CANDi + Mexico = A Great Adventure!

Courtesy of: Joye

On November 30, 2013 I headed off to Cancun, Mexico for the trip of a lifetime.  Over the next week, working with over 50 other volunteers organized by Cats and Dogs International, we spayed and neutered over 900 dogs and cats!  But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself…

Cats and Dogs International (CANDi) is an organization dedicated to promoting the humane treatment of animals through tourism.  CANDi partners with tourist destinations (such as Cancun, Mexico) to raise funds for sterilization clinics in poor communities in the surrounding areas.  Pet and stray population control is a huge issue, since many people have little or no access to (or funds to support) veterinary care.  CANDi recruits international volunteers (veterinarians, technicians and non-medical personnel) to travel to these communities to provide free spay/neuter services.  For more information, please see my previous blog “Truro Vet Gives Back – In Mexico” and visit

As I was saying, on November 30th I traveled to Cancun to take part in this amazing event.  We stayed at the lovely all-inclusive RIU Cancun, a beautiful resort that is a proud sponsor of CANDi.  Although we were each responsible for paying for our stay, the cost was greatly reduced and we all appreciated their hospitality.  Our team had a meet-and-greet that evening, where we got our first look at the folks we would be spending lots of time with over the next week!

Morning 1 at RIU Cancun

The clinic ran for a total of 5 days, with one free day in the middle to recuperate.  Each day we spent 12-13 hours at the clinic, catching the shuttle over early and returning late in the evening.  I’m sure the hotel staff were thrilled to see us all trooping in to the buffet at the end of a long, hot, tiring day.  We quickly adopted the concept of “dirty dinner”, which meant heading to the buffet before going to our rooms to clean up.  Somehow, our little section of the restaurant always seemed to have lots of space for us…certainly couldn’t have been because we smelled bad? 🙂

As a technician, I knew before I headed out that I would be assigned to one of three areas: induction/intubation, surgery monitoring, or patient recovery.  All three areas are extremely valuable and present different challenges.  When I learned I would be assigned to surgery monitoring, I was nervous, but excited.  All patients were kept asleep for surgery using injectable anesthetic drugs, with no access to supplemental oxygen or anesthetic gas.  This is hugely different from the normal procedures I am used to, and adds a higher level of risk for the patient.  If they began to wake up during surgery, an alert technician had to deliver the correct dose of anesthetic (based on weight and species) intravenously before the patient became too alert.  It was a tough but rewarding learning curve for the techs involved…but after all my careful planning and preparation…I wasn’t one of them!

A surgery technician all ready to go!  Surgery techs in action

When we opened for the day on the first morning (late, of course…there are always bugs to work out on the first day), I happened to be sitting at the reception table drawing up drugs for sedating the dogs.  This is the “induction” portion of the day, where the awake dogs are given an injection in the muscle to send them to sleep for the surgery.  Since no one else was available, I began greeting people and sedating dogs…a job I continued right until the very end of the clinic.

Drawing up drugs

Induction presents its own level of challenge that is very different from surgery monitoring, however.  The number one concern is that the patients are awake when you meet them.  Some of these dogs are beloved house pets, friendly and happy to meet a new face.  Many, however, were frightened by the noises, strange dogs, funny smells and overwhelming environment they had arrived in, often waiting many hours outside for their turn.  I was the last person they wanted to see.  We also did surgery on “street” dogs, stray/feral dogs who had been captured by volunteers and brought to us in kennels.  These dogs were also frightened and aggressive and required special care.  I had fantastic volunteers helping me with dog restraint and I hardly got a scratch all week long!

Restraint for induction  Street dogs arriving

Determining the right amount of drug for each dog was sometimes a challenge as well.  Sedatives work very differently in happy, relaxed dogs than in terrified, aggressive dogs.  There are also some breeds that are more sensitive to sedatives than others, which was also a factor in calculations.  We also did surgery on very small puppies, who have different drug needs from older puppies or adults.  The most difficult aspect of induction for me, however, was managing the surgical flow.

Puppy induction

After dogs were sedated, they would head to the intubation table where two technicians placed endotracheal (breathing) tubes and IV catheters.  From there they would travel to the surgical prep area, where volunteers would clip and scrub the surgical site.

Intubation  Surgical prep

The next step was surgery, assuming that I had done my job well and there was a table (well, an ironing board) available for them.  If I sedated too many animals, or perhaps too many females in a row (spays take longer than neuters), there might not be a veterinarian available right away.  If I sedated too few animals, there were vets standing idle with nothing to do!

Oops..all backed up!

To add to this mix, another team was busy sedating cats for surgery as well.  Cats present their own special challenges, since they come with many built-in weapons and a very strong instinct to flee.  Many came to us in shopping bags, allowing us to deliver their injections through the bag and reducing the chance of injury (to anyone, pets or people) or loss of the pet.

Cat in a bag

Some other carriers were more creative!

