COZUMEL, MEXICO – Veterinarians and vet technicians from World Vets and the Humane Society of Cozumel (HSC) worked together just this past week to provide free clinical services to 512 of the island’s many dogs and cats.
Mayor Freddy Marrufo attended the clinic on Tuesday to offer his thanks to the dozens of volunteers most of whom hail from Mexico, the United States and Canada for helping lower the stray pet population and keeping domestic animals healthy.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the World Vets program, a project that CEO Cathy King says was inspired by her time spent as a volunteer in Cozumel.
Hundreds visited the makeshift clinic at San Gervasio Park on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to bring in their lovely pets, as well as neighborhood strays that might otherwise never receive any kind of medical care. Wait times were quite long, but residents were determined to have their animals registered, and grateful for the chance to do so.
The three-day event was organized by Lisa Ramirez who is president of the HSC, in cooperation with field veterinarian Dr. Jerry Brown of World Vets. The annual Spay & Neuter clinic is an important part of the Humane Society’s role upon the island, since local pet owners often are not able to afford professional veterinary services for their dogs and cats.
As for the stray animals, many local families are happy to provide food and shelter for these although they do not necessarily have the funds to pay for surgery or the ongoing care. For this reason the HSC often visits individual neighborhoods to pick up cats and dogs, bring them in for spay and neuter surgeries, and then return them.
Animal abuse and negligence are relatively low on the island when compared to that of other parts of Mexico, and that is likely due to the intensive work of the HSC when it comes to educating pet owners about proper care and nutrition for their pets.
Workers at this week’s clinic set up four main work stations at the park under a massive temporary tent: patient prep, surgery, cat recovery, and also dog recovery. Staff worked nine to 11-hour shifts each and every day not only to spay and neuter the animals, but to administer flea and tick treatments, deworming medicines, antibiotics and vitamin supplements.
Cats also had the tips of their left clipped off — a process called “tipping” — to identify them as having already received surgery.
Volunteers and pet owners together endured a water shortage followed by pouring rain on the final day which threatened to bring the clinic to a swift halt; thanks to quickly-delivered bottled water and a water pump, everyone managed to finish up the day as planned.
At the close of the final day, already two hours past the intended final hour of the clinic, exhausted veterinarians finally packed up their work stations. Many pets were still in line for surgery, but the HSC has promised to set up a smaller free clinic at its own building this coming week to ensure everyone is attended to.
The follow-up clinic will be open on Wednesday, March 9, and headed by local HSC vet Maryel Santos.
Photos by Tati Biermas