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January 13, 2010

Training Vets in Peru

Humane Society International

  • Waiting their turn to be seen. © HSI

  • Teaching and learning. © HSI

  • Recovering after surgery. © HSI

Four doctors huddled around the tiny orange kitten on the table. Two veterinary assistants took turns taking temperature, pulse and respiration, while a third person hurriedly filled out forms with medical information for little Chiquito. Despite the large team attending to him, Chiquito was not undergoing a complicated medical procedure; he was just being neutered. With the support of Humane Society International, the Peruvian team of doctors and assistants were improving their spay and neuter skills and learning how to provide the best possible care for their patients.

The site of the HSI training, San Juan de Lurigancho, is one of the poorest districts in Lima. Grupo Caridad, a Lima-based animal protection organization, has been working with HSI since 2007 to bring spay/neuter services and humane education to San Juan de Lurigancho and beyond. The program has already sterilized hundreds of animals, and the community is now familiar with the colorful banner that announces upcoming free clinics. However, the clinics, which are usually held in private homes throughout the district, present a major challenge for any surgeon. All supplies and materials must be transported to the chosen site each day, and many supplies that are common in the U.S., for example, are simply not available in Peru. Surgery often takes place on a kitchen table.

Many pets are kept outside, and although the owners are briefed on post-surgical care, there is no guarantee that the animals will be kept indoors while recovering. For these reasons, surgeons must be adaptable and skilled.

In June 2009, HSI consultant veterinarian Dr. Gaby Flacke evaluated the Lima program, and in December she returned to provide the training curriculum. Dr. Flacke worked intensively with the Grupo Caridad veterinarians, focusing on topics such as reducing the risk of infection, monitoring vital signs, and providing proper pain management. HSI provided supplies that will help the veterinarians achieve those goals.

Grupo Caridad has tremendous community support, with a database of around 100 homes willing to host a free clinic. With HSI training, the organization is now providing some of the best medical care in the country. For animals like Chiquito, being born in an impoverished neighborhood used to mean a life of uncontrolled reproduction and lack of medical care. With HSI's help, Grupo Caridad is turning that around.