Cats in a bird cage

After sedating, cats headed over to the same intubation/prep team used by my dogs, so it was easy to miscalculate the number of animals waiting for surgery.  Thankfully, by Day 2 I had a pretty good handle on that aspect and we didn’t have many issues after that.

After surgery, patients were carried to recovery by local volunteers (or anyone with free hands).  The recovery team, headed up by Sherrill MacKeigan (who you may remember from her days as a technician student at TVH), had a lot of work to do.  They had to ensure a safe and rapid recovery from anesthesia, monitoring patient temperature, heart rate and respiration rate. They gave injections of antibiotics and pain medication.  They also gave each pet an ear tattoo, trimmed toenails, clipped fur mats, cleaned ears, picked ticks, and any other grooming care needed by the pet.

Sherrill in recovery  The recovery table Ticks!

The pet owners played a huge role in caring for their animals throughout the day.  They helped restrain their pets for induction, waited with them until they went to sleep, and then headed over to recovery with them to help wake them up after.  This was a real bonding experience, and often the whole family was present.  Once the pet was up and walking, the owners would take them home, filled with smiles and gratitude.

Recovering pets  Checking a heart rate

One of the aspects of the clinic that surprised and impressed me most was how quickly the volunteers came together as a team.  Despite the heat, the long days, the aching feet and sore backs, there were no complaints and everyone worked hard all day long.  When you are united by a common purpose of helping others, it’s easier to set aside conflicts and work together to achieve your goals.

The team

Special thanks to all of the industry representatives who donated products to support my trip and the sterilization program.  Thanks go as well to Hector Navarro, professional photographer who took most of these beautiful images.  Please visit his website at to see many more great images.  Huge thanks to Dr. Gwen and Juanita for supporting me in this endeavor, and to all of our clients who donated through the complimentary nail trim donation program in November.  The success of these programs depends heavily on all the generous donations of time, money and supplies.

CANDi’s next sterilization program will be held in the Dominican Republic from April 25-28, 2014.  If you are interested in helping dogs and cats in the DR, please visit CANDi’s website at  There are currently positions open for volunteers, or you can choose to donate to help out.

If you would like more information about my trip with CANDi or have any questions, please call 893-2341 and ask for me (Joye) or email



Truro Vet Gives Back – In Mexico!

Courtesy of: Joye

Who doesn’t love a winter trip down south?  Many people in our area travel once a year (or more) to visit sunny climates during the depths of our stormy season.  There’s nothing quite like the feeling of checking into an all-inclusive resort for a week of soaking up the sun.  Not a care in the world!

But frequently, travellers like to take some trips outside of their little piece of tropical heaven.  They want to experience the local culture, see how the residents really live.  What they see isn’t always heavenly.  The people often live in poor conditions we would consider unacceptable…and they share these conditions with their pets.  There are also huge populations of stray dogs and cats unlike any that exist back home.

dog in Mexico

These holiday-ers will sometimes return to their resorts full of concern.  They express to the management that they are upset over the large numbers of stray animals and the poor conditions they live in.  The management will then report these concerns to the local government, as they are worried that tourists will no longer want to visit their resort if they see sights that are upsetting to them.  The local government then feels it must take action to preserve tourism…by carrying out large scale executions of dogs and cats to try to reduce their numbers.

In addition to being extremely inhumane, these mass killings of dogs and cats do little to address the problem of overpopulation.  It has been shown that the most effective way to handle these problems is through cooperative efforts between rescue groups, local government and members of the community to establish low or no cost spay/neuter programs.

mom with pups

That’s where Cats and Dogs International (CANDi) comes in.  CANDi is an organization that brings tourism businesses together with local animal welfare groups to implement programs that humanely address the issue of cat and dog overpopulation in destination communities.  They organize spay/neuter clinics in poor areas of resort communities and use international volunteers to staff them.

You may be wondering what all of this has to do with Truro Vet.  On November 30, 2013, I will be flying to Cancun, Mexico, to participate in CANDi’s next spay/neuter clinic.  It will be a whirlwind trip of 5 (long) days carrying out as many spays and neuters of both owned and stray dogs and cats as we can possibly accomplish with a team of 30 people!

surgery in Mexico

All of the volunteers for CANDi’s clinics pay their own way to participate, and also try to take as many necessary supplies (such as surgical masks and gloves, IV catheters, medications, dewormers, etc) as possible down with them.  If you would like to support my trip to help pets in Mexico, please call us at 893-2341 or drop by.  All money raised will be used to offset the cost of travel and to purchase supplies for the clinics.  For those clients up to date on annual vaccinations with us, our nail trim donations for November will also be going to support this cause.  I am truly grateful for any donations and I’m happy to answer any further questions you might have.

For more information about how Truro Vet also gives back to pets and stray animals locally, please visit our blog, or call us with any questions.

My next blog will be coming up in December, after I return from this amazing experience.  I can’t wait to share our many success stories with everyone!

