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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkNews from Around Banderas Bay | August 2007 

A Dog-Gone Good Place to Volunteer
email this pageprint this pageemail usLaura Gelezunas - PVNN


Volunteers often say it is one of the most satisfying life experiences a person can have.

Volunteers run all aspects of the clinic, except performing the actual surgery.

Volunteers learn how to take vital signs and comfort the animals as they come out of anesthesia.
The dogs are barking, the cats are howling and the volunteer sitting behind the registration table at a high-volume spay and neuter clinic in the Puerto Vallarta area is checking in a long line of animals with patience and a smile.

"Being an animal lover I am appalled at the overpopulation problem and the suffering of cats and dogs in Puerto Vallarta, so I jumped at the chance to volunteer at a clinic," says Cathy Gordon, recovery room secretary, "When I first arrived at the clinic, I was surprised at the surroundings. But since these are outreach programs, one must go to the colonias where the residents can walk in with their pets, so the "hospital suite" might not be exactly what you expect, but everything was clean and there was definitely a standard operating procedure."

"This volunteer thing is fun!" exclaims Marilyn Grande, recovery room technician, "I was amazed at the caring attitude of the owners. I hear a lot of negativity about how animals are mistreated here, I am sure this is true to an extent, but the animals brought to the clinic, owned by poor people, were healthy, happy, and loved."

Clinics usually begin at 9 am, but most patients don't arrive until 9:30 or 10 am. It is a M*A*S*H* unit, mobile ANIMAL surgical hospital. Volunteers run all aspects of the clinic, except performing the actual surgery. Duties include: registration, pre-operative procedures, assisting the vets during the operation, and recovery. All of these jobs are imperative to a successful clinic. Volunteers often say it is one of the most satisfying life experiences a person can have.

When a M*A*S*H* unit rolls into a colonia, it attracts a lot of attention, especially children. If there is enough space in the recovery room, kids will be recruited to assist. They learn how to take vital signs and comfort the animals as they come out of anesthesia. This is a great experience, and one can just imagine the stories the children who helped out will tell when they get home. Perhaps one will even grow up to become a veterinarian.

More than anything, volunteers have all been touched by this unique opportunity to meet, assist and connect with the Mexican families who love their animals yet lack the funds to sterilize them. These pet owners take their positive experiences back into their impoverished neighborhoods and enlighten their friends about the value of spaying and neutering. The word does get around.

"At the end of the busy day when the last pet owner has come to take his groggy charge home, and everything is cleaned up and made ready for the next day, you can't help but leave tired, but with a wonderful feeling of accomplishment, a feeling you have contributed in a positive way to this great cause," says Cathy, "You have not only helped cut down on the pet population, but have made friends in the process."

"It was a hot, busy, satisfying day," says Marilyn, "We need more volunteers next time, think about it, have some fun and learn something new."

PEACE has clinics often in Nayarit, but hopes to expand into Jalisco. There have been two clinics in that state so far and there are plans for more this season. We will keep you posted.

For more information at PEACE, visit their website, www.peacemexico.org. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Laura Gelezunas at vallartadiva@gmail.com.
A Banderas Bay non-profit organization, PEACE acts as an umbrella organization for four charitable programs, Casa Comunidad, Ayuda Los Animales (Help The Animals), a Women's Co-Op (Manos de Mujeres Unidas) and Community Pride. It is a U.S. non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, which accepts tax-deductible donations and a Mexican Civil Association that issues facturas for donations. For more information, please visit PeaceMexico.org or click HERE to read more about PEACE



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