Just another spay in paradise

It feels like forever ago now, but August saw our biggest and most successful clinic since the start of our ‘Panama Dogs’ venture with the dogs here in Panama. Our amazing vet, Sandy, and her wonderful assistant Renee worked for a grueling day and a half and managed to spay and neuter no less than 16 animals (2 cats, 14 dogs – 9 girls and 7 boys) an amazing achievement and one they made look very, very easy! The event was hosted by our neighbours here who very kindly gave up their terrace for the day so the ladies and recovering dogs also had a picturesque view to look out on.

I am always amazed when I watch Sandy and Renee work at how they manage to do major surgery practically anywhere and are able to keep conditions sterile. As ever, they were fast, efficient and incredibly professional, even though they were performing major surgery on a pop up table! We were also kept busy, picking up, dropping off and tending to our recovering canine friends.

When we set up our Panama Dogs project, we did it with the intention of attempting to spay and neuter as many animals as we could to help keep the population manageable. We also try to help with medication and food when we can, but our priority is still on the spay clinics. The importance of this was highlighted twice for me through this clinic and it reminded me that spaying and neutering isn’t only about keeping the population down. Here in Puerto Lindo, many of the dogs suffer from a very nasty and very contagious sexually transmitted disease Transmissible Venereal Tumor and is caused by a virus. One of the male dogs Sandy put under the knife was suffering from this and had a very large tumor around the base of his penis. This particular dog has fathered at least 4 litters of pups that I know about in the past year which means he has also been spreading the disease to the mothers. The disease is treatable with a human cancer treatment, but this is expensive and can be fatal itself due to the severity of the drugs – some dogs (especially those who are malnourished and already weak) do not have the immunity to process such strong treatment. We have been speaking to the owner of the dog and we hope we may be able to get this treatment, but at the very least, he will no longer have the urge to spread it to the females of the village.

The second reminder came from a female dog who was fit, happy and appeared to be extremely healthy. The owners are incredibly responsible and were really keen to get her in to a clinic as soon as possible. When she was operating, Sandy found her uterus was so badly infected, it had swollen up to the size of 2 small fists lying next to each other. If she had not been operated on then, the pressure would have built up and her uterus would have exploded spreading the infection throughout her body. She would have needed emergency surgery and would almost certainly have died. There are normally 2 reasons a dog owner would want their female fixed – 1. no pups 2. no male dogs hanging around while she’s in heat. This particular operation raised a potential 3rd issue. While it’s relatively uncommon, once a female dog has started going into heat, she is susceptible to infections within her reproductive organs and if they go undiscovered, they are potentially life threatening. We were incredibly lucky we caught this in time and probably saved this life.

All in all, a very successful couple of days!

Sandy will return to Puerto Lindo in October and we are looking forward to arranging another clinic or 2. This time round we’d like to hire a small van so we can transport dogs to and from the clinics and reach more people. We’re always a little limited by just how far our post surgery ‘drunk’ dogs can totter!

Thank you so much to everyone who has donated to us so far. We really appreciate all of your support and are delighted by how much we have managed to do with it all. We are moving away from our gofundme page so that every penny that is donated to us can be spent directly on the dogs and we no longer have to pay the associated commissionfee. This also means you can contribute as much or as little as you like – no pre-set amounts! If you would like to contribute, but you don’t have a paypal account, please contact us through the website with the amount you would like to contribute and we can send you an invoice payable via debit or credit card. Our new website is http://www.panamadogrescue.wordpress.com

We look forward to telling you more about the dog population here on the North coast in the near future!

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