This was a long but amazing day! My roommate and I slept through our alarms and woke up at 4:32am – we needed to be at the front of the hotel at 4:50am in order to drive to Placencia from San Ignacio (about 3 hours). We ran out of bed and luckily made it to the front by 4:50am. I ate a granola bar in the car, since we were not able to get breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant this early. Today was the first day at the spay/neuter clinic. We were in a large, open concrete building. When we arrived, there were already people lined up with their dogs waiting for general exams and surgery. Our large group of 20 students was divided into two groups of 10. One group was in pre-op and surgery while the other group was in physical exams and post-op. Today I was in surgery, and we performed procedures on 36 dogs! Six additional animals had TVT, which stands for transmissible venereal tumors – this is an STD in canines spread through blood. While TVT can be cured, the treatment takes a long time and is expensive, making it difficult for owners to treat their animals, so many of these TVT-positive animals were euthanized.
There were three tables set up for surgeries, and Reuben went around to each table performing pre-operation tasks, including putting the patients under anesthesia, shaving, and scrubbing. Dr. T went around to each table afterward and spayed or neutered the animal, then left the students to suture the dogs, with supervision from our TA and a few other volunteering vets. During the surgeries, I liked monitoring the animals for their pulse rate and respiration rate, but I also helped hold instruments and cut tissues for Dr. T. We were at the clinic from about 9:00am-3:00pm.
When we finished at the spay/neuter clinic, we all went to our hotel. Since we were such a large group, we unfortunately had to split up the group in different hotels. I stayed with five other girls at the Mariposa resort, which was a pretty nice and quiet hotel. We had dinner at 7:00pm and I had a cheeseburger.
TIP OF THE DAY: **Bring lots of snacks with you to Belize. There will be a few days where you will be waking up very early like today, such as when you have to be at the dairy cattle farm at 5:30am (when the cows get milked). These snacks are also nice to have for the plane ride and on days where you’re awake late at night and get a little hungry.**
For breakfast, my roommates and I paid 10 Belize and the owner of the hotel had laid out a small breakfast buffet of muffins, bagels, yogurt, fruit, and a few other options for us to have, which was really thoughtful. Today we went to a new spay/neuter clinic with Placencia Humane Society. We had fewer patients than yesterday, but I liked the amount of hands on work I was able to do. Since there were less patients, the day went a little slower, but half of the patients I worked with were puppies so I really enjoyed my time. I worked in recovery and physical exams. Some of my responsibilities of the day were to diagnose any possible illnesses (ring worm, intestinal parasites, etc.), obtain vitals, trim nails, clean ears, remove ticks, and give vaccines and dewormers.
The physical exams were pretty simple, but it was difficult to answer the clients’ questions, both because of the language barrier and because I didn’t know what medications we had available for the patients. Overall, this was a really educational experience and I had a lot of fun. In the future, if I take part in a spay/neuter clinic again, I will try to learn more about the medications and vaccinations available so that I am more prepared to answer owners’ questions.
So this is Chase, also known as Junior. If you can’t tell, I was absolutely in love with this puppy. He came in for his neuter, but he was too young so we removed his ticks, cleaned his ears, trimmed his nails, and gave him a vaccine. He was a good boy throughout all of his treatments. He was my favorite patient on this trip by a landslide <3
We were at this clinic from about 8:00am-4:00pm. For lunch, the Placencia Humane Society volunteers made us burritos. Between the clinic and dinner, my friends and I decided to go in the ocean for a little bit, even though it was already cold and dark (it was about 5:30pm and it is winter in Belize). For dinner we went to Tipsy Tuna, and I had the buffalo chicken sandwich which was really good and not very expensive. We were all exhausted from this clinic, so we didn’t do anything after dinner.
TIP OF THE DAY: **It may help to look up common illnesses in puppies before doing general exams. I worked as a foster for an animal shelter for about 7 years, and I had seen ringworm and roundworm (an internal parasite) in cats. I was able to recognize ringworm in a puppy I was examining, but I missed the intestinal parasite symptoms until a vet came over and asked me why the puppy’s stomach was so distended.**
This was our second and last free day! I had a bagel with cream cheese at the Mariposa resort while sitting near the ocean. Most of the group went snorkeling off of an island in Belize. My roommate and I did not really want to go snorkeling, as well as a few other students, so we had lunch with our TA, walked around town, and went to the beach. In the afternoon, we drove back to San Ignacio (another 3 hour drive). I went to Hode’s Place for a quick dinner when we returned to San Ignacio around 8:30pm.
TIP OF THE DAY: **If you do not go snorkeling on this free day, it would be a good idea to work on your presentation or studying for the exam, even for an hour. My roommate and I worked on our presentation for about an hour before spending time with our TA and friends, but even this one short hour was helpful in the long run.**