This year our generous sponsors at Centaur Services were able to provide a bursary so that vet nurses could volunteer their skills and time on an international WVS project. Kimberly Pearce who went on the trip wrote about her participation on a WVS trip out in Paxos, Greece.
Earlier this year I contacted Lindsay from Paxos Animal Welfare Society and WVS regarding volunteering on a neutering project in Greece. Between us we decided that a week during March would be the best choice and so the trip to Paxos was organised. Myself and fellow Veterinary Nurse Clare set off from our respective homes at midnight on Monday 27th March. We met at Gatwick airport at 4AM and boarding our easyJet flight to Corfu at 5:55AM. We arrived in sunny Corfu where the temperature was in the mid 20s. After collecting our luggage we boarded the bus for the town centre and disembarked at the port. Having arrived a few hours early we had a refreshing drink whilst enjoying the hot sun whilst waiting for the hydrofoil boat that would take us to the island of Paxos. The boat trip to Paxos was very calm and we began to unwind ready for a week at the fronline of animal welfare. On arrival at Paxos Port I was handed the keys of our very own little bright yellow car. The port was only a few minutes from the town of Gias where our apartment was. Our apartment was lovely, refreshing and big enough to suit an average size family! Clare and I picked up some food in the supermarket and made our first Greek dinner before retiring to bed.
We woke up to another gorgeous sunny day on Paxos. We met with Nefeli, the local vet, and travelled to the clinic together. On arrival there were several clients already waiting with their pets. As Greece is such a relaxed country, owners tend to turn up as and when they like rather than at specific times for appointments.
The volunteers had only managed to catch two cats on that particular day. Whilst we sedated the first cat, I noticed a change in it respiratory pattern so Nefeli the vet further investigated with the help of ultrasound. Upon closer look we were able to see that a diaphragmatic hernia was present and so we had to abort the spay as the hernia took priority. The second cat had the cat flu virus which had a lot of discharge from its eyes and nose and so again this one was not suitable for neutering as it needed to recover.
Also that day, a dog called Packer was admitted as an emergency. He had been attacked by another dog and had been bitten through the chest. The poor fella was in a bad way. He had several broken ribs, several deep puncture wounds all the way in to his lungs and pneumothorax. He needed a lot of nurse care and attention to start him on the road to recovery. We also saw several other patients throughout the day including a lovely spaniel with a hairline fracture to its olecranon, a dog carrying leishmania, and several itchy cats with ear mites. We left the clinic that evening feeling quite drained but accomplished from the busy day. The local volunteers planned on bringing eight news cats to spay for tomorrow and so it was back to the apartment to rest get some much needed rest.
Day two at the clinic started with five stray cats that were brought in by the local volunteers. We moved them in to preweighed cages and worked out their individual weights. We then sedated them and shaved their fur for the operations. All the patients were female so we clipped their bellies. During the operation we marked their ears to show that they had been neutered (to prevent them being brought in again if captured).
Packer the dog was brought back to be checked on. As he had a wander around the surgery, he growled at everyone and even scoffed the cat food. But we took this as a good sign that he was feeling better! We also had a minor dental to perform on a road traffic collision patient and another one patient with a broken tibia and fibula who had a bandage placed. The dog was sent for an orthopaedic referral to Corfu where there is more access to orthopaedic instruments. The day finished with tidying up the clinic and returning the cats to where they were caught.
Our next day at the clinic was pretty quiet with only one stray cat for castration and one for spaying. Packer, spent another day with us. Now his drain has been removed, he's making good daily progress. A lovely cocker spaniel visited today for a groom and for a check up, and a very sneezy cat had its nose flushed and had some medication given. It's nice to see a mix of local pets and feral animals at the clinic. So far we were really enjoying our week with PAWS.
Day four started with a tail amputation on a hunting dog. This was then followed by a very difficult appointment with a very aggressive dog who needed a higher dose of seditative. The afternoon then involved deadling with a few nasty wounds, a spaniel with a sore paw, as well as some cats with itchy ears and of course Packer, who was back for his usual visit to have his bite wounds flushed and his intravenous antibiotics administered.
On the final day Packer came in to have his chest wound to be debrided and resutured. This commonly occurs in dog bite wounds. It will be interesting to see how heals over the next few weeks. On a other note, the local taxi driver brought in his goat who was just 10 days old and was limping. After several injections and a bit of TLC he was sent home feeling much better. It's been an interesting week and we are sad that it's over already!