SPAY + NEUTER CLINICS
When we began rescue work in 2003 we really couldn’t see past the dogs themselves. Our first thought was to take the unwanted dogs out as quickly as possible. By our third year we realized that rescue was only part of the solution. We had always spayed or neutered any dog over five months that came into our care but that was not enough. The dogs needed to be spayed and neutered in their own communities if a real impact on dog overpopulation was to be made.
It took us another ten years before we were able to afford our own clinic though. The wait was frustrating but raising money as a grass root, independent organization took time. I had never wanted to incorporate because I didn’t want the dogs to become a business but that meant we didn’t qualify for grants and couldn’t offer tax receipts for large donations. Anything we did meant raising the money ourselves but we realized it would be irresponsible for us not to do so.
The first clinic was in November 2013 and cost $15,000. Dr. Jouppi and his team from Sudbury were the first vets to visit Attawapiskat as far as I know. Thirty dogs were spayed or neutered, vaccinated, given their rabies shot and treated for parasites. This clinic was a learning experience for us as we discovered many people in the community didn’t understand what spaying and neutering were and they were reluctant to trust whatever it was we were doing. Still, a great deal was accomplished and it was only the beginning.
The second Attawapiskat clinic was in August 2014 at a cost of $8,000. Two pilots (Ron Brent and Kevin Thompson) volunteered to fly the vet team north if we paid a portion of the fuel costs. This reduced the transportation budget considerably. The Moosonee Puppy Rescue logo was displayed on the side of their planes.
We purchased two portable anesthesia machines at a cost of $3,600 as the start of accumulating our own equipment for use in future clinics.
The vet team operated from two surgical tables and fifty-seven dogs were spayed or neutered, vaccinated, given their rabies shot, treated for parasites and micro-chipped.
Both pilots ended up assisting with surgeries and Scott Miller from Health Canada provided accommodation for the team as well as helping to collect the dogs for surgery.
The third clinic was in June of 2015 and the cost was $6,000. Dundas West Animal Hospital managed to get many of the meds donated which reduced the costs once again.
Three planes flew north this time and I must admit to feeling very emotional as I watched them line up for takeoff knowing they were carrying a vet team with meds and supplies to treat the dogs of Attawapiskat. Ron Brent, Mark Auerman and Robb Handy were the pilots and Dr. Lane, Dr. Coote and Laura McNally made up the vet team. Margot Auerman was the clinic coordinator.
Dr. Lane and Dr. Coote alternated surgeries from one table yet still managed to spay or neuter fifty dogs. Each one was also vaccinated, given their rabies shot, treated for parasites and micro-chipped.
This was our best clinic to date and the response and interaction from the community was greater than ever before. A new level of understanding and trust was accomplished. Once again the pilots pitched in where needed and Scott Miller from Health Canada volunteered his time and efforts.
Two injured dogs were brought out with the team along with a small dog needing a new home. Two pups came out as well and the rescue of dogs on top of the medical work done felt like icing on the cake.
Each clinic requires supplies such as collars, leads, dog food, blankets, towels garbage bags, bug repellant, bleach and crates to be sent up in advance. In addition we send up close to one thousand dollars’ worth of food for the team and general meds and surgical supplies for the dogs. The vet team travels with vaccinations and the anesthesia machines.
Each clinic is truly a heroic effort and we thank all who participate and donate each year.