Friday, September 11, 2009

Baker Lake, Nunavut: Day 2

*Note: The Canadian Animal Assistance Team would like to thank Calm Air for donating two FREE flights to CAAT Baker Lake team members. Calm Air, we would be unable to serve remote Northern communities without you- THANK YOU for your commitment to helping us continue to provide veterinary care in the great white North!

After a good night's rest in their cushy digs, team Baker Lake was ready for action on Tuesday morning (September 8th). The team agreed to spend the morning unpacking the supply cases and setting up the clinic, and then officially open to the public starting at 1pm. After a team meeting at the house, everyone set off to the "clinic" site, a classroom in the Nunavut Arctic College here in town. The weather was cloudy and incredibly windy on the first work day, and team members were certainly grateful for all of the extra winter clothing that they had packed!

Community members Sheila Sweetwater and Mona Autut have been instrumental in booking surgeries and vaccination appointments for the CAAT team. Mona especially has spent hours assisting with everything from fundraising to communicating with owners to ferrying dogs and cats to and from their houses pre-and post-surgeries. Team Baker Lake loves Mona, and her smiling face is a pleasure to see every morning!

On Tuesday, Dr Janet, Julie, and Christina spent a busy afternoon working the vaccine table while the other two teams, composed of 1) Dr. Gina, Vanessa, and Caitlin and 2) Dr. Jess, Laura, and Dee, worked the two surgery tables. All in all, over 20 animal were vaccinated and four surgeries were performed. Not too bad for only half a day's work! One of the dogs was a graceful and elegant Irish Wolfhound; pretty much the last breed the team expected to see in a remote Arctic community! One very exciting development from the day was the invitation for team leaders Gina and Caitlin to speak on the local radio station about why CAAT is visiting Baker Lake. The radio time would also afford community members an opportunity to phone in and ask any questions relating to animal care.

After arriving at the radio "station" at 7pm, Gina and Caitlin waited nervously to go on the air. When it was finally their time to shine, they took turns describing spay/neuter surgeries, vaccinations, deworming, and some ailments common in Northern dogs. After speaking for around 45 minutes, the two women were suddenly inundated with phone questions. Community members asked questions ranging from how deworming works, to whether crushed egg shells would kill internal parasites (no!), to why should they spay and neuter their animals. Gina and Caitlin were indebted to the wonderful Vera Avaala, who acted as Inuktitut translator. Vera was a great sport, considering she was subjected to a crash course in basic veterinary terms prior to the radio show!

Later that evening, upon visiting Sheila Sweetwater to check on her post-surgical dogs, it was learned that she had been flooded with phone calls to book appointments. It appeared that the radio show was a success! Gina and Caitlin then headed home to join the rest of the team in having some good hearty laughs before heading to bed in preparation for the first full day of work.

Please note that we are still working on uploading photos. Thank you for your patience!

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