After our meeting with the local ministery (about a month ago) we finally got the ‘OK’ signal to start a little campaign on Floreana Island. We spent the weekend packing everything and preparing the surgical instruments.
On monday the 3rd of June we set course to the small island, about 2 hours sailing from Puerto Ayora. Unfortunately, when we arrived, nothing was arranged (the idea was that the ministery had spread the word about the campaign before our arrival…). We were told that there would be a meeting at 7 that afternoon to inform all the residents, but given the fact that nothing was arranged we doubted that people would show up. So we spent the day setting up our mobile clinic in the local army base and going door to door talking to people about our program. Nobody showed up at the meeting, not even our guiding person from the ministery who ‘organised’ the meeting… Luckily we had already a few appointments for the next day.
We started early and at 11 we got more support arriving from Puerto Ayora. In the afternoon we were able to capture 5 cats from the local hotel and we convinced more people to come the next day to get their pets spayed! Since we were with 6 people we were able to operate on all the animals in the morning. Unfortunately most of the people were afraid to bring us their animals, because projects in the past were not able to take good care of their pets. Lots of animals died in those projects. Therefore we were only able to help 14 dogs and cats but we went door to door to talk about petcare and animal welfare. Since all the animals did great after surgery, we hope that the owners are more willing in the future to bring their pets. We already saw a change in attitude within the first 2 days.
After 2 days of surgery we left the island with a mixed feeling. As for the 66 animals we expected to see, there were already a lot more. And because of misstreatments in the past, the campaign turned out to be more about creating awareness and gaining trust than about actual neutering.
By talking to the people and showing them that Darwin Animal Doctors is not involved in erradication programs but actually helps animals, we managed to create a solid base for future campaigns. As for a primary visit we are very happy with the results and we hope that the DAD will continue to visit this beautiful island!
Unfortunately our internet connection is not very stabel so pictures are comming up soon…..
(Taken from Tjarda Reints Bok and Jochem Lastdrager’s blog, Travelling Animal Doctors)