February 23, 2010

REAL men love orphan cats

Right after posting my last entry, MP came to the internet "cafe" (aka... a conference room above a factory) with 2 soldiers and a colonel from the Bolivian army. They were following up on the cat they had dropped off early this morning - it was SO awesome to see 3 grown men in full body armor looking at pictures of the poor cat's butt on MP's laptop. They were very concerned and thanked us again and again (even though we didn't do anything yet). They also apparently have several dogs there who's owners died in the earthquake and were rescued from the streets by the Bolivian troops, and we were asked to visit the army base to examine a few of the sick-looking dogs.

After MC, JE and RB arrived, the translator told us there was a dog nearby that was in very bad shape and hadn't eaten for 4 or 5 days. Organization is not a strong quality in the SODOPRECA camp, but we managed to get everyone to Sonapi, unpacked, and get MC to examine the cat. After quite a bit of translation and discussion, we took the cat with us to the Bolivian camp to get permission for surgery.

On the way to Camp Charlie, we went to see the sick dog and found she had been hit in the face by something (again, French/Creole/Spanish/English translation) like a dog or car or rock, and had an unbelievable proptosed eyeball that was covered with a dusty crust of fur and blood. The owners lived in a small tent/rubble city at the top of a narrow, steep dirt road, which could not be driven on safely with the truck. Aside from the massive, horrific head wounds, the dog was in pretty decent Haitian street-dog condition. Since the cat was already in the crate, we told the owners we would return later to pick her up and take her back to Sonapi for surgery.

Driving anywhere in Haiti is like a video game/NASCAR feat: there are UN trucks, tanks, and soldiers everywhere, cars and motorbikes all over the place, guay-guays (Haitian buses) clunking along with about a dozen people hanging out the back, people wandering in and out of traffic selling any and everything, children just standing on the side of the road... the chaos is unreal. There are no Haitian police (as there is no Haitian government) so you can drive anyway you want, anywhere you want, and there are no consequences. As such, people run through lights, drive on the wrong side of the road, drive off road, and go as fast as they want.

After what seemed like a million years in the truck, we arrived at Camp Charlie. The Bolivian army was very excited to see us, and even MORE excited to see the cat! The army (human) doctor invited us to visit and use his clinic (and it's air conditioning and bathrooms!!!!). MC and JE discussed the cat's condition with 2nd Colonel Suarez, and told him that they would see what could be done for the cat, but couldn't make any promises. He was grateful for our help and took lots of pictures to show the orphanage what we were doing to help the cat. While RB and I prepped the cat for surgery, we had about a 1/2 dozen Bolivian army doctors and nurses file into the clinic. By the time MC got down to surgery, there were over a dozen people in the small clinic!

Unfortunately for the cat, it was no bueno :( The infection had spread up into his pelvis/abdomen via a COLONY of maggots - not one, not 10, but THOUSANDS of maggots. So many maggots, they couldn't move they were packed into the wound so tightly. Yea. Gross. I'm not usually a squeamish maggot person, but something about that situation just made me gag. There was no hope for the cat, and he was euthanized. He was then buried by the Bolivian army in a garden on camp.

How awesome is that? Not the euthanasia, but the Bolivian-feline love. In the midst of the hell that is Haiti, here was group of men from a continent known for its machismo attitude, burying an orphanage cat in their camp garden. I have never been to Bolivia, but I think I might like it there... if the country is as animal-friendly as their troops in Haiti, I think I might like it just fine.

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