Along the Natchez Trace

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Day At The Clinic

The Amigos of Lo de Marcos consist of both year-round and seasonal folks who live here.  While the majority of the members are either Canadian or from the USA, there are also Mexican townsfolk who belong.  As I understand it, there are several subcommittees, each devoted to specific needs....  like teaching English as a second language in the schools, repairing the roof on the school or repainting it, or helping folks grow their own veggies.  But the one committee that caught my attention was the group who support the sterilization of dogs and cats in the town.  

They arrange for a team of veterinarians to come several times a year, sponsoring a full day clinic for pets to be spayed or neutered.  While the vets bring most of their medical tools, the Amigos provide everything from thermometers to cleaning agents....  from the razors that shave the area to be worked on to the flea and tick meds after the surgery.  

I had heard about the clinic last month and asked one of the workers if they needed more volunteers and they did.  The clinic was held again today, in the very same library I wrote about a couple of days ago.  Bill & I arrived at 8:30...  just as the first dogs and cats were being registered.

The rooms were being readied....
On the left is the surgical suite...  the vets bring the operating tables as well as their surgical tools.  The upper right is the recovery room....  tables placed end to end...  2 rows of them...  with everything from thermometers to blankets...  there is enough room from about 4 cats or 2 medium dogs on each side of the room.  At the lower right is the "reception" area...  those women take all the information needed for each animal.

One room off to the right side is the holding area for the "patient".....
 These 2 puppies, brother and sister, were quite content to take a nap before their turn came.  The Amigos will provide cages and crates if the owner doesn't have them.

And...  the Prep Room...
Each critter is brought from the holding room into this room...  to be weighed and have their temperature taken.  They are also given their pre-op shot here.  When it is their turn, they will be asleep and carried into the surgery suite.

There isn't any fancy autoclave here...
 But here's Nancy...  she worked the morning shift washing and sterilizing scissors, hooks, and any other utensil the vets had used.  It was a 3 step process...  first the tool went into the "dirty water" bath...  hydrogen peroxide/water solution....  to get off any caked on debris.  Then into the pan in the sink...  another sterilization solution...  gloves necessary....  and scrubbed with a stiff bristled brush... or even a softer bristled toothbrush...  to make sure it was clean clear down to the metal.  Tweezers, with their gripping ridges are checked carefully.  The clean utensil is then placed into another pan of sterilization liquid.  That pan is in front of the vet so he can just take forceps to retrieve what he wants...

 This cat is being spayed...  she's been shaved, cleaned, had antiseptic applied...  the whole nine yards...  and as you can see, there aren't any straps to hold her in place, but each leg has been tied with string so the vet can have access to the right areas.
I think she's tied more to keep her in position rather than as a restraint as she is totally out of it during the entire process.

 This cat (probably the same one as above) is now in recovery.  After her temp and pulse have been checked, she'll be kept warm to maintain her body temperature.  My job was to provide the heat...  socks filled with rice, then microwaved for a minute or so....  they're flexible and contour to the animal's body.  They provide much needed heat exactly where it's needed the most.  So I spent my time making sure there were rice bags available as soon as a critter came out of surgery.
One other thing...  while the critter was still out, if all was going well, the recovery nurse would also check for ticks and fleas...  they'd clean ears for ear mites...  they'd even clip toenails.  Under other circumstances, I guess you could say it was a day spa for pets.  
 We'd met Don on our Monday walks and he's who I'd talked to about volunteering.  Don says he's a floater...  but in truth...  he does a bit of everything, making sure whole process is running smoothly.  

 Gerard is talking to and making over this kitty who would have preferred to sleep all afternoon.

 With the 2 veterinarians operating and their 2 assistants prepping and helping, they sterilized 22 cats and dogs today... I think it was 12 cats and 10 dogs.  They start with the small cats...  work through the males, then the females...  then on to the small dogs, male first, then larger and females.  Without going into all the details, spaying a female is much more invasive and takes much longer than the males.

 All the workers are volunteers....  some with prior training...  some even with nursing experience...  but several have learned it all right on the job.
I didn't get a photo of Bill and his job....  he stayed out back of the building, washing down and cleaning up any crate/cage that needed it.  So while he had a very unglamorous job, it was also a necessary one, and was appreciated.

 This guy, Rob, is instrumental in the area...  volunteering in several towns at several different clinics, in having dogs and cats sterilized.  He's been doing this for nearly 12 years now...  and told us all kinds of stories about his experiences.

 The clinic is free..  well advertised in advance.  Reservations are required due to the time and equipment needs.  The clinic starts at 8:00 (drop off pets), the vets arrive around 9:00....  they work pretty much straight through until done.  One local lady brought delicious tuna sandwiches for everyone and I think most workers took at least a few minutes around noon to grab a bite.  When the pets were dropped off, the owner was given a time to pick them up.  Of course the pet would still be groggy and require watching for the next day or so, but crates were loaned out if needed.

I have to tell you about my friend Memo...
He brought his kitten, Ginger, in to be spayed.  I kept watching for her to be brought in for her surgery.  Hummm...  the kitty they brought in looks like her...  but, nope, they're gonna neuter...  I ask for the name on the sheet (paperwork is meticulous here...  the papers stay with the critter all the way from start to finish)...  Uh Oh...  that's Ginger.  We all bust out laughing...  can hardly wait until Memo comes in to collect her him.  

When Bill and I left it was nearly 4 pm...  all the critters were done, the vets were packed up and ready to head out.  Most of the cleanup had been done.  We were done for the day,  They'll be a few critters that might have the "feel-bads" for a few days, but there'll be a few less puppies and kittens to deal with in town now.

That's All For Today!


  1. So great that you're able to participate. What exceptional services. I like this town!

  2. Sounds like a very productive day you had and all for a good cause.

  3. I've heard of this elsewhere. Good for you for joining in. It's sooo necessary.

  4. What an interesting post and a well needed service. Looks like a very efficient and caring facility. Good job.

  5. What an awesome happening!!! It made me very sad to see all the starving dogs in Alamos, an American lady was trying to start a spay and neuter clinic there too.

  6. That's quite the production line going there.

  7. That is awesome! FCCO used to use water balloons, just latex gloves filled with water, like a water balloon and microwaved, dropped into a foam ice chest to say warm. They're more sterile than rice socks. (keep them from the claws however). As for the tie outs on females, one vet used those small dry erase boards you write on with a sharpee, then can erase. Four holes, tie downs through each, can be easily cleaned and the cat prepped and handed off to surgery on the board. Makes for fast flow. she'd do 100 cats herself in one day, under six minute spays. If it makes Bill feel any better, I often got the cage cleaning station and loved it.

    1. the FCCO no longer does mobile clinics, which is a shame. One must drive clear to Portland with cats now, to use them. Wish we had such volunteer clinics here.

    2. Makes me so excited to see this Sharon and that you were involved. Can hardly contain my enthusiasm!

  8. This is such a wonderful thing they are doing...keep that population down!!! And thank you two for volunteering with them.

  9. You sure had a very interesting day and met a lot of new people I imagine.

  10. Thanks for taking us through the process, which I found very interesting. I hope Memo gets over the sex-change performed on the cat LOL