At the end of July, one of our vets Dr Kim Telford travelled to Samoa for her 13th volunteer veterinary trip with South Pacific Animal Welfare (SPAW) and in conjunction with Animal Protection Society Samoa. Each trip is comprised of veterinarians and nurses from all over the country (and sometimes world) and often the volunteers do not know each other prior to the trip. Groups are sent to islands/villages where locals do not have access to vet treatment for their pets – whether it is due to lack of transport or finances, or in some cases there is just no vet! This was the first trip that SPAW had made to Samoa for many years and it was very successful and rewarding.
On Saturday the group had a full day of travelling. After flying from Auckland and landing on the main Samoan island of Upolo, they then caught a ferry to the island of Savai’i where they were to stay and do their work. Sunday was a rest day as work is not permitted on Sundays. This allowed for some exploration and swimming!
Monday was the start of the hard work. The first village they visited was organised by the local minister who was a true animal lover. She organised for her villagers to bring their dogs and cats to her house which was our “clinic” for the day. This made for a very busy day with a total of 45 cats and dogs desexed and a few others were seen for health checks. Every animal seen is also vaccinated and treated for fleas and worms as they do not have access to these medications.
The Tuesday location was at the local MAF base. The team were able to desex another 28 cats and dogs and were treated to a local umu feast for lunch! Despite being the “cool season”, temperatures were in the 30’s and the team were very grateful to be kept hydrated with coconuts.
The village the team visited on Wednesday was on another part of the island so in the morning they had to pack up their suitcases. They went to a local resort in a dog free village (the chief had ruled that nobody was allowed to own a dog). This resort had a problem with overpopulation of cats. The backdrop was a beautiful tropical forest, what a place to be working! Unfortunately, the resort was not able to catch all the cats although three female cats and one male cat were able to be desexed, which will help to reduce the population and also significantly improve the health of these cats. The team then moved to another location up the road and locals were able to bring more dogs to be desexed. There was even some dental work done, removing broken teeth! That evening the team were treated to a warm ocean swim at the beautiful beachside fales where they stayed.
The next morning suitcases were packed again to move to the final accommodation for the trip. The next two days were spent in Salelologa which is a more populated area. The team were very tired by now but still managed to continue doing surgery to bring the total up to 151 animals desexed over the 5 days and was an additional 20 consults for small and large animals. Luckily the hotel where they were staying had a pool to allow them to soothe their tired feet at the end of the day.
With all the work over, it was time to travel home! In the early hours they caught the ferry back to Upolo. The committee from the Animal Protection Society provided lunch and some of the team had an interview with The Samoan Observer, the local newspaper. The week had passed by in a flash and it was time for the flight home. While these trips are hard work, hot and at times heart breaking, they are incredibly emotionally rewarding. Hopefully we are making are difference for the animals and their owners.
SPAW is a charity that organises trips to pacific islands that are in need of veterinary care. Initially the vet trips were to Tonga (there is no veterinary services available in Tonga), but over time as more people are willing to volunteer, SPAW has been able to increase the number of trips to Tonga and also extend to other islands/island groups such as Fiji, Samoa, Vava’u and Nomuku. They provide all treatment at no cost to the locals so that vet care is accessible for everyone. http://spaw.org.nz/Published by Google Drive–Report Abuse–Updated automatically every 5 minutes« Previous Next »