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April 13, 2008 -34 animals sterilized
 on this day by our wonderful veterinarian!

I was almost in a panic early in the day. At the last minute, several previous volunteers (including two of our KEY volunteers) informed me that they would not be able to attend. One was Yina Ortiz, who mixes and administers the anesthesia. Another was Lynn Longbons, who administered the post-op injections and cleaned the animals post-op. Lynn, a nurse, had been up all night because there was a death in her neighborhood and she had to be available to give a statement to the authorities whenever they arrived.

None of our volunteers can be faulted for not being able to attend. At our sterilization clinics everyone works very hard all day with no pay except for the satisfaction that they have helped a large number of animals. Emergencies happen, people are sometimes sick, out of town, etc. Actually, now that we are having the clinics every month with only one doctor, most "stations" require only one volunteer. The recovery area requires two people, and the weigh-in/anesthesia area requires two - some of the cats and dogs "vigorously" object to being weighed and anesthetized. 

Therefore, we want to have at least three people and/or teams trained for each position. That way, each person or team (except for me, Dr. Tello and Jose Espinosa, my employee) will need to work only every third clinic. And when someone has an emergency, we will have a backup available.

Fortunately, Dr. Tello has never failed to show up, on time, and he comes all the way to Volcan from Costa Rica. I pay him a pittance considering the wonderful work he does. 

The clinic on April 13th:  Dr. Tello arrived from Costa Rica at 8:00 a.m. and asked, "Are we ready to begin?" My reply was, "Not even close!"

Dr. Tello immediately began mixing anesthesia and showed Fariza how to do it. (It is a different mixture for dogs and cats; we have a chart which indicates the amount to be given according to weight of the animal.)  Yina Ortiz then came for a couple of hours in order to help Fariza. In addition to anesthesia, Fariza also gave the pre-op injections of antibiotics and pain medication.

Cindy Reichert had volunteered to do pre-op. Because of all the confusion, she then was routed to handle post-op. We had begun training her for that, when at about 9:00 a.m., Norma Miranda, a friend of Fariza's arrived. Norma is experienced in giving injections, so we decided that she would handle post-op duties, including tattooing the ears of dogs.

About that time, I noticed that our registrar had not shown up, and had not given me any notice that he would not be there. So Cindy then graciously volunteered to handle the registration. (She did a fantastic job!) Registration may sound simple, but it is actually quite complicated. The registrar makes a note on the sign-in sheet when the people arrive for their appointments....often not remotely corresponding to the time of their appointment. Then she has them complete and sign their registration form and gives them the instructions they are to follow during the few days after the surgery has been done on their animal(s). She notes the amount of their financial contribution, if any, on the sign-in sheet, accepts the money, and writes the amount on their sign-in sheet. Then she assigns sequential numbers for each animal, which she notes on the sign-in sheet. Then she writes that particular number, the name of the animal, whether it is a dog or cat, male or female, on a plastic tag that will be tied to the leg of the animal.

The people who weigh the animal write the weight of the dog or cat on the tag and note the amount of anesthesia that was given. Then along the "assembly line" a check mark is made beside spaces which indicate when the animal has been given injections for antibiotics, pain, anti-parasite, vitamin B-12, and Rabies vaccine.

After the area for surgery has been shaved and cleaned with sterile body wash, then the animal is carried to the operating table for Dr. Tello to perform surgery. After he finishes, the animal is then carried to the post-op table...more injections including Rabies vaccinations for dogs, tattooing the ears, and cleaning the blood from the animal - which is sometimes substantial depending on the surgery that was performed. There is very little blood after a normal spay and neuter. But if there are complications, if an animal is in heat, if an abortion is performed, or a tumor is removed, there is often significant blood to be cleaned from the fur and body of the animal.

After the post-op duties have been completed, the animal is then carried to the recovery area. Volunteers then monitor the temperature and heart rate of the animal every few minutes, the results of which they note on the tag along with the time of each check.

So with a somewhat hectic beginning of the day, everything worked out wonderfully! We did encounter a flooding/drainage problem (which I think has now been corrected by my employee, Jose Espinosa). The waiting area, plus part of the recovery area is on a covered front porch.  We had a sudden heavy downpour and quickly had to move everyone and the animals inside when water about three inches deep came flooding across the porch.

By the way, some very good news from the March clinic: The very skinny, dehydrated 25-lb dog from which Dr. Tello removed a 4-lb tumor is now normal weight and she is happy and healthy. And the dog from which he removed an eye is also doing very well.  http://www.spaypanama-chiriqui.org/Eighth.html 

Amazingly, there were no abortions necessary at this April clinic, and there was only one tumor removed. It was not a venereal tumor but a large tumor of a mammary gland. Dr. Tello said it was cancerous but encapsulated. He said the dog will be fine now that the tumor has been removed. 

