Friday, May 18, 2007

Guyana, Days Five to Ten

Day Five:
Saturday, May 12, 2007

At 9:00 am, we arrive at the SPCA clinic; there are already many people lined up with dogs and cats for exams, possible surgeries, deworming and vaccinations. Several of the dogs are suspected to have heartworm, a problem here.

One dog seen had a tumour in its right eye the size of a golf ball. Terill removed the tumour successfully and the dog’s head was bandaged. We will have to have a look at the eye again in a couple of days. We think that there will be vision in that eye.

Syeada, Jen and Sinobe go to a near by town call Success to pick up an unwanted puppy from a home as well as stray kittens. On the way back into town they found and picked up a very skinny puppy on the side of the highway. They took all of the animals into the GSPCA. Unfortunately, all of their fates are unknown.

The Team worked at SPCA clinic until 7:30pm and retired for the evening, looking forward to a much-needed day off.

Day Six:
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Mother's day & our day off!

Everyone gets to sleep in and enjoy the morning!

The Team meets up at Syeada's house and Syeada's partner Gerry takes us on a wild adventure up the west coast to Fort Island for the day. The eight of us pile into his Toyota pick up truck, four inside and four in the box (it is legal to drive like that here, eek). We drove past endless fields of rice patties, continuous villages one after the other, cows, horses, sheep, and dogs wandering by the side of and across the road. It is not uncommon here to see a cow standing in the middle of the road, and the vehicles have to slow down and drive around it. We also passed by a human cremation site (a large open building where important persons are cremated in front of an audience).

We drove across the longest floating bridge in the world, over the Demeraras River; a further 390-minute drive and we came to a community on the edge of the Essquibo River, called Parika. We parked the vehicle and walked to where all of the boats are anchored and we were immediately surrounded by several aggressive men attempting to convince us to hire their boats. After a price was negotiated, we climbed aboard a small wooden motor boat, which seats about 10- 12 persons, donned our life jackets (many boats don’t have them) and we were taken upriver for approximately twenty minutes to Fort Island and the home of Fort Zeelandia, a brick fortress built in the late 1700's. The population of the island is about 100 people. A two hundred year old church stands in the center of the island, which has now been made into a museum, which we all toured. Our driver of our boat, Leo, gave us a safe boat ride back to Parika where we visited the marketplace and took a few photographs of the locals.

Later that evening, the Team met up for dinner at a restaurant on the seawall and enjoyed some good food and great company. What a great day off!

Day Seven:
Monday, May 14, 2007

Another long day at the GSPCA full of health exams, vaccinations and spays and neuters for the Team. Again, another long line up all day of patients waiting their turn.

Syeada and Jen went into Georgetown and picked up some stray dogs that needed to be spayed/neutered. One of the dogs that they picked up was "Browngirl". She was quite old and had a limp. She was a guard dog at one of the hotels here in town and Syeada faithfully has been feeding her everyday for a long time and they developed a good bond. She was dropped off at the GSPCA and was spayed but her body couldn't handle the surgery, she died afterwards. A post mortem was done on her and it was discovered that she had a serious case of heartworm. This was likely the cause of her death.

Day Eight:

Tuesday, May 15, 2007
9:00 am
Tera and Brenda spoke at a school to about 180 5 1/2 year olds in cute yellow uniforms. They took along Sheeba, a huge friendly Neopolitan Mastiff to demonstrate to children how to approach strange dogs, and talk nicely to them. They showed the children the stethoscope and some of them were able to listen to Sheeba's heartbeat; they were all very excited!! Tera and Brenda were surprised to find out that many of the children had house pets of their own. They also talked about how to be kind to pets/animals, and how to love them and how if they did so they would love them back.

The school was very organized and the level of material on the walls for that age group was unexpected. All the kids cheered and were smiling as we left. Brenda and Tera also brought Canadian stickers for all of the children.

Donna, Jen and Carmella from the GSPCA headed over to a nearby primary school. There were about 100 kids in the room and Donna spoke to them about how to properly treat animals, how to care for them and how to safely approach approaching animals that you don't know. The media had been alerted to the school visit and a cameraman for a Guyanese Television station filmed nearly the entire talk. Donna placed four large posters around the classroom with colour 8x10 photographs depicting dogs receiving hugs and affection, playing ball, cats sleeping contentedly, as well as several photos of neglected dogs, mangy dogs and sickly thin dogs. Syeada provided all of these materials, including a one page hand out which every child was given to take home. The children were eager to answer all of the questions and asked many questions also. Crayons, colouring pages and pencils with Canadian flags were left with the teachers to hand out to the children after we departed. Several children drew photos of their dogs and wrote a story about them, including their names, addresses, and emails if they had one. What a great experience!

