IDEXXers Help Pets in South African Townships

Monday, December 5, 2016

IDEXXers from the Johannesburg Lab volunteered at an outreach event which sterilized 102 animals and vaccinated/dewormed about 500 animals ─ in one day.

People from the Kathlehong Township lined up to have their cats and dogs evaluated by the team of volunteer veterinarians and nurses at the free clinic. 

“There is a big need for this in South Africa, as we have lots of informal settlements and pet owners with no access to vet care,” explained Dr. Elizna Boag, Medical Commercial Marketing Manager.

Dr. Boag was one of 12 veterinarians, from different practices and industries, who sterilized, vaccinated and administrated clinical exams and treatments.  Every animal who came received a bucket of food, and dogs received new collars and leashes. 

Elizna has been volunteering for the last three years with the outreach project run by Animal Allies, a non-profit animal rescue organization, and the Bromhof Veterinary Clinic, which provides medical volunteers and funding. Watch the video about the event.

This year, when other IDEXXers learned about the outreach program they started joining Elizna at the quarterly outreach events.  IDEXXers from the lab, Warehouse and Customer Service have participated, giving their time and expertise to volunteer at the events in townships across South Africa.

Nicol Schneider, Laboratory Operations Manager, is proud so many IDEXXers are helping this important cause. “Individuals, vet practices and organizations work tirelessly to help make the lives of these township pets a little better,” she said.

Maxine MacDonald, Laboratory Scientist II, joined Elizna at the November 27 event, bringing along several friends to help.

“We all had a great feeling of accomplishment after the day. I assisted with the recovery of the neutered animals and my friends were more comfortable assisting with the administration required at the clinic,” said Maxine. “We will most definitely do it again and I will get more of my friends to volunteer.”

Attention has been focused on Kathlehong because no other animal welfare organization was assisting this township. “When we went to assessed the situation, what met our eyes was beyond anything we ever imagined,” Animal Allies wrote on their website. “So many animals in dire need of attention, treatment, food and help.”

At the May event, 450 dogs and cats were vaccinated and 84 animals were sterilized. Four animals were taken back to the clinic for further treatment and returned to their owners two weeks later.

The group is well-equipped, and was even able to do a blood transfusion on one animal. Elizna explains how the 12 veterinarians, 10 nurses and other volunteers were able to treat so many animals and operate in the makeshift clinic.    

In her own words, Dr. Elizna Boag

The residents are informed of the day a few weeks ahead, and encouraged to book their animals for sterilization, but anyone is welcome on the day. There are different “stations” if I could call it that. Firstly, there are a couple of nurses and volunteers who tend to the healthy younger animals, or those who’ve been sterilized already, which they then vaccinate and deworm, give food, a blanket and tick & flea treatment.

The second station is for animals who are not well. These animals cannot be sterilized, but they are examined by one of the vets who then treat them accordingly, and if necessary take them back to the clinic.

The third station is for those animals who are sterilized. It is done in three different and separate rooms. The first room is where they receive a clinical examination by a vet, a blood smear (as many have Ehrlichiosis or Babesiosis) and i/v fluids. From there they are induced, receive long acting pain medication and once under anesthesia, moved to the theatre. The conditions are not ideal, but the room is fumigated with F10 as soon as we arrive. Sterile surgery packs are used, sterile gloves and all precautions are taken as far as possible. After sterilization, the patients are moved to recovery, where volunteers sit by their side until they are fully recovered. They then give advice and instructions to the owners before they can go home.

Each year, IDEXXers from all over the world volunteer over 11,000 hours as part of our global volunteer program. Every employee has two paid “GiVE” days annually to pursue their community contribution of choice.

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