Published: August 21st 2008August 20th 2008
A tough day at the office
Up at 7:30am and off to the second day of surgery and treatments, we stopped off at the Caye Caulker Bakery. It was recommended by locals as well as many tourists. We picked out cinnamon rolls and when it was time to pay, the woman behind the counter smiled and said “Please take anything you want for free. Thank you for coming to help our animals!” Her young son said he would bring his cat “LuvLuv” in to see us later in the day. (By the way, you’ve GOT to try this bakery if you go to Caye Caulker!)
During this project, we had two locations. One was at the PAW Sanctuary and the other was at the Belize Diving Services. These were located on the same side of the island and about 1 block apart. I was working primarily at the PAW site.
The day at PAW surgery site started out hot and humid as Nancy Sherertz sat at a make-shift table on the beach under some palm trees ready to check-in patients for surgery. Nancy, on the World Vets trip with her two daughters, Alexandra and Sarah, was a wonderful asset to the project. Islanders with pets
in tow were greeted by her warm, genuine smile. She patiently listened to the owners and explained the benefits of spaying, neutering and general health care for their pets which was a new concept for many. Nancy won their confidence as they handed over the beloved pets to her. She even ran from one end of the island to the other trying to catch a patient that escaped from the pre-surgery holding area. And she did not come back empty handed!
Sarah Sherertz and her sister Alexandra shared dual roles in the pre/post operative surgical area administering meds and restraining animals while IV catheters were placed. They also monitored animals who were recovering from surgery. During this time they administered vaccinations, applied tick and flea meds and gave dewormer.
Dr Leslie Jones saw appointments under an awning put up behind the building while Dr Andrea Berger and Dr Cathy King performed spays and neuters inside. Dr Jones jumped in to help with surgeries in-between appointments. Shawn Flottmeyer and Amanda Dunbar were the surgery assistants for the day. Amanda, a clothing buyer from New York City, caught on amazingly quick as she bustled from one surgery table to another
comforting animals as they were “going under” anesthesia, shaving and prepping for surgery, drawing up and administering meds, getting more suture and gauze for doctors and cleaning all day long. What a change of pace from life in the fashion world!
Under a big “Belikin” tent set up on the beach, Daniel Gildea taught the educational program to the local children. The first group was attended by the smaller children. The principle of the Caye Caulker School spent the morning going around the island encouraging her students to come to the World Vets “Living Together with Animals” class. The tent quickly filled and every seat was taken. “Mr Dan” captivated the children and parents alike with his animated talk about how animals can be our friends and deserve to be treated with respect. It came to a perfect ending when Beanie Babies were handed out to each child along with a bag of chips and a nice cold drink. Daniel, a 5th grade teacher from California, signed up to prepare and deliver the educational portion of the project. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that he also had many years of experience as a veterinary assistant. He was
the World Vets “dog whisperer”. Even the most aggressive dogs were subdued by his gentle reassurance (and firm grip!). We all felt safe with Dan around.
Meanwhile, over at the dive shop…
Things were hopping like at PAW. We had Dr Winnie Krogman in charge with two vet students from the United Kingdom, Alex Torrance and Ilona Bayliss, there to learn and absorb all they could. Dr Krogman wasted no time in getting the two gloved up and participating in the neuter surgeries. They were assisted by Carla Schoenfeld, a pre-vet student from Texas A&M. I did not spend much time at the dive shop, but was amazed when I walked in to see Carla confidently placing IV catheters on her first day. Dr Krogman did an amazing job of running the show all while seeing appointments, teaching and doing surgeries. They were even so busy they needed an additional assistant. Mary Durm, offered to help out the dive shop team. She and Carla(of course with help from both vet students) learned to administer pre-meds, start IV catheters, prep for surgery, assist during surgery, monitor patients during surgery and recovery, and all this while cleaning the whole time.
In addition to all this, they gave vaccinations, dewormer, pain meds and assisted with appointments!
This team lead by Dr Winnie was truly amazing. They were like a fine tuned machine. Kudos to the dive shop team!
We left hot and tired at 5:45. On the walk back to the condo, we were stopped by many locals who thanked us for coming. We had time to take a shower and answer a few emails then off to meet the team at 8pm for dinner. The people on the island were very generous and provided all our evening meals with the exception of one. Dinner was on the rooftop of the Ocean View restaurant. The ocean breeze was lovely. We enjoyed the time to get to know our teammates and talk about the days accomplishments.
By the end of this day, we had performed a total of 87 surgeries.
There are more photos below