by Sarah Hepting
I have done a bit of volunteer work for the PEACE organization’s free spay and neuter clinics here in Puerto Vallarta. This is a mobile clinic that sets up at various locations (sometimes it is person’s house, sometimes a business, sometimes a government building, etc.).
The conditions are different every time and one of the requirements of the staff and volunteers is that they be flexible in adapting to the conditions. One such challenge at a clinic I attended, we had to listen to faint heartbeats with a drum class next door. Many times the vets have to wear headlamps when the light is dim. Once they worked in a burned out building with no running water.
Usually there are 3 veterinarians and some other paid staff members to help with pre-surgery prep and post op care. There are handlers and intake workers who fill out forms and make sure the animals are documented throughout the procedures. It is all very professionally done.
Volunteers are trained and fill in with whatever they are qualified and comfortable in doing. Those who do not really enjoy the medical aspect of these clinics can help with notifying the neighbors of the clinic with posters, doing laundry, soliciting lunches for the doctors and other jobs, so you don’t have to be involved in the nuts and bolts of the spay and neutering clinic itself to help out.
My favorite job was doing the post op care. We would monitor the cats and dogs after surgery, keeping records of their temperatures, respiration and heart rate and generally keeping an eye out for problems before the animals woke up from the anesthesia. We administered wormer and flea and tick medications as well. We worked under the supervision of Jesus, who was responsible for the animals at this stage.
The clinic operates on about 25 animals in a day and generally the clinics are held all day from Wednesday to Friday plus half a day on Saturday. There is no charge for any of the procedures or medications and it is so beautiful to see the large numbers of people who gratefully bring in the animals they cherish to be helped to have a better life. No one likes to live with the heartache of having to turn a blind eye to an unwanted animal and without birth control such as PEACE offers, there is the possibility of many unwanted animals on the streets here.
During the summer, PEACE has also been running at the clinic sites a classroom that teaches the kids about caring for animals and instills in them sensitivity through art projects. At the clinic I attended there was a class where the kids were making paper mache animals over the course of several days. With simple donated supplies, the kids all had a great time and it was fun to watch them create their animals with paper, balloons and paste.
The people involved with the PEACE spay and neuter clinic are very sincere and great fun to work with. Visiting the different Vallarta neighborhoods and meeting the people and animals is always a rewarding experience. Vivid images always linger in my head after spending a day working at one of these clinics. It is a great way to expand your sense of being a part of this city.
The clinics need funding. PEACE’s “Ayuda a los Animales” program can always use financial and personal help.
To volunteer or for specific directions to clinics: firstname.lastname@example.org
PEACE is a registered U.S. nonprofit with 501(c)(3) status. This allows PEACE to issue tax deductible receipts for donations made in the US. PEACE partners with Tides Canada (www.tidescanada.org). This allows Canadian donations to be tax deductible. PEACE is a registered Civil Association in Mexico.
Donations are tax deductible.