PPR’s longtime volunteer and supporter, Christine Garrison shared her experience volunteering with PPR at a Mexico spay and neuter clinic and why her experience cemented her support for spay/neuter programming!
In 2012, I went to Playa del Carmen for a friend’s wedding. We stayed in a resort, enjoyed cocktails, and relaxed in the sun for four days. My trip then took an interesting turn as I then headed to Cancun with three other PPR volunteers to help staff a large, high-volume spay/neuter clinic that was taking place later that week.
Instead of a crowd of wedding guests and long-time friends, I was now surrounded by a bustling mass of volunteers, pet owners, and a seemingly endless line of cats and dogs in need stretching out the door. For five days, volunteer veterinarians performed surgery after surgery on dogs and cats. Some of the animals had families, some were feral and lived on the streets or in the jungle. But the reason for the clinic visit was the same – preventing the ongoing cycle of animal homelessness and suffering.
Instead of an air-conditioned resort room, I was now in an open gymnasium, standing beside a table of cats and kittens recovering from surgery. The cats were lined up, vaccinated, and monitored for any anesthesia complications. As the cats woke up, we called for their family or rescue group to take the cat home or back to its cat colony on the streets. One memorable kitten struggled after surgery, but the vets acted quickly with some medications and I spent a half hour rubbing her chest until she recovered, meowing and ready to go home.
Instead of a delicious cocktail by the beach, I ended my day with a cold beer and a sore back, thrilled with the accomplishments of the team. Over five days, the volunteer team spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and provided other assorted care for 1,574 animals. But it wasn’t just spay/neuter surgeries provided. A dog came in with a leg wound from being dragged behind a car, and that dog was helped with veterinary care. A cat came in for a spay surgery with a giant abscess on her face, and that abscess was also cared for. The generosity and patience of the volunteers was boundless.
And instead of tears of joy at a wedding, I cried tears of joy when a semi-feral cat was given an opportunity for a better life. A woman brought in semi-feral street cat she found in her neighborhood. The cat also had a zip tie wrapped tightly around her leg, which was one of several instances of animal cruelty I saw inflicted on the street animals. The zip tie was removed, the cat’s leg was saved, and she was spayed, but we were all concerned about how this cat would recover from surgery on the street. Of all of the things I saw during my time at this clinic, the only time I cried was when the woman who brought the cat into the clinic decided to take the cat in—even though she was semi-feral—and give her care and give her a home. Thinking about it now, almost ten years later, still makes me tear up.
It was one of the most impactful three days I’ve ever spent, and what I saw during that clinic makes me thrilled to continue my support of Pet Project Rescue’s ongoing efforts to help animals in need in Mexico. The efforts in Mexico provide so much needed care for animals in need, but these clinics also support the people in these communities and educate the younger generations about animal welfare. It’s critical work that I’m proud to support.