Again, thanks to our caring volunteers who contribute funds, their time, and/or both. This work could not be done without you wonderful people! After listing the volunteers and contributions below, I will post pictures taken during the clinic. Some of the pictures may be disturbing to some people. (Actually, there are fewer potentially "disturbing" pictures from this clinic than from any of our past clinics. That shows that we are making progress!) But for those who object to seeing what is real life for many of the animals here in Panama, please do not look at the pictures. They appear at the very end of this page, so you can skip them if you wish.

MANY thanks to our wonderful volunteers and contributors:

Cindy Reichert, who served as registrar and did an excellent job!
Yina Ortiz...although she could be there for only a short time, she was a big help. 
Jose Espinosa, who helps weigh and tag the animals and give the anesthesia; Jose also uses my car to bring animals to the clinic when necessary and to take them home after surgery. (Also, thanks to Betsy Boeve who helped pick up some animals and bring them to the clinic.)
Fariza Castillo, who mixed and administered the anesthesia; and also gave the pre-op injections of antibiotics and pain prevention. (Fariza also comes to the clinic on the Mondays following the Sunday clinics to help Jose and me to clean up and organize.)
Bob Wald, who did shaving and pre-op cleaning of the animals;
Norma Miranda, who performed post-op treatment and injections  - such as anti-parasite, vitamin B-12, and Rabies vaccinations plus treatment for fleas and ticks; she also tattooed the ears of the dogs to indicate they have been sterilized. 
Denise Reed and Sharon Borgman, who did a wonderful job in the recovery area, checking and recording the temperatures and vital signs of the animals as they recovered from the anesthesia.
Yimel Caballero and Eymi Pitti Arcia, high school students, who helped clean and sterilize the instruments. (They now have obligations so they arrive late and leave around 2:00 p.m.) Therefore,
Gabriel Castillo was trained in the cleaning of instruments and the use of the autoclave; he did a great job.
Tom Rennen helped carry the animals from one station to another. He is bi-lingual and he was also a big help in translating when needed. (Tom's web site is http://panamawest.com )

Also, thanks to to Dra. Laura Kieswetter of Volcan. Laura has a full-time job with the government and her expertise is mainly with large animals. But Laura has had some training by Dr. Escrucias of the McKee Foundation with the sterilization of dogs and cats, and Laura volunteers to have people call her after the clinics if they have any problems or questions about their animals post-surgery. Fortunately, because of the expertise of Dr. Tello, there are almost never any post-surgery problems. If any do occur, it is usually because the owners have not followed the post-op care instructions which they are given when they register.

By the way, after sterilizing 541 dogs and cats here in Volcan, we have had only one death during a clinic. And this was because the dog was in poor health to begin with. (We have no way of knowing that because we don't have the time or the facilities evaluate an animal beforehand except visually. Some are so skinny that I would turn them away, but Dr. Tello knows what he is doing, and when he accepts them, they do fine.)  This particular dog already had fluid in her lungs, and despite giving CPR, there was nothing else we could do. The owner, of course, was devastated. Fortunately, I had taken a very good picture of her and her dog while they were waiting, which I printed on a 8x10 page and took to her. She was very appreciative.

Our mortality rate is practically nil. Only one death in the surgery of 541 animals (with some of the surgeries being very extensive) is phenomenal. We are essentially a "Mash Unit." How many vets in the US can claim this low mortality rate when they (supposedly) have the latest, best, and most sophisticated equipment available - and charge big bucks for their services?

Thanks again to Ruby McKenzie (who holds the sterilization clinics in Boquete and surrounding areas), who allows me to borrow her 65-lb scale whenever I need it. (I will have my own scale for the June clinic. It has been delivered to Ronald Miller in the US, who very graciously volunteered to bring it with him in mid-May, thus avoiding the high shipping charges and custom's bureaucracy in Panama.)

Thanks very much to Lynda Marshall who contributed 20 sandwiches, and to Jennifer Taylor who contributed 15 sandwiches. And to Denise Reed who brought a WONDERFUL fruit salad!  I have a dehydrator, so I took some dried applies and pears. Those seemed to be appreciated  as well. I also provided Bambito bottled water and chips.

At these clinics I am very busy and I'm thinking of about 100 things at once. Around 10:30 I noticed that we had no soft drinks and figured that the person who had volunteered to contribute them had forgotten. So thanks again to Jennifer Taylor. I gave her some money and she went to the store for our soft drinks.

Please forgive me if I have neglected to mention any volunteers or contributors!