Recovering pets in Mexico



Our Lost Souls Fund – Here For Animals In Need

Courtesy of:  Ashley

The Lost Souls Fund is a fund created and supported by the Truro Veterinary Hospital.  It was implemented with the knowledge that there are injured stray and abandoned animals in our community that need our help.  We thought we would share a few stories about the Fund and some of the animals we have helped so far.

Wiggles, our new “Assistant Manager”, was helped back onto her four paws with the aid of the Fund.   As you may read here in the “Wiggles’ World” blog, she arrived at the clinic trembling.  She needed intravenous fluids and medication for multiple days.  Once she was stable, she was spayed, vaccinated, feline leukemia tested, dewormed and treated for fleas.  If Victor and the staff had not decided she was a fit for the clinic she would have been placed up for adoption.

Flynn, whom you met in the last blog by Dr. Michelle, was also a recipient.  He had exploratory surgery to find out why his belly was so swollen.  Turns out Dr. Gwen needed to remove his abnormally enlarged kidney and she neutered him too.  After he recovered from his surgery he received vaccinations, a feline leukemia test, deworming and flea treatment.  Once Dr. Michelle returned from her vacation she fell in love and the rest is history.

Ember’s story started in the Sobeys’ parking lot.  She was found under a car hood.  Our technician, Joye, happened to be grocery shopping and brought her to the clinic.  She was examined by a doctor and put on medication for her burnt feet and skin.  She stayed with us until she was healed and able to be spayed.  She also received vaccinations, a feline leukemia test, deworming and flea treatment.  We found her a lovely home.

R.K. and P.K. were the latest animals to benefit from the fund.  P.K. was neutered, vaccinated, feline leukemia tested, dewormed and had flea treatment.  He was adopted out to a home with another cat and is enjoying his new relaxing lifestyle.  R.K. (aka Rowlin, thanks to our Facebook contest) was with us a little longer only because the right home for her took longer to find.  During her stay with us she was spayed, vaccinated, feline leukemia tested, dewormed and treated for fleas.  Her forever home was discovered just a few weeks ago.

All of the animals helped by the Lost Souls Fund are adopted to new homes for a minimal fee, which in turn is placed back into the fund.  Sadly, there are some injured animals who arrive beyond our ability to heal them.  For them, the Lost Souls Fund provides the funds to alleviate their suffering.

If you have been in to visit us on Fridays you may have noticed some of our staff wearing colorful scrub tops.  The Truro Vet Care Team is now dressing for “Casual Friday”, with a donation going towards the Lost Souls Fund.  There has been much individual support from members of our community as well, and our December nail trim donations go towards the Lost Souls Fund (for more info on nail trim donations, click here).

The animals in the stories above are just a few that have received care thanks to the Lost Souls Fund.  We are looking forward to being able to continue to aid in the care of animals like the ones we have already helped.  The continued support and donations from the staff and community will help support us in our efforts.

If you would like more information on how you could help please come visit Wiggles or give Truro Vet a call at 893-2341.


Truro Vet is Celebrating Animal Health Week

Come celebrate with us!  Animal Health Week (September 30 – October 6) is a national public awareness campaign organized by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA).  This year’s theme is “Preventive Veterinary Care…for the health of it!”

Preventive veterinary care involves all of the things we can do to prevent problems before they get a chance to start.  Preventive care includes vaccination, deworming, flea and tick control, professional and home dental care, diet, and wellness screening.  This week, we encourage everyone to consider how we can help you keep your beloved pets healthy.

This week if you pop in with your furry friend, he/she can have a photo taken with our I ♥ Animal Health Week sign.  We are having so much fun posting these photos on Facebook for everyone to see.  Also, we are currently holding a children’s colouring contest.  We have a great cartoon celebrating dog safety for kids to colour, and next week we will be announcing a winner.  The deadline for contest entries is Saturday, October 6th.

Please share your stories of ways that you keep your pet healthy!  We always love to hear from you, and look forward to snapping pictures all week.  If you have any questions about preventive health care for your pet, please call us at 893-2341!




Changing The World – One Paw at a Time?

For many years, pets who receive annual vaccinations with our hospital have been entitled to free monthly nail trims.  Many clients use this service each month to keep their pets’ toes looking their best.  Here at Truro Vet we are always looking for more ways to give back to our local, national and global communities.  Last July we started our “Nail Trim Donation Program”, in which we select a different animal related charity each month and accept donations for these nail trims.  We have been so pleased by the overwhelming generosity of our clients.

Past recipients of our donations include the Forgotten Heroes monument, Veterinarians Without Borders, Animal Rescue Coalitions, World Wildlife Fund, Animals Asia, Colchester SPCA and our own Lost Souls Fund.  Between January 1 and August 31 we collected close to $1200.00 for these important causes.  Since our beginning last July, that total is over $2000.00.  A small donation each month can add up to big change!

If you have an idea for an animal related charity that could use our help, or if you would like to book an appointment for your free nail trim, please contact us at 893-2341.  A very special thank you to all of our clients who are helping us help animals around the world…one paw at a time!