Anally & Joel getting ready to receive patients
During January and February, there was a post-Christmas spike in Covid-19 cases throughout Peru, prompting a whole new set of restrictions. Bi-weekly changes meant that we never knew what was going to happen next, so starting the program up again just didn’t make sense. However, by mid-March, things were settling down, restrictions in Cusco had been consistent for several weeks and importantly, none of the rules prohibited our activities. So, we seized the opportunity to get up and running again!
The Key is in the Preparation
Before we could send our mobile clinic out to the villages, the first job was to employ our clinic staff. After lots of conversations, applications and interviews, we finally found our dream team!
Joel Campana: Our head vet has lots of experience working with small animals, although working in a mobile clinic is new to him! He will be responsible for over-seeing the medical care of all the animals and performing any surgeries.
Anally Espinoza: Having graduated from veterinary school last year, Anally is excited to be assisting Joel to ensure the best medical care. She also speaks Quechua, which is proving to be a real asset with many of the adults in these rural villages.
Maria Cristina Yabar: As our driver and administration assistant, Maria Cristina’s key roles will be getting the team to where they need to be and keeping the project’s records up to date. Since she had another contract to finish up, her husband, Alan, is currently standing in for her and doing a great job!
The second task was to make some upgrades to the mobile, including adding surgical steel worktables and walls, to ensure the highest levels of cleanliness. The third and final job was to gather up all the supplies and medicines we needed, and then we were ready to go!
The First Two Weeks
We’ve just completed our first two weeks, visiting four of the smaller villages on our list. While there have been the inevitable teething issues, it’s been a roaring success! We had a stroke of luck meeting Sulema from the Ministry of Development and Social inclusion on our first day and she has been instrumental in helping us access the villages and ensures that the community presidents give us a good space from which to work. We have now registered 308 dogs and 76 cats (and a sheep) and been able to carry out initial health checks as well as administer anti-parasite medications, flea treatment and vaccines where appropriate. Some of the animals present with respiratory ailments and digestive issues, so the team has been treating them for those too.
Why the Program is so Important
This week, we met the Quispe family in a small rural village on the outskirts of Cusco. Juan , his wife and 7 children live on a piece of land at the edge of the village, in an improvised three-room structure, made from bits of timber, plastic sheeting and corrugated tin. The rest of the property is occupied by 20-30 farm animals (sheep, pigs, goats, chickens), the family’s only source of income, as well as their 12 dogs and 6 cats. Juan tells us that they initially got a couple of dogs to protect the house and the farm animals, and a couple of cats to keep the vermin at bay. But, because they can’t afford to neuter their animals, they end up with more and more. Feeding so many mouths is a challenge, let alone trying to find funds for veterinary care. We asked Juan what he would do if his dogs have any more puppies and he told us straight: they would have no choice but to abandon them.
Juan and his family were glad to see their animals receiving veterinary treatment for the first time and are really excited for the opportunity to get all their dogs and cats neutered! We are so happy to be able to help families like Juan’s, and do our bit towards reducing the numbers of unwanted and abandoned animals in the area. (The names used are not their real names.)
We’ve been very pleased with the uptake so far and are looking forward to continuing our work in other villages, as well as starting the sterilisation aspect of the program in the coming weeks. Of course, we couldn’t do any of this, without you, our generous donors! Please help us spread the word by sharing our project with your friends, family and co-workers. Thank you so much for your continued support!
Who doesn't hate going to the doctor?
Deworming treatments for kitties too!
The Quispe family and their animals