When I left home over a week ago for my first serious vacation in three years, I was certain I wouldn’t venture far from the poolside lounge chair. Weather and work had left me craving a tropical getaway to recharge. When we checked into our resort in Cabo San Lucas, I wasn’t disappointed……
What I didn’t expect, however, was to start thinking about veterinary medicine and how it’s practiced in Mexico…..but that’s just what happened. It turns out I didn’t miss my job, but I did miss work. After a quick email to the Los Cabos Humane Society, I was informed that they would be holding a Spay/Neuter clinic for two days this week and I would be welcome to come observe. LCHS was having two veterinarians from the Give Some Life Foundation come in to perform the surgeries.
In my life, I really haven’t been too far from home, save a couple of trips, and the idea of being picked up by a stranger and driven across town to the shelter was unnerving. Would anyone speak English? How long would I be gone? Would I have cell service? Though my wife didn’t stop worrying until I returned, I never looked back. We picked up the GSL Doctors, MVZ Joaquin Villasenor and MVZ Rebeca Serrano and headed to the shelter.
I didn’t know what to expect or if I could help (or what they might need help with). The two Doctors went right to work and were joined in surgery by a recent graduate, MVZ Eriksen Beccera. They referred to their approach as the “Efficient Spay Neuter Technique,” and boy was it…… In five minutes, I remembered what I like least about veterinary practice as I know it – all of the waste. Wasted time, wasted supplies, wasted resources. These people wasted nothing.
While the surgeons worked, the Shelter Doctor, MVZ Alan Ortiz, supervised induction, monitored patients, and increased anesthetic when needed. A team of assistants and veterinary students restrained patients for injections, transported them to and from surgery, and helped monitor their recovery. In the USA, there is always someone who is really running things behind the scenes, and it was no different here. Though she couldn’t speak any English, I found something in common quickly with Ceci, a shelter staff member, as she ran around the room trying to put only the needles in the sharps box before her boss could put the syringes in as well.
In just over nine hours of surgery, this group spayed or neutered 84 pets (mostly dogs), all free to residents of the Los Cabos area, and funded solely by donation. They did it without surgery tables, without proper lighting, and without gas anesthesia. The work was grueling. Barely inside (the group performed surgery the previous week on an outdoor basketball court), the lack of air conditioning, little breeze and stifling heat for 10 hours with very little sitting made me reflect on all the luxuries we take for granted. And my job was only to clean all the surgery instruments over and over…… I could see in the eyes of the team that it took an immense amount of mental focus to keep going without any idea when the demand would end, but I could also see a dedication to the cause they had given so much of their time for.
In short, my experience here did recharged me……it recharged my interest in the kind of medicine that can reach patients who may not otherwise get it. It left me ashamed of how we waste at home, but committed to addressing that problem. It left me in awe of these people who spend day in and day out dedicated to fighting a problem they know won’t be easy to solve, do so in the most challenging of conditions, AND do so on a volunteer basis. It also reminded me that no matter where we go, we can be reminded of how small the world really is and what we have in common. When one of the Doctors heard where I was from, he said he’d spent three years of his early training on a small town family owned dairy in Oregon. That dairy is in my hometown.
To help support Los Cabos Humane Society’s permanent no cost Spay/Neuter and education program, go to www.humanesocietycabo.com
To help support the Give Some Life Foundation’s efforts in the Baja region of Mexico, go to www.givesomelife.org
Flagging notifies the Veterinary Community webmaster of inappropriate content. Please flag any messages that violate the Terms of Service or Rules of Engagement. Please include a short explanation why you're flagging this message. Thank you!
Your First Name (optional)
Email Addresses (comma separated)
Message to Friends (optional)
Are you human?
Or, you can forward this blog with your own email application.