Last week Spay Panama hosted another Spay/Neuter clinic in Chitre. As a leader of the Animal Advocates of Pedasí, I facilitated arranging for dogs and cats from the Pedasí area to be transported to the clinic. This also meant finding enough kennels & crates as well as vehicles to transport all sizes of dogs and cats along with our volunteers. We advertised in the local Pedasiaño newspaper, posted flyers around town, FaceBook, and word of mouth. Thanks to a great team, we took 4 dogs and 9 cats in 4 vehicles on Saturday morning and 5 more cats in 2 vehicles on Sunday. This means 16 animals will not be producing anymore babies. We had scheduled to pick up more dogs, but some got sick at the last minute or we were unable to arrange for transportation in time.
As I believe I have mentioned before, it has been a real problem in Panama, with many unwanted and stray animals throughout the country. So Pat Chan, who I got to officially meet last week at the clinic, started this organization in Panama City, and now sends a bus with a team of volunteer veterinarians and assistants, some from other countries all over the world, all the necessary equipment and meds to different areas of Panama throughout the year. Low-cost sterilization clinics are set up in open basketball courts, community centers, etc. Go to spaypanama.org for more information. Hundreds of animals are brought in to each clinic by their owners and others such as our group. There was one elderly lady who kept walking in with a dog or cat from her neighborhood. She would check them in, make sure they got the anesthesia shot and then go back out, only to return with another to be spayed or neutered. Transportation is arranged to bring in the animals and their owners voluntarily with the local taxis, buses, vans, and police vehicles. All the monies collected are considered donations, so if someone cannot afford the $12-$25 suggested donation, they are not turned away. Our own group helps to pay for those in Pedasí who cannot afford by raising funds and accepting donations with our own fundraisers.
This is the 3rd Spay Panama blitz I have been to; the others from Animal Advocates who volunteered to transport and assist had never been to one. Before they came, they weren’t sure how this could work or even how sterile it could be, especially conducting one in an open covered basketball court. But the feedback I received expressed how amazed they were and what a great time they had; many not only brought and supervised their animals, but assisted the vets by carrying many animals from one station to the next (preparation to surgery to recovery). Two went back the next day bringing more cats. It is a very rewarding experience.
I had been in contact with the founder, Pat Chan, by email, but finally met her at this clinic officially. She shared with me about a future 6-day spay/neuter blitz in the Azuero next October – 2 days in Chitre, 1 day in La Villa, 2 days in Las Tablas, and 1 more day where she hopes she can do in Pedasí if our group will help sponsor. I am really excited about bringing them to our little town and after speaking with some of our team, I think we will be hosting Spay Panama in October. We had our own little clinic here last August, but having Spay Panama come will certainly help in advertising and costs; or as Pat Chat said, “It will certainly put us (Pedasí and Animal Advocates) on the map!”
Another goal of Animal Advocates of Pedasí is to educate the public not only about the importance of sterilizing our dogs and cats, but in the proper teatment and care of our pets. We hope to do this through our ads in the newspaper, a presentation in the schools, distributing information, and word of mouth. An example of how some Panamanians treat their animals is when I was walking Bella on her leash through the pueblo the other day, there were 2 loose dogs barking at us as we walked by with 2 children standing near them. The one girl kicked one dog to try to get it to stop barking; the boy through a rock at the other dog. I did my best to tell them not to do that; the barking wasn’t bothering or scaring me and they only needed to command the dogs to stop barking, but not hurt them. I don’t think they fully understood; this is what they have always known to do. There are actually laws in Panama regarding the treatment of animals, but not much is enforced. But another example shows that some are starting to change. JJ, our former neighbor, brought his 9 cats to the clinic this time. Watching him as he lovingly picked up each cat out of the kennel showed how much he cares for them and they trust him. Later, he saw another cat wandering around the clinic after it had woke up from surgery. No one was claiming it. Finally he found out where it was from, went to the house, and after realizing that the owner did not care for the cat, asked if he could take it because he would feed and care for it. I know he already has 9 cats, but he treats them as part of his family and has room in his heart for 1 more. At least it has been fixed.
I am posting lots of pictures of our day, some I took and some others have sent me. Hopefully they express the fulfilling satisfaction of having the opportunity to support this important cause.