckily volunteers had the luxury of being in the cabin with the driver rather than in the truck!  We arrived with our accommodation for the day ready for us - an enclosed wooden room with dirt floor, though tables and chairs as required, and once the equipment was set out it looked just like a rustic clinic that had been there all along. 

The word got around quickly we were there and soon enough a crowd of people were waiting with dogs, puppies and some cats in their hands enthusiastic for parasite treatment and in most cases neutering.  Education is vital to Amazon CARES' work, and flyers were given out as well as members of staff (who speak Spanish - rather than my Spanglish!) informing about the problem of uncontrolled dog/cat populations and how neutering can help.  With volunteers and Harry (the vet tech) in control of when dogs were medicated etc., we had a conveyer belt of dogs going through being neutered very efficiently.

By the 5th bitch spay (including a heavily pregnant bitch and a pyometra) I was tired, hot, and my back was aching, but was happy that everything went as well as possible and grateful to everyone for helping so much.  Owners also seemed grateful and, if necessary, were given careful instructions of when to return to the clinic for check ups, further medications and the importance of this.

Back to Iquitos with some spare time to wander around and enjoy the city in the golden sunlight.  Within half an hour we saw the main square filled with school kids playing, a procession of people supporting the "Garden" Party for mayor elections - including floats of dancing hula girls, extravagant head dresses and firecrackers. We stopped at the delicious ice cream shop, took in the extraordinary view of the very full, yet very still, Amazon, and had an Inca Kola in the old school glass bottles to go back to the clinic with - I can definitely see why people enjoy living here!  On the way back in our usual mototaxi ride we even had a couple of stowaways that hopped on in the village for a ride and then jumped off again with no fear! Seems that growing up as a child here must be pretty fun as they all seem to be playing outside or swimming all the time (with a little bit of school).

Interested in volunteering? Amazon CARES offers virtual and veterinary volunteer positions year-round. Learn more here.


  1. Cant wait to read more. Sounds amazing!

    1. Our volunteer trips are a wonderful experience! Visit our website for more information:

      Shannon Sullivan
      Blog Editor


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