Day 5: 6/15 – Lab Day
We were supposed to start this day off with a lecture on animal health and reproduction, however, Dr. T had gotten a farm call. Luckily, we were able to go along with him for any calls that he gets, as a big part of being a wildlife vet is to be available at all times to go to house calls and be able to perform surgeries and help with emergencies when needed. We got to see our first horse castrations, as two stallions needed to have castrations done at this one home, and learned how to perform physicals. I am glad that I have never been bothered by blood and guts before, because seeing this for the first time up close and personal was gruesome and awesome. Dr. T uses ketamine and a mix of an opiate to sedate the animal for the surgery, and then they are given shots of antibiotic, vitamins, and a pain killer after the surgery is done. Later, we visited the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) to observe how they do blood smears and study fecal samples from different farms to detect diseases such as rabies. This was cool to see since this is a side of the animal industry that most people don’t get to see or even think about, as these are the people detecting all signs of outbreaks all over the country.
Day 6: 6/16 – Cattle Ranch
After driving to a little farm in the area of Barton Creek, we had to give dewormer and vitamins to a few different cattle. These cattle were Holsteins mixed with jerseys, so they were very cute and calm tempered. Giving them shots is easy, due to how large they are and how large the “V” part of the neck it to give the intramuscular shots in their necks. After, Dr. T. performed a spay on a mother dog, and the rest of us gave dewormer shots to her little puppies. Later, we traveled to a different area where we dewormed goats. Here we also had our first experience with a bot fly! The larvae was popped out of the goat’s neck and then was full of puss, which was disgusting but also cool to see since I have been interested in bot flies for years. We all had a fun time here working with the goats and eating the fresh oranges that Dr. T picked off of a tree there.
Day 7: 6/17 – Horse Day
This day was definitely my favorite day so far on this entire trip. We went to a horse farm, Met Farm, which is owned by a large family who all run the place together. Here we practiced our clinical sheet skills with more horses, taking their temperatures, weights, heights, respiratory rates, and heart rates. I’m glad we get so much experience working hands on with animals, and especially horses, since they are such good-tempered and beautiful animals. After filling out our clinical sheets on these horses, the horses got saddled up for all of us to ride them. I was able to ride the horse that I had wanted to, a large white female, and we rode off into the forest up the mountain. The ride was peaceful and thrilling, and a wonderful way to view all of the different nature here compared to the Savannah forests that we were in during the last class. At the end of the ride a few of us got the chance to go fast, instead of walking back with the group. Our horses followed suit with our guide, and ran through the forest paths all the way back down to the sables. This was the fastest I have ever rode on a horse, and the experience was exhilarating. After, Dr. T spayed two of dogs at the farm, and then brought us to this gorgeous waterfall that we all swam in. The area was breathtaking and I was so happy to really take in and appreciate the beauty of the forests and natural landforms in the country.
Day 8: 6/18 – Community Clinic
This Saturday we all went with Dr. T and Reuben to work and volunteer at a local spay and neuter clinic. This clinic is free to the public, where people can either choose to only get their animals checked up and given vitamins and dewormers, or they can also get their animal spayed or neutered. This clinic was similar to the rabies one we had done during the last course, however, this was in a much bigger town and done in a nicer and larger community building. There were different stations for us to be placed at and rotated at, one where we talked to the people and got their information, one where we did the checkups and shots, another where we assisted Dr. T with the surgeries, and the last being the recovery station where we stayed with the dogs and monitored them until the drugs wore off. I finally got to assist Dr. T with a dog neuter, as so far we have only seen spays, which was interesting so see how it differed from the horse castration. This clinic was much better than the other as the people here seemed to care much more about their animals. At the last rabies clinic, people would drag their dogs in on tight chains and clearly did not view them as pets. At this clinic, is was relieving to see people loving their animals and caring for their wellbeing. Seeing this gave me hope for the animals in this country and other similar countries, where the people are starting to change their views on dogs and wildlife in general.
Day 9: 6/19 – Free day/iguanas
This Sunday was spent as another free day. Most of us relaxed for a large part of the day, some went swimming, and others (including myself) took a needed nap. Later in the day we all went to visit the Green Iguana Conservation Project. The admission price wasn’t bad and all of the profits go toward helping conserve and rehabilitate these iguanas. When we stepped inside the enclosure the iguanas were everywhere, and were all so used to attention from humans that they seemed to enjoy being touched and held by us. This was definitely the cutest encounter I’ve had with reptiles before, as my snake doesn’t show much happiness with any interaction.