Income and financial donations:

$   245.00

contributions by owners for surgeries (and thanks very much to the Ana Mendicino who contributed $40 for the neutering of her male cat)  


cash donation by "anonymous" 


cash donation by Bob & Lynn Wald


cash donation by Freda & Steve Clark from Florida ($500 less $15 wiring fees). They saw the link to my web site on one of the Yahoo groups and sent a very generous donation. Their web site is http://clarkewaste.com/

$   785.00

total cash contributions

Expenses:  Approximate cost of $20 for each of 23 dogs equals $460; $10 cost for each of 11 cats equals $110; rent for the month of April, $100, for a total approximate cost of $670.00.

I still try to base the actual cost at $20 for each dog and $10 for each cat, but I suspect that figure is low...but who cares - for me and others who contribute and volunteer, this is a labor of love.

For April we had an approximate surplus of $115. 

Following are a few pictures taken during the April 11, 2008 clinic:

Sharon Borgman works in recovery.

Denise Reed (left) checks an animal in recovery while Cindy Reichert (right) observes.

Eymi and Yimel at the autoclave.

Dr. Tello at work. Each animal is covered with a sterile drape (about 50 cents each) and Dr. Tello, of course, uses a new pair of sterile gloves for each surgery.

Bob Wald works in pre-op. 

This was our porch after the sudden flooding.

The rain had stopped but a lot of water remained on the porch.

Tom Rennen works in pre-op.

Jose Espinosa, my wonderful employee, who does anything and everything.

A woman waits for her beloved doggie to have his turn. (This one looks a lot like my own dog whose name is  "Buster Brown.")

Norma Miranda takes care of a BIG dog in post-op.

This is he mammary tumor that Dr. Tell was in the process of removing.

This is the mammary tumor after Dr. Tello removed it.

Although the picture of the dog above (and the picture to the right) had nothing specifically to do with the clinic, here is another success story and a happy ending.

Please see my comments about this dog below. She has several deep sores like this one. I thought our readers would like to know that there IS hope for these tragically mistreated animals.

Some of our volunteers rescued this dog from the street. I had been giving them (dry) dog food for her, antibiotics, salve, antibiotic spray, anti-parasite treatment, etc., but in a month's time her wounds didn't seem to be much better. And she didn't look like she had gained an ounce of weight. Poor thing was skin and bones. We brought her to the clinic for Dr. Tello to evaluate. He said she had probably been tied on a very short chain and forced to sleep on wet, cold concrete, and that the wounds were essentially like deep bed sores. (There is a welt around her neck where she had been tied. Fortunately, she had somehow escaped her "owners"...or maybe they just turned her out into the street to die.)

Dr. Tello said she will be fine, but she will need constant care and a very high-protein diet. These wounds can't begin to heal until she has gained some weight. I sent some money with Betsy Boeve to buy two pounds of liver for the dog. She devoured it in nothing flat. (Thanks also to Andrea Gonella for donating $10 to buy more liver for the dog.)

Then Fariza Castillo volunteered to keep the dog at her house and care for her until we could find someone to adopt her. I took Fariza a big bucket of the raw, high-protein diet that I feed my own dogs, and some milk plus cream that I skim off the raw milk that I buy. I also gave Fari more medication and antibiotics to give to the dog.

Then I had some very good news. Ruby McKenzie called me from Boquete and said that Nairn Kennedy in Boquete had volunteered to take this dog. Nairn is an absolute SAINT. She takes in and rehabilitates up to 15 dogs at a time and then manages to find good homes for them. On Friday, April 18th, I took the dog to David where Ruby met me to deliver the dog to Nairn in Boquete. When I picked up the dog at Fariza's, I was amazed that she had visibly gained weight. Dr. Tello was right still again. The high-protein diet had done wonders for this sweet dog. I also took some Zip-lock bags of my raw nutritious  high-protein "food mixture" for Ruby to give to Nairn.

My heartfelt thanks to all of our wonderful volunteers and everyone who participates in the sterilization process for these dogs and cats. We simply could not provide this vital service without you!  We love you all - and so do these fortunate animals! Together we are making a difference!

Here in Volcan, our small group has been responsible for sterilizing 412 animals to date. Added to the 129 animals that Spay/Panama (from Panama City) sterilized in in Volcan in February of 2005, we have sterilized 541 dogs and cats! There are many more to go, but we are making progress! Now that we are able to hold the clinics once every month, we will progress even faster. Our goal is to sterilize at least 75% of the dogs and cats in the Volcan area, and thus almost completely solve the problem of homeless dogs and cats, and the terrible venereal disease suffered by so many dogs.

Dorothy Atwater - 771-5883 or 6780-2565 or viajar2566@yahoo.com

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