Last Wednesday, veterinary assistants Barb Ashmead and Caitlin McLagan arrived to begin the collaborative project with P.A.W. In the five days before the remaining team members arrived, Barb and Caitlin, along with Madi Collins, (founder of P.A.W.), were able to give presentations at several local schools, educating young children about animal care and humane treatment, and spreading the word about CAAT's presence on the island.
"Since that day, pretty much every kid on the island has stopped us...and they love to ask questions. They asked some really good questions. Cruelty is a big issue here because, as Caitlin pointed out, most of them did not understand that animals can feel. That's never been taught to them - empathy for animals. And so it's a long-term project in that way," Barb commented on their initial experiences.
The bulk of the team assembled at the Vancouver International Airport Sunday afternoon, including veterinarians Dr. Anna Wallace (Vancouver) and Dr. Jennifer Buller (Vancouver Island), RAHTs Monica Fillmore (Penticton), Jackie Emard and DeAnna Cardwell (Vancouver), and assistants Kim Buker (Salmon Arm) and Corinne Barker (Vancouver Island), as well as RAHT and team leader Donna Lasser (Hope), team photographer Jennifer Picard and myself.
Customs and security were incident-free, and the team enjoyed a relaxing dinner before boarding a rainy flight to the US. We arrived in Seattle just after 9pm and were joined by RAHTs Isabelle L'Hebreux (Calgary) and Eve Hollman (Lethbridge). A late-night flight took the team to Houston, where half of the exhausted volunteers boarded a 9am flight, and the second half departed at 1pm.
Shortly after landing in Belize City with all of our luggage and medical supplies in tact, we were joined by veterinarians Dr. Sherisse Sakals (Saskatoon) and Dr. Gina Bowen (Winnipeg), as well as licensed veterinary technician and co-coordinator of CAAT's Ontario chapter, Chris Robinson (Kitchener).