After an early wakeup call and sunrise,
we started our drive to Vanderbijlpark, an industrial city. There we arrived at CLAW Veterinary Clinic, a nonprofit clinic serving the local townships.
With the work of one veterinarian, a few technicians, and many volunteers, CLAW manages to treat hundreds of animals yearly that would otherwise receive no veterinary attention. A driver heads out every morning to poor communities and collects animals in need to bring back to the hospital. After the dog undergoes any medical treatment it requires, it is kept in the facilities until it is fully recovered. Returning the pet to come in later for a recheck is not possible as the owners do not own a means of transportation. After the animal is deemed fit, it is returned to its owner. All dogs, regardless of the reason they came in for, are spayed and neutered before release.
When we arrived, we hung around outside while the volunteers finished their morning duties. The yard was full of puppies and dogs playing, so we really didn’t mind waiting at all.
Here’s a view of the hospital from the front.
Once we went inside, we got a tour of the hospital. They had a recovery room, many kennels, a surgery, and a treatment room. I work in an animal hospital, so it was a big shock seeing the state of their equipment and rooms compared to my hospital’s, but when you provide medical attention for free, you can’t exactly spend big on nice syringes and fancy leashes.
Speaking of my hospital, I’m really grateful I’m able to work there because it offers me great clinical experience that I utilized while at CLAW. I knew how to hold animals for procedures and had a basic knowledge of medications and equipment. What we did for most of the day was help prepare animals for surgery and be on standby during surgery.
After the animal was sedated in the prep room, it was moved to surgery where the vet would perform what was needed, usually a spay or neuter. It was my first time watching a surgery, and I really enjoyed it. There was one dog where, when she cut her open, the vet discovered that she had to perform an abortion in addition to a spay. The puppies were already pretty well developed, maybe 3 or 4 inches long. However, it wasn’t possible to let her continue her pregnancy for fear of complication for her and her puppies. It’s also irresponsible to allow more puppies into a world where they’ll most likely suffer and die early. If you’re wondering how a pregnant canine womb looks like, imagine fat sausages. There are two uterine horns where the fetus develops, and when there are fetuses it really looks just like sausage links.
Another dog came in for a vaginal prolapse. This one I have pictures of.
All in all, this day was probably one of my favorites. It felt like we were really helping and this type of veterinary work felt much more rewarding.