The pueblo of San Angel is marked by a rusted and dented sign that proclaims the population to be 850. The sign was there when I first came in 2008; the population is probably less now. It is an agricultural community and though the children are taught Spanish, the majority of the residents speak Maya. It is a community that has very little financially and here, more than the other towns we visit, we see the impact of limited food on the dogs. There is no difficulty counting every rib-bone on these animals.
Our clinic building is provided to us by the local ejido and its proximity to the school means that we are visited by children all day. They cluster in the doorway and climb up to the window ledges in order to see what is occurring inside. We limit the children inside to those that that have a dog or cat recovering from surgery but as the day goes by the limited floor space inside becomes filled, as the children find their way into the building despite repeated attempts to move them “afuera.”
The children’s interest is an important part of the necessary change in thinking of companion animal welfare. Our volunteers explain, throughout the day, what we are doing and why, and encourage the children and adults to be an active part of the recovery process. Actually, our recovery process relies on the participation of the owners to encourage awakening from anesthesia through rubbing and stroking and talking to their animal.
In each town we hold a clinic we are provided a light breakfast, usually fruit, and a lunch. Mostly the food is delivered to us and we eat as we can. Occasionally, the meal is served elsewhere and it is necessary for us to leave if we want to eat. This can be frustrating since our work isn’t conducive to dining schedules and so people go in shifts. This was the case in San Angel.
But what we experienced at lunch made any frustration evaporate. This small community came together and each household contributed a dish or a fresh made juice. The food was laid out as an abundant buffet and several of the local women were at hand to explain the dishes and serve us. Most of dishes were Mayan which means that many of the flavors, and some of the ingredients, are unfamiliar to all of us from the States. Chaya figured prominently so it must be the season for this spinach-like jungle green. It is all delicious and we revel in the variety of juices – limeades, pozole with coconut, watermelon, cantaloupe, papaya – after all, even Mexican coca cola can’t keep up with the hydration needs.
Every clinic has one or two dogs and/or people who stand out. Today’s was a boy about 10 years old who captured many of our hearts with his dedication to the recovery of a dog that wasn’t even his! This pup was extremely thin and exhibited some mild neurological symptoms and had really BIG ears (a sure attention getter, especially for me). The dog came in at a time when in-take had slowed down and I scooped the big-eared, scared dog into my arms and sat with him a bit. Later, surgery went well, but recovery took a bit longer than we prefer, though not dangerously so. The recovery team began commenting on the boy’s dedication after he had spent about an hour rubbing, talking, and encouraging the big-eared pup to wake up. I joined recovery team at the end of the day and observed him patiently dripping water into the dog’s mouth, keeping it and the tongue hydrated. He and I sat together for another hour or so, both encouraging ‘our’ pup to wake up. We invited the boy to join us at any future clinic and his mother seemed supportive of the idea. Perhaps we have encouraged a future doctor or vet…..
I just received notice from Kim that we have actually exceeded the $2,000 needed for us to receive the generous match from an anonymous donor. This is incredible news and confirms that what we do for the animals is appreciated.
THANK YOU ALL for helping us achieve this goal.
And don’t let this success keep you from telling other people about us, so that they can donate!
Kantunilkin a success!Posted on May 10, 2013We arrived to our first day/first location to find 36 dogs, cats and people awaiting our services? That was about 8:30 a.m. The last surgery was completed about 6:15 p.m. That surgery was number 82. A full, successful, rewarding day. Even a local policeman brought his dog in for a spay and other police delivered a young female from off the street and promised to care for her.
Of course, there were heart aches: while the dogs of Kantunilkin are generally better fed than others in the area, we did see a number of dogs that survive on one tortilla (corn) each day, and most suffer from the ubiquitous fleas and worms.
But there was also a heart break; a story that is not limited to Mexico, certainly, and ultimately, the resulting emotions are certainly experienced everywhere in the world.
In midafternoon, two young children brought their dog to the clinic for a doctor to see. She had been hit by a car the day before and could not walk. We learn, too, that the dog had aborted puppies shortly after being struck. Dr. Tony, from Planned Pethood Merida, examines her and determines that her back is broken and she has no sensation in her back legs; the kindest thing we can do is euthanize her.
This is NOT a lightly made decision. None of us are in the business of taking a life and the death of an animal brought to one of our clinics has potential repercussions if the communities conclude that their pet will die if they are brought in. So there must be thoughtful communication with the family and we must receive consent before taking action.
I carry the little dog to the back of the building and place her on a surgical table. She is panting, aware of her surroundings, but unable to move. I talk to her and stroke her head while Kim administers the drug that will end this dog’s ordeal. Shortly after the heart has stopped, Morelia appears at my side with a woman who is the dog’s adult owner. Her face, at first, is passive but when I ask if she’d like to say goodbye her eyes well with tears and she gently rubs the dog’s head and speaks softly to her. She tells me that a neighbor has deliberately hit the dog with his car. “He is a man with no heart” she says.
For me, for Kim, for all of us who volunteer with IHSNP, the step of euthanasia is sad, (we hate it) but what hits us hard is the suffering that inevitably came beforehand. Thus, while I am writing this 2 days later, I am again teary over the experience, for the dog, for the children, for the parent, for me.
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