ByJulia Juneau – Vets To Go Client Services Team Member
I was thrilled to find out that Vets To Go was encouraging their employees to sign up to take on shifts with the Alberta Spay and Neuter Task Force as part of their Employee Giveback Program, which gives team members the chance to take paid days off to volunteer with animal-related charities. I had been looking into these clinics for a while so the timing was perfect and I have a huge passion for animal rescue and helping in whatever way I can to decrease the homeless dog population. Although the local people own many of the dogs and cats coming in for surgery, many are strays and the opportunity to be spayed or neutered, given vaccinations and deworming medication doesn’t come along too often for them. Knowing my mom shares the same passions I do, I told her about the clinic and she signed up right away. Weeks later, with my mom and some breakfast in tow, we were off to Maskwacis!
Upon entering the clinic, I was just amazed at the set-up the volunteers had done two nights before I arrived. Rows and rows of excited and nervous animals just waiting for their turn. The first step was taking them all out for a quick bathroom break, followed by breakfast for the pets waiting to return to their owners and then prepare the next group for surgery. I finally found my station and was to be part of the post-operation recovery group where I met our lead technician and was given instructions on my job. It wasn’t long before our first set of dogs came over, looking sleepy and ready to be woken up after their procedure. Our jobs included removal of the breathing tubes, keeping the animals warm with heated blankets and lots of snuggles, cleaning up any wounds, taking frequent temperatures and then spraying a “liquid” bandage over the wound to prevent any future infection. I was lucky to be put into a group with volunteers who had been doing this for years, so there was no shortage of guidance and help.
Finally, the veterinarians took a well-earned lunch break to quickly chow down some delicious food made by the kitchen team. By this time I would guess that almost 50-60 surgeries were already complete and about the same number would follow after lunch. By the time the day was done there was over 100 successful surgeries performed and a lot of tired volunteers ready to pack up and head out. At this time many of the owners began showing up, excited to pick up their drowsy pets. After some care instructions were given by the discharge technician group, these animals were free to go home – now safe from disease, worms, and unwanted pregnancy. What a success!
A neat part of my day was meeting two young local girls who had a big interest in animal welfare. They saw the station of recovering puppies and quickly found their way over and began asking questions. They were interested in absolutely everything – from the surgery to the recovery, from the different coloured flags we use to mark different kennels to learning why we should give our animals vaccines. Any chance to help educate the youth about animal ownership is one you should take, so I was happy to answer whatever I could.
At the end of the day, I was so happy to have been a part of this amazing crew of people. So many people from all over Alberta, from veterinarians to technicians to people who just loved animals donating their valuable time to something they believe in. I ended up learning a lot myself – a big one was that a lot of these animals get “dropped” off on the outskirts of these reserves and the people who live nearby are now set with the task of raising an animal they didn’t ask for. This poses a huge challenge as surgery can get quite expensive and veterinarians are few and far between outside of the city and that is why the Alberta Spay and Neuter Task Force serves such a great purpose.
I came back from this clinic excited and ready for another. I would encourage everyone who shares the same passion as I do for animals to look this group up and see what you can do to help. Whether it is donating your time or a donation of money, every little bit helps these clinics continue running.
The Alberta Spay Neuter Task Force (ASNTF) is a registered charity that provides proactive, community-based pet wellness clinics for communities that are experiencing pet overpopulation issues in order to assist with their approach to improve the health and well-being of the dogs and cats in the community and to reduce human health issues that have resulted from pet overpopulation. Many communities do not have the resources that we have in our cities to assist with the care of their animals. The problem of pet overpopulation exists all over the world!