Sunday, September 19, 2010
I volunteered at both clinics with a mother and daughter who adopted our third foster dog, Kima. We didn’t know each other before, but since they adopted Kima we’ve become friends. They’ve met a number of our foster puppies and have taken care of our zoo while we’ve gone on vacation.
The Blood Reserve Wellness Clinic is held twice annually and provides free spay and neuter surgeries, free vaccinations and limited amounts of pet food. The operation requires a massive amount of volunteers, many of whom are highly skilled (vets and vet techs). The others typically come from various Calgary-based rescue groups. The September 2010 clinic had volunteers from the ABSNTF, AARCS, Pound Rescue, the Humane Society and ARF (possibly from other groups!). The three day clinic is paid for through donations and grant funding (I believe!). Volunteers make the three hour drive south and typically stay overnight in Cardston at their expense – but it’s more than worth every penny.
This year’s clinic was held in a community centre – basically a big gymnasium that housed an area for crates in line for vet checks, an area for sedated dogs in crates, a big area for surgeries, an area for animals recovering after surgery, an area for animals to be picked up, an area for sterilizing equipment, laundry and for paperwork. Vets and vet techs do surgery beneath the basketball nets under the newly purchased trouble-lights.
Volunteers, myself included, wash crates, walk dogs, nurse kittens, tend to dogs as they recover and wake up etc. Some run into town to do laundry at the Laundromat because the clinic uses so many old towels, sheets and blankets. Others transport young puppies to another facility to reduce their chances of illness.
The first day of the clinic is the most interesting. Teams of volunteers go door to door in the various communities explaining the clinic – the concept is familiar and well received. Community members give permission to have their animal fixed. They can also surrender animals, and permission must be granted to remove an animal from any home. Some dogs have never been in a crate or on a leash, so getting them rounded up is interesting. From here, they go back to the clinic facility with their paperwork and are eventually see by a team of vets and vet techs, and the correct dosage for the anaesthetic is calculated based on the animal’s weight. The first day starts at 10am (after a drive from Calgary) and ends around 10pm. On the second day, volunteers arrive to walk the dogs after a night in the crate, clean crates and get ready for the surgeries. Vets arrive and the process begins. Animals fixed during the morning surgeries can pick up their animals in the afternoon (or have them dropped off). Families are given instructions on how to care for the animal following surgery. They also receive food, typically donated by manufacturers or individuals in Calgary.
More and more people respond that their pets are already fixed when volunteers go door to door. Progress is being made. But there is no shortage of heartbreaking stories. I transported a 4-5 month old puppy for AARCS; the pup had had a collar tied tightly around his neck – so bad it had left an open wound. A 12 year old dog came in with a fractured foot (old injury, healed) and quills to the same leg. He was too old for his surgery, but had the quills removed.
The work of the Alberta Spay & Neuter Task Force wouldn’t be possible without donations, sponsorship, grant funding, and the contributions of various rescue organizations, including the Calgary Humane Society and ARF. The ABSNTF will hold another clinic for Siksika Nation over the first weekend in October. The next clinic for the Blood Reserve will be held in June.