I know day six is a bit late but by the time we did surgery, packed up all the gear, got it to the airport, packed it all in the motorhome and got it to the motel, it was all I could do to stay conscious. So you get it today.
Our last morning in Cat Lake started with breakfast over a fire in a little smoke hut lent to us by a community member. There’s something delicious about things cooked over a fire.
Surprisingly our first patient arrived before we were done with breakfast so a few of us rushed over to our makeshift clinic and began preparing for the day’s surgeries. There’s actually quite a bit that goes into getting ready.
Oxygen and anesthetic machines need to be turned on, primed, and filled with anesthetic. Medications need to be located, set out, and made up for each animal. Gauzes, instruments, ET tubes, prep solutions for cleaning the skin, and myriad other things need to be set out and organized.
We had a relatively short list of surgeries, leaving us enough time to pack all of the totes, boxes, and kennels in order to leave. The dogs here in Cat Lake behaved remarkably well for their procedures despite never having met us. They all seemed to crave the attention.
In addition to the four puppies from Round Lake, we removed three dogs from Cat Lake. One is a large Malamute cross who’d been tied up for the entirety of his life due to the lack of socialization with other dogs and subsequent aggression issues. With people, he is incredibly loving and surely with proper training could become great with other dogs.
The second is a three month old yellow lab cross pup with ears too big for his head and a love for cuddling. His owner had many children and could not afford to feed him, so he was surrendered to us.
The third is one that I especially liked. It’s hard to say what she is crossed with but whatever the combination may be, she is very cute and surprisingly sweet despite the way she was treated. She was not owned by anyone in particular in the community, and was regularly teased and abused by passing children. If only I could take this one home but my present circumstances will not allow it.
All three canines need loving forever homes, and with their personalities I hope it won’t take long before they are settled in.
I can’t express the sense of relief I feel to know that none of these dogs will continue living the lives that they were and can go on living like pets instead of “pests”. I feel deeply for the dogs that we had to leave behind.
There were far too many people wanting to send dogs out of the community. What really gets me is the number of people who want more pups or continue to bring dogs into the community, only to neglect or attempt to send them out once they’re no longer cute little fluffy things. The lack of regard for the lives of these animals is utterly disgusting. They’re almost disposable to many of them and only seem to serve as brief distractions from the tedium of life in Cat Lake. From kids instigating fights within the pack of dogs to outright abuse, these animals are made into targets for all kinds of nasty behaviour.
Parenting needs to be stepped up and the kids given the necessary tools to learn the difference between right and wrong but also become accountable for their misbehaviour. Even in the short time we stayed we saw all kinds of mischief including graffiti, albeit horridly spelled graffiti, appearing one morning on the building across from our little dwelling. Some samples of their artwork include “bitches and holes” and “once a snitch allways a snitch”. It would be laughable if it weren’t so pathetic.
All in all, with two teams over two weeks in three communities we accomplished over one hundred sixty spay and neuter surgeries plus that many and more vaccinations. If even one third of those were spays, with an average of six pups per litter, we potentially prevented over six hundred unwanted dogs from life in these communities.
It’s not to say that there aren’t people who care about their dogs but there just isn’t the capacity, financial means, or access to medical care in these areas to properly care for the dogs.
Even if the trip was stressful, frustrating, and at times maddeningly tiring, it feels great to know that we made an impact and perhaps even contributed to the advancement of animal welfare in the communities of Fort Hope, Round Lake, and Cat Lake. While the problem is far from solved, hopefully we can continue toward our goal and make it better with each passing year.
If you have any comments or questions about how you can help Friends of Animush on future trips or by fostering one of our rescued dogs, please feel free to contact me with the form below or search for “Cat Lake Friends of Animush” on Facebook.