Akumal Spay Clinic: Kids Help Advise Vets Where to Knock

Akumal - "Place of the Turtles"

Two weeks ago, we were invited to participate in a Free Spay and Neuter campaign at Akumal, little town located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Akumal meaning “Place of the turtles” in Mayan.

This is a favorite spot for sea turtles to lay their eggs and to feed from seagrass. There is a permanent program for protection, conservation, research and management of sea turtles that Centro Ecologico Akumal has been doing since 1993.

Akumal is a small town, population is about 1,200 habitants. Their income depends entirely on the tourism. It is a beautiful place to stay, eat, relax and of course do snorkel where you can find yourself swimming next to a sea turtle and some other beautiful sea creatures.

Jennifer Smith who owns the nicest restaurant there: Turtle Bay Café & Bakery has been organizing the campaigns with the sponsorship of private donations which are used to buy the materials and medications needed.

When the piggy has enough money she will call Dr. Sandra Valdez who will ask vet friends to donate their time for a weekend, she will buy the supplies needed and organize everything. This allows them to run a free spay campaign in a community, focused to owners who otherwise couldn’t be able to afford it.

This time the place was Akumal, so everything was set up at a public school, four classrooms were used, one for registration, another as the operating room, another one for recovery and last one for refreshments and lunch, have to say that food was delicious, of course donated by Jennifer. People who own holiday properties provided accommodation for the veterinarians, who will found themselves pampered after the surgeries done along the day.

Every time that is possible, the International Fund for Animal Welfare collaborates with other groups to share medical expertise and the collective efforts help to make this small campaigns part of a broader continuing work to humanely control dog and cat population and promote responsible ownership.

In two days, a team of nine veterinarians (from the Humane Society of Cozumel, Coco’s cat rescue, Isla Animals, and private practices) and about 12 volunteers accomplished 75 surgeries, no complications along the way.

Part of the job was also to go to the houses and tell the people we were doing a free campaign, many people already had fixed their animals from previous campaigns, but others hadn’t. People always will hesitate about whether take their animals or not, once they are told everything went fine with the other’s dogs and cats, they will come bringing theirs.

Children were amazing, they had fun driving in the back of the truck with the vets, saying which way to drive, they would advice who people’s doors to knock and sometimes they would convince their neighbors and friends that it was ok to have their animals spayed.

Having a good time, working with friends, getting to meet great people and making a difference in such a small and needed community leaves you with the greatest feeling!

-- EF

For more information on the International Fund for Animal Welfare effort to save animals in crisis around the world, visit https://ifaw.org

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