At 10:30 after we had visited the school, Gwen, Donna, Vince, Jen, Carmella, left for the day to a town called Uitvlugt to work the remainder of the day. We were dropped off at the town's community centre, where we proceeded to set up our exam/surgical table outside in the shade. For the next seven hours we worked non-stop, seeing 38 dogs, cats, bunnies, and even some sheep. During our surgeries, there must have been at least fifty children and adults crowded around watching. Gwen (Dr. McKenzie) explained her surgeries step by step to all of the curious onlookers. Their eyes were huge as they witnessed their first spay/neuter ever. We headed back to Georgetown at about 6:30 exhausted but contented with a great days work.

Meanwhile, Terill, Brenda and Tera had stayed at the GSPCA and performed spay and neuters all day along with about 30 health examinations & Neil worked a hard day in town on the cart horses.

Day Nine:
Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The surgeries got off to a slow start this morning at the GSPCA due to a load of exams, vaccines, dewormings, and parasite treatments that kept flowing in through the front doors. We finally caught up and started spaying the dogs and cats, which we continued to do throughout the day until 7pm. Every day since our arrival we have eaten a hearty breakfast and have existed on no food but protein bars and water the rest of the day, until supper usually at 8 pm. It tends to take its toll on you after a while. That combined with the extreme heat and humidity 24 hours per day and you start to feel pretty weak and light-headed by the end of a workday. Power outages are a very common occurrence here. Today we lost power at about 2pm and when we left the SPCA clinic at 7:30pm the power was still off. As it became darker and darker, we had to perform surgery with a flashlight. Rather frustrating, to say the least!

We have our day off tomorrow, and have made arrangement to travel by small airplane to Kiateur Falls (approx. one hour's travel). Kiateur Falls is the tallest waterfall in the world and is located in the central interior of Guyana, in the dense rainforest. We will be away for the whole day.

Day Ten:
Thursday May 17, 2007

The day began with the very disappointing news that our trip to the falls had been cancelled, due to maintenance on the plane and also due to the weather. It is presently Guyana's rainy season, especially in the central interior where we were to travel today. We have rebooked this trip to take place on Sunday, hopefully. That will be our last chance to go.

Neil (Dr. McKenzie) was given a free seat on a small plane to travel today and tomorrow to an area in the interior very close to the Brazil border. CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) and one of their representatives in Guyana, Jean Lowry, requested that one of our veterinarians go along and start vaccinating the hundreds of sheep against rabies. Rabies is a severe threat in the large animal population in Guyana, due to vampire bats. CAAT had a large number of Rabies vaccines donated by Intervet before we left home last week, which is very much appreciated, and being put to very good use here.

Because our trip was cancelled to the falls, we decided to go shopping instead and explore downtown Georgetown by foot a little more. We also got to see the largest wooden building in the world. It is St. Georges Cathedral and it is beautiful. After a few hours of shopping and buying souvenirs we decided to go to the Pegasus Hotel to go swimming and lay by the pool. Now, that was relaxing!!!!! We then ate dinner there and returned home for the night.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Guyana, South America

Project: Guyana, South America
May 8th-May 23rd, 2007

Due to communication difficulties, this is the first contact with the team in Guyana. Below is four days worth of journals. To view pictures of the trip, please visit

More Blog entries and photos will be added as they are sent from the Team.

Day One:
Tuesday, May 8th, 2007
Team arrives at Vancouver International Airport
Team Members:
- Donna Lasser, R.A.H.T & Team Leader
- Jennifer Picard, Photographer
- Dr. Neil McKenzie, Equine Specialist
- Dr. Gwen McKenzie, Small Animal Veterinarian
- Dr. Terill Udenberg, Small Animal Veterinarian
- Brenda Russell, R.A.H.T.
- Vince Nickel, Veterinary Assistant

We sorted through all of our medical supplies and distributed them amongst all of our suitcases, as we were only allowed to take two bags per person, with a maximum weight of 60 pounds each.

The two medical supply suitcases were slightly overweight and the carrier wouldn't make any exceptions; we were therefore charged an extra $80 for overweight luggage.
We boarded our flight at 4:15pm bound for Toronto and embarked on an adventure of a lifetime, arriving at Pearson International Airport in Toronto at 11:30pm. Tera Udenberg, R.A.H.T. arrived half an hour later on a flight from Edmonton, Alberta to complete the team.

We then proceeded to look for a comfy place to sleep as our flight was not scheduled to depart until 6:30 am, bound for Georgetown, Guyana, South America.

We found some big ol' comfy couches in the lobby of the Sheridan Hotel (in the Airport) and remained there for 6 hours until we had to check in for our flight. (Fortunately, the people working there were nice enough to not kick us out!)

Day Two:
Wednesday, May 9, 2007

After virtually no sleep and consuming too many sugary cookies we proceeded to go check in for our flight at 4: 45 am in the morning. We again had to do some rearranging of all our medical supplies as we didn't want to be overweight again and have to pay extra.

