Friday, March 13, 2009


Upon waking, the team knew another very hot day was upon them. Even the ocean breeze could do little to combat the island’s intense heat.

Last night’s trapping was a disappointment, producing very few animals – a large percentage of the traps were tampered with, presumably by locals who are opposed to CAAT’s work on the island, and the remaining traps ensnared animals we’d captured previously. With only three days of work to go, and nine missing cat traps, the team worked hard to remain positive in light of its many challenges.

Thankfully, there was good news on the horizon.

“We had one golf cart donated to us for a day by Molly, who owns the hardware shop, and Annie, who’s Chocolate’s wife. It was amazing. They split the cost and they rented it to us for a day," said Caitlin. “We were able to expand and trap all over the island, which is something that we just haven’t been able to afford to do before now.”

A second golf cart was donated to us by Tammy and Michael, a Canadian couple originating from Revelstoke, BC. The carts, while allowing us to accomplish more than ever before in terms of animal pick-ups and trapping, caused the team to be dispersed and less effective than on previous days.

Barb, Caitlin, Eve and Chris headed out to the dump to pick up a mother dog, who recently bore a litter of puppies. She was brought into the clinic for spaying, while high school students came to observe surgeries, granting Dr. Jen a standing ovation as she began a dog spay.

High school students observe Dr. Jennifer in surgery

Dr. Sherisse manned the vaccine table for much of the day, assisted by Kim, who then spent the afternoon with animals in recovery. The team was aided by Donna, who worked as a technician for several hours.

Isabelle with a scruffy patient


Meanwhile, DeAnna visited the elementary school, presenting a collection of drawings by students at her eight-year-old daughter’s school. She spoke to a class of thirty-plus students there about life in Canada, requesting that they draw pictures illustrating their lives on Caye Caulker to exchange with her daughter’s class.

DeAnna speaks to the Standard 1 class at the elementary school

DeAnna explains a drawing to the young students

A student shares his drawing

Eve and Kim were able to find a home for Choncho, the puppy who had been in our care since Tuesday. “I guess his real story is that a woman at the council office – he was sort of her puppy - she didn’t want it. He ended up at the basketball court, and the lady was kicking him around, so her co-worker took the puppy. He was the one who brought him to us,” she said. The new owner, Val, holds down jobs at the post office here and in Belize City. “Her sister-in-law lives with her in Belize and will be there during the day to feed the puppy and she has two little girls...she assured me they would wrap it up like a baby and carry it around,” Eve elaborated.

Carmen holds little Choncho

Dr. Anna was working hard to get Charlie on her flight back to Vancouver over the last few days. “They don’t like to fly them on weekends,” she explained. Her flight is the most direct: a twelve-hour flight with only a brief stop in Houston where there are kennel facilities. Officials at the Belize airport are helping to organize Charlie’s safe transport to Canada, where she can receive the care she so requires.

Dr. Anna performs a cat neuter

Today's greatest achievement was the capture and spay of Bambi, a skittish female dog in heat whom the team had been after for days (along with an enormous number of male dogs on the island). Dr. Gina and Corinne were responsible for bringing her into the clinic. "A lady came by – Amanda, a British lady - and she said that Bambi was sleeping outside her place. For some reason she knew that we were trying to catch this dog. So she told us she could take us in her golf cart to go get her," recounted Dr. Gina. "We went there, but she was gone." The three ladies then headed for the beach and found Bambi sleeping next to a fence with her bodyguard, a ten-pound Pekinese-Chihuahua cross with a mouth full of teeth.

"Any time you’d go near to her or look at her, she'd put her head up!" Dr. Gina slipped behind the fence and was able to inject Bambi with a sedative. "We got the drug into her, but of course she jumped up and took off."

Bambi ran back inland, with Amanda, Corinne and Dr. Gina in hot pursuit. "We were just trying to follow her and not lose her because she was going to get sleepy," said Dr. Gina. Bambi and the smaller dog ran into an empty lot. "And the empty lot was owned by a man that doesn’t want people on his property!" Corinne interjected.

By this point, Bambi was sedated and completely catchable, except that the male dog was barking and attacking in an attempt to defend.

"This little feister...he would have taken on the biggest pitbull in the world! He wasn’t backing down," said Corinne. "I’m trying to distract him, ‘cause I’m trying to get him to come on with me." Corinne managed to get a rope around the toothy dog's leg but he lunged forward and nipped her hand. "Just a little knick on my thumb here. It broke the skin. It looked a little bloody. But I’m on antibiotics, just in case," she said.

Bambi was up and running again. Dr. Gina and Corinne had recruited the help of several local men, chasing both dogs through several yards and even crawling under a chain link fence. "I got across the field, and she was snagged...they threw the blanket over her and that was it," explained Dr. Gina, who then returned to the clinic to perform Bambi's spay.

DeAnna and Gina during Bambi's spay

Bambi goes under the knife

A close-up of Bambi's surgery

Caitlin made mention of how positively the community has received CAAT's help. "I wish I was writing stuff down, being out and about," she said. Unfortunately, much of the team doesn't get a chance to hear feedback because they are busy working at the clinic. "It’s very heart-warming," Caitlin continued. "Lots of local people have thanked us for coming and doing this work on the island. The kids run up and they talk about their animals. That’s exactly what we want - that kind of interest in animals."

"For a disorganized day, we still got a lot done," said Monica. "It’s too bad we’re going home so soon ‘cause now it seems like everyone’s starting to get excited about us."

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