July 15, 2010

Ecuador video

What I did on the plane ride home from Ecuador (when I should have been sleeping!! :)

Ecuador photos updated

Recent Ecuador photos can be found aqui:


July 13, 2010

3 weeks later...

3 weeks and 367 animals later (I think that's the final count... I lost track around 30 so I have to check my notes).... I am sitting in the Colombia airport at the same cafe I was at when I blogged 3 weeks ago - it seems like it was just yesterday, but at the same time, it also seems like it was lifetimes ago.

This has been an long 3 weeks filled with blood (lots of blood), sweat (mental as well as physical) and tears (and I'm sure a lot more are coming once I get home and internalize everything that happened). In the meantime, photos are being updated aqui:


July 10, 2010

machismo es violencia

There is a billboard campaign in Ecuador promoting non-machismo male attitudes and anti-domestic violence. The slogan is "machismo es violencia" (Machismo is Violence) and there are catchy signs and billboards around Ibarra. Does it work? Probably not.

Today was mostly a good day in the clinic. Twelve surgeries (including 3 street dogs EL and I caught with a dart gun this morning) and an overall good, normal high-volume spay/neuter clinic feeling. Until the niños showed up.

One of the street dogs we caught (whom I nicknamed "Tank") was a big, 80+ pound Rottweiler mix that I darted as he was trying to rape a 20 pound female in heat. After surgery and recovery, we put him outside the clinic on a little abandoned side street, gave him an injection to reverse his sedation, pulled out his IV catheter and stood back. JS stood guard over him for a few hours to make sure he was OK, and after a snack of bread and cheese, we were happy to see him back on the street, minus 2 very large testicles!!

A few hours, JS and EL came into the clinic in a hot panic. A pack of children ran up to poor Tank (who was sleeping/passed out on the sidewalk) and attacked him with rocks. One fat little niño hit him square in the head and cut his ear open. Apparently JS and EL chased the little monsters, and the ring leader ran into a church. EL chased him inside and ripped him a new one, along with the pastor/church lady, who screamed at him for trying to hide out in a house of God.

Poor old Tank slept off the last bits of his anesthesia in the clinic bathroom, and we decided to keep him overnight. Considering what he had been through today, a nice shelter, pain medication and bread was the least we could do.

This was probably the most disturbing, depressing day of my entire time in Ecuador. Who the f$%& throws rocks at a sleeping, helpless dog? Seriously? I am speechless. What difference does all of this make if the children (not just the people, but the CHILDREN) have a f$%& it attitude towards animals and humanity. And you know what they say about children who are cruel towards animals, right?

Machismo es violencia. Too bad some of those machismos aren't even old enough to read.

July 6, 2010

When bad things happen to good people....

... I get very upset.

I went to Ambato Sunday night to visit my friend DA and her family. It was (supposed) to be a much needed, animal-drama free 3 days of rest and fun before heading back to Ibarra for the last week of the PAE/WV clinic. But the universe saw fit to have otherwise.

My last night in Ambato was supposed to be spent at a nice little restaurant and any number of local bars or clubs - a girls' night out on the town. After finishing dinner and dessert, DA got a hysterical phone call from her sister (whom we JUST saw not even 30 minutes before). She returned home to find her dogs had been poisoned in her front yard. One dog was still alive, but had escaped during the chaos when the family got home, and was running/seizing/vomiting in the field next door. I have been blessed/cursed with the ability to maintain some control during emergencies (then I freak out afterwards), so I ran (high heels and all) to fish vomiting Osita out of a drainage ditch. I jumped into the back of DA's car and we rushed her to the local vet.

DA's whole family showed up at the vet's office; it was horrible to see them upset about the dead dogs and dying Osita. The story I got (via translation) was that someone threw a few dead chickens (packed with a variety of rat poisons) over the fence into their yard. The dogs ate the chickens (feathers and all) and Osita (being the largest of the dogs) was the one that survived long enough to get to the vet.

After waiting at the clinic for almost 2 hours, Osita was stable and we were told to come back in the morning. I haven't felt so powerless and hopeless in a long time. There was nothing I could do except sit and wait. If there are 2 things I'm NOT good at, it's sitting and waiting. I'm much more of a get-out-there-and-get-dirty kind of gal. It was horrible. The next morning was a relief when I heard Osita was fine (I think the vet was up all night with her) and her prognosis was good.

I wish I had more time to spend in Ambato, but it was hard to be there and not be in a position to help. DA's sister is probably the nicest woman in the world; why someone would poison her dogs is beyond comprehension (*side note* NA told me that when she lived in the Caribbean, people would poison the dogs a night or 2 before breaking into the house... again. Why?) I left Ambato this morning feeling sick and depressed (the sleepless night before didn't help) - my nice, relaxing vacation in Ambato turned into a melodramatic 72 hours, complete with a toxicologic emergency experience and a twisted ankle... In Quito now, and back to Ibarra tonight. What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger (and gives you nightmares and ulcers in the process...)

July 2, 2010

Ehrlichia = 5.... Me = 0

There’s a reason I haven't updated my blog in almost a week.

Actually, there are several:

1) I’ve been exhausted every single night
2) I’ve been too depressed to take out my computer (or go to the Internet cafe)
3) I’ve been too busy having panic attacks and/or being generally agitated and/or impatient

We held surgery/clinic days on Sunday and Monday. Tuesday we were too depressed and drained to do surgery, so we traveled around Ibarra throwing ivermectin at random street dogs and visited the Mercado (market) to see the puppy/kitten booths. Wednesday we braved another day of surgery (very successfully) only to have a disaster later that night. Yesterday we slept in, did laundry, went to the internet, visited a local waterfall and made dinner at Gloria’s house (JA is an AMAZING cook!!)

I will spare the gory details, but let’s just say in almost 2 years of international veterinary clinics (including 3 previous clinics in Ecuador) I’ve never had such a frustrating, depressing, disheartening experience.

My new mantra/theme song for this trip:
I am powerless over Ehrlichia and any other bleeding disorder commonly seen in street dogs of Ibarra Ecuador.

Wish things were better here...