The carrier was nice enough to make exceptions for us by letting us take all of our vaccination bags on the plane, in spite of the fact that we were over our carry-on limit of one bag each weighing no more than 5kg.
We then boarded our flight at 6:30 am and took off at 7:00am bound for the unknown. It was a six hour flight filled with lots of turbulence, bad movies, much needed sleep, and just overall good times.

We arrived in Georgetown, Guyana at 12:55pm and were welcomed with a blast of hot humid air, partly due to the fact that we disembarked from the plane directly onto the tarmac. We then stood in line for an hour and waited for our turn to pass through customs. Thankfully, we had no problems getting our drugs and medical supplies through customs. We were welcomed by Joyce Gomez, Native of Guyana and presently a resident of Vancouver, B.C., Oliver Insanally of the GSPCA, and Dr. Nicholas Waldron, Veterinarian.

On our way to Georgetown from the Airport we were amazed with the number of cattle, horses, goats, donkeys and dogs that were running loose on the side of the road. We were also a little confused and petrified with the driving conditions. Everyone here drives on the left side of the road; there are no street signs or stoplights; everyone walks all over the roads, children, animals, bikes, horse drawn carts, people carrying loads on their heads; and here the cars have the right away, not the pedestrians.

Our guides were kind enough to pick us up and take us out to dinner for some Guyanese food and then took us to a meeting where we were greeted by the entire board of directors from the GSPCA. The purpose of this meeting was to go over our itinerary for the next 14 days and collectively plan out what we wanted to accomplish over the next 2 weeks.

During the meeting Jen's legs became a feast for many hungry mosquitoes! She developed quite the swollen ankles, something that Donna has struggled with on previous trips…

Next, we settled into our rooms at the Rima Guesthouse in the heart of Georgetown graciously provided by Joyce Gomez. We all then passed out surrounded by our mosquito netted beds! Ah, relief!

Day Three:
Thursday, May 10, 2007.

6:30 am Wake up, 3:30 Vancouver time! Whew!
We were picked up at 7:15am by a couple of members of the GSPCA and then
proceeded to go out for a lovely breakfast at the Pegasus Hotel on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

After breakfast, we went to a meeting at the Ministry of Agriculture where we were introduced to the Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Elias as well as several other Veterinarians from different regions in the country (mainly large animal vets). The meeting ended around 11:00am and were transported to the GSPCA where we commenced our first day of surgeries (12 in total).

A woman by the name of Syeada Manbodh, who has done tremendous work for the dogs and cats in Guyana, took Jen out on a stray dog-feeding mission. Syeada makes food at her home and feeds these stray dogs everyday in different parts of the city. She took Jen to the poorest neighbourhood in Georgetown called Boystown where she gave a little boy with a dog on a rope a brand new leash & collar. He was so happy and thankful.

They also put up some posters for a cat named Princess that has been living at the Highschool and is in need of a good home. She is such a sweet cat.

Our Equine Veterinarian, Dr. Neil Mackenzie went into the streets of Georgetown and began working with the cart-horses. At one point the cart-horses and their owners were lined up down the road patiently waiting for their examinations. Equine Encephalitis has been a major health problem amongst the horses in Guyana for many years and Neil was able to vaccinate each horse against this disease, with vaccines donated from Intervet and Wyeth. He was also able to diagnose several cases of lameness, and other health problems. All of the horses he examined were also given dewormer, courtesy of Vetoquinol.

After a hard days work we convinced the president of the GSPCA, Oliver to take us across the street to the busy market place, which he reluctantly agreed to. The market was mainly filled with fruits and vegetables and even some hoodlums. We unfortunately witnessed a guy getting punched in the face and then being chased by another man with a knife. One of the team members, Tera, had to hide behind her father Terill as the man with the knife came running past her. Scary moments. Everyone bought some coconuts, cut open by a gentleman with a machete (and only four fingers…) and drank the milk through a straw.

At the end of the day, the group all went for dinner across the street from the their rooms and then prepared their medical supplies for the next day.

Day Four:
Friday, May 11, 2007

After breakfast the Team met at the Canadian Embassy to register as being in the country of Guyana. We requested a meeting with the Canadian High Commissioner and were ushered into his office where we discussed the purpose for our visit and our long-term goals for the animals.

As fate would have it, Ms Lawrie from CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency)
was scheduled to meet with the High Commissioner and joined in on our meeting, where we created the possibilities of CAAT working with CIDA in Guyana in the near future.

Ecstatic about our meeting, we left for a hard days work at the GSPCA where we were able to spay 8 dogs, and 2 cats. We also had the opportunity to do health exams on several dogs and cats. All animals were vaccinated (Vaccines provided by Intervet), had ear cleanings, and had Revolution (Donated by Pfizer) applied.

At 3:00 pm several of the team members met with the Minister of Agriculture for the Country where we were able to state our purposes for coming to Guyana as well as our long term objectives.

We then returned to the GSPCA at 4:30pm and performed four more surgeries and then retired for the night at 8pm.


Donate Now Through!