Habarana Part 2
Trip Start Mar 29, 2007
13Trip End Apr 26, 2007
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On Friday morning 7 of us squeezed our way into the MEF van and headed off to Habarana, the temperature was rising over the trip and as the only air conditioning the MEF has are by opening the windows we were melting when we arrived at the local hotel we were staying at. I was completely amazed that my room had air conditioning and stayed it in more that was strictly necessary for a few days!
We then went up to the village (a few KM drive on the worst road in Sri Lanka for potholes) to check everyone was ready only to find that the villagers had made 2 banners in Sinhla advertising the clinic and mentioning Dogstar (I will upload the photos here when I get home) I was touched by such a lovely gesture especially the first banner that said something like "every living thing deserves care"
By now the temperature was over 38 degrees and by the time I had made the sort walk to the building we were using to help fix the banners I was hotter than I could ever remember (little did I know how hot the next day would be) The building is used a s a local nursery and is quite typical of local community buildings in that it has a roof, low level walls and no windows. This was were the Vets would be operating the next morning as the locals were lending us tables and we had brought plastic sheeting to cover them in.
After a quick drive up and down the village reminding everyone that the clinic was still on we went back to the hotel for cold showers, cold beers and an early night
The next morning I awoke early and after drinking tea outside my room and talking to the hotel owner about his dog (and asking him to bring her to the clinic!) The group of 12 from the university arrived (Vets and final year students) after a big group breakfast of rice and curry we headed off en masse to set up
The vets set to work with military precision and within 15 minutes had all there equipment in place and 3 operating tables ready , Dr Anranga was standing by to register all arrivals and record details of treatment and all we needed was some animals. By now I was worried no one would turn up and was standing out on the road scanning the road for anyone. After a few minutes a small figure in the distance appeared with a dog on a bit of string and then suddenly from all angles people arrived with animals shoved in boxes, tucked under arms, on the back of bikes and tractors, more than one cat arrived in a empty flour sack and dogs came tied up with anything there owners could find. As I watched people filing up to registration and watched vets give the first injections I was suddenly over come with emotion and sobbed quietly on the roadside
However as I was meant to working in the recovery section I had to pull myself together and get into gear before the first 3 animals came out of surgery. Now when I say recovery I have to be honest and say our recovery area was (out of total necessity) sheets of news paper laid in the shade of the building. Del and I were to monitor all the animals and assist the vets with giving rabies injections, flea treatments and collars for all the dogs ( something that every owner was delighted with ) within 20 minutes our first 3 patents arrived to recovery ( 2 cats and a puppy ) and then next few hours passed in a blur of treatments ( I did pop inside to witness some operations as well which to be honest made me glad I had not had a big breakfast ) and generally running about doing what ever was needed in the 40 degree heat ( I thought some one was going to have to lay me down and put me on a drip at one point )
By midday our last few animals were going into surgery when sadly one of the vets announced that the female dog he was operating on had a massive tumor on her womb. He called the owners over and explained what he had found and attempted to revive her ( with a view to her being transferred to the university hospital for further treatment paid for by Dogstar ) however sadly she never woke up and passed away peacefully on the operating table about 10 minutes later. The vets arranged to take her back with them for a post mortem with the owner's permission and although it was a very sad end to our first clinic I was still delighted when the Dogstar Vet announced that we had treated 40 animals and the smiling faces of the owners made everything worthwhile (even the sunburned arms I had managed to get)
As the animals came round and were passed fit to be collected by the owners some local boys arrived with a wheel barrow to give free lifts to dogs with wobbly legs! Most cats went home in boxes (and a few in flour sacks!) and the MEF van gave lifts to families who had traveled the furthest
Experiencing our first mobile clinic first hand has been very useful for me; as a result I am far more aware of what items Dogstar needs in order to improve the services we offer. One of the most urgent items we need are tents for recovery and also pre op waiting areas. So if anyone knows where I can buy cheap easy to assemble (pop up) marquee type tents please let me know, or equally if anyone knows of any company that may have 2nd hand ones they might donate (we are not proud) then we would love to hear from you
Already we are planning our next clinic which will be local to our base at The Millennium Elephant Foundation in Kegalle. The local temple dogs are now old enough to be neutered ( including the little bugger that bit me ) so in May Dogstar will provide neutering , rabies and DHL vaccinations as required ( plus hopefully collars ) as well as discussing some regular donations of food with the Monk. We also have "adopted" Posa the cat at the local restaurant and her 2 kittens ( Arrack and Coke ) and they are currently being feed by donated food from us (and some tasty scraps from the kitchen) chef has agreed they can live there if they work for him keeping his kitchen free of rats or mice! They are now on our list and will be neutered when they are old enough (and when mum has recovered from giving birth ) they will also be vaccinated and given medial care as required
I was at the Temple yesterday and my little biting friend was still running around healthily (good news for me!) and now seems to want to be my very best pal. It seems she gets jealous if the other dogs get more attention that her so I have to be careful in which order I pet them (difficult when 5 dogs are trying to get into your lap in one go) again I have taken some photos of them (including 2 of the original Dogstar puppies from last year) and will post them when I get home. Yesterday I noticed a new puppy there in very poor condition and the Dogstar Vet is attending with me this afternoon to check her out (and look for her littermates and mum)
As I am leaving tomorrow evening I really should start thinking about packing at some point but as ever I am sure I will leave it to the last minute!