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Feb 4, 2006
I took the old jeep out early
drove in the rain on a slippery muddy road to the jobsite

Coffee hot from the thermos steamed the windshield a little
as the soundlessness of fog enveloped me
and the cool green mist fell around me
and there you stood
legs surprisingly long - tall and straight you stood
your coat damp and your golden eyes meeting
(you too were surprised – expecting to be apprised of threats by the noise they’d make?) 
Without menace or fear you stood in the road
facing a human creature in a metal cage

To immortalize the moment I groped on the seat beside me for the camera,
looked up again
and you were gone
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Posted: Feb 4, 2006 8:16pm
Feb 4, 2006
It's so good to read positive news; this arrived in my mailbox recently and i thought to pass it on.


"Hi Everyone:

I received this from Jennifer Semchuk, a friend of the animals, and thought it was just too heartwarming to pass by. Enjoy.




VIDAS (International Veterinarians Dedicated to Animal Health) is a group comprising veterinary students, veterinarians, and other animal-loving volunteers.  Each year, they travel to the province of Quintana Roo, Mexico, to provide free veterinary care in an effort to fight pet overpopulation. 

This summer, hauling a suitcase full of syringes and IV tubing donated by NAIT’s Animal Health Technology, I flew to Cancun to see if I could help.

The villagers in Tulum begin arriving with their pets shortly after 8:00 a.m.  At first, each dog is unique and we can easily memorize its face, but by mid-morning, the 20 or 30 animals on site have blurred into the quintessential Mexican hound:  half lab and half who-knows-what.  The cats are suspicious and hostile, and we don’t try to befriend them.  On the other hand, a couple of feral kittens have arrived, and we take turns wrapping them tightly in blankets and feeding them cat food on the tip of one wary finger.  Most of the animals are calm as they enter the compound, as sanguine and laid-back as their Mexican owners. For the most part, these pets are healthy and happy and well treated.  The occasional one is timid, and only one, Consuela, delicately lifts a lip to show some teeth as we approach.

Most owners aren’t interested in sterilization—they want their pets vaccinated, de-loused, de-ticked, and could we please cut their nails and give them a bath as well.  Faced with these requests, the women at the reception table launch into action, firing off a volley of photos and stats and testimonials about venereal disease, starvation, and abandonment.  Five minutes later, 80% of the arrivals meekly change their minds and opt for spaying or neutering.  Our shop is open for business.

Kelly, a vet tech from Connecticut, has been involved with VIDAS for 2 years.  In this short time, she’s seen progress—pets back for continued vaccine treatments; people using collars and leashes on their dogs.  “Treating the animals is only one part of our program, “ she says.  “Educating the people, especially the children, is the other, more enduring component.”

My job is to comfort the animals as they regain consciousness in the recovery room.  Vet techs carry in dog after dog and lay them gently on the blanket-covered concrete floor.  “Here, press this, it’s bleeding a little, and keep flicking a finger at his paws—he needs to wake up.”  Cats are brought in from surgery and placed like commas on a long line of couch cushions pushed against the wall.  When the cats begin to stir, we kennel them because most of them quickly erupt into a frenzy of fangs and claws.  The dogs, on the other hand, are happy to lie in the fan-cooled room and be caressed and crooned to.  While they’re recovering, we remove ear ticks and assess whether or not their fleas are bad enough to require treatment.  One puppy’s ticks are so bad, we have to sedate her—she’s covered with them; her ears look like the insides of rotten pomegranates.  After spending an hour and a half removing parasites from her little body, we let Serena wake slowly.  Then we give her a bath and flea treatment and watch her canter gaily ‘round the yard.

Three children arrive with Negra, a three-month old puppy who was hit by a car and is limping.  We convince them to leave her with us overnight.  She needs assessment, treatment, and rest.  We have no x-ray, but one of the vets is certain she has a broken leg.  It’s splinted; she spends a quiet evening in her kennel; the next day, wiggling with joy in the arms of her young keepers, she goes home. 

Two puppies are brought in, screaming and thrashing about in their kennel.  The diagnosis?  Distemper.  A few hours later, these unfortunates are euthanized.  Vets and volunteers, seasoned as some are, are tight-lipped and unhappy; this devastating disease is something they rarely see.

A young woman leaves her two chihuahuas for sterilization and adoption, sobbing over the shoulder of a friend who’s holding onto her while she says her goodbyes.  One of the American vet techs has already decided to take them home with her to Delaware.

One of the vets waves me over—a dog lying on the grass at her feet has venereal disease.  “I want you to see this.”  I try, unsuccessfully, to convince Elvira to stand so that I can photograph the diseased vulva.  “She’s ashamed,” says the vet.  “She doesn’t want you to know she’s sick.”  The dog gives me a look of gentle apology that is blurred through my sudden, sharp tears.  A couple of hours later, she’s been spayed and rests quietly in the recovery room.  She’ll receive treatment for the cancerous growth and will, hopefully, be okay.

A Siberian husky named Pupi hasn’t eaten or defecated in five days.  The vet isn’t optimistic but gives the teenaged owner some medicine and directs him to return the next day.  “Pupi, we need you to poo.”  The young man tries to smile at the vet’s attempt to cheer him up, but his heart is clearly breaking—he has no money for prolonged treatment.

A European woman named Elsie zooms up in an old VW to collect her three girls—Coco, Poco, and Loco.  In a cloud of purple muumuu and pink hair, she greets each newly spayed dog with lusty hugs and kisses, carrying them carefully to the car and admonishing every child she sees along the way—“Now remember to be kind to the animals—no kicking, no throwing stones, and no strings around the neck.  Yes?”  

After two days of surgery and over 200 animals, we sit with sodas and beers and relax.  A few dogs continue to wait for their owners to show up and take them home.  The day is cooling, the beer is fine, and Bobbi lies beside me, replete with illicit cat food she discovered in the recovery room.  I run my fingers over her protruding ribs.  Her teats are spread out on the ground like lily pads.  “Bobbi, old girl,” I tell her, “that’s it—you’ll never do this again.  From now on, all the food is yours and yours alone.  All the hugs and ear scratches and head pats are yours and yours alone.”  She wags her tail and grins; she knows."

25,000 people die annually from rabies; 80% are children.  VIDAS (Spanish for ‘lives’) recognizes that animal overpopulation directly contributes to human disease.  If you would like to help improve the lives of animals and people through veterinary medicine and education, please check the website at for upcoming clinics.

Voice for Animals Society

Edmonton, Alberta

P.O. Box 68119, 162 Bonnie Doon Mall, Edmonton, Alberta, T6C 4N6, Canada

Phone: 780-490-0905 Fax: 780-922-5287      Web: Email:

Check the web site for alerts, news, resources, links and ideas on how you can help animals!

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Posted: Feb 4, 2006 7:54pm


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Silvie A.
, 3, 2 children
Hometown, AB, Canada
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