We currently have two important veterinary clinics in San Pedro, Belize. And one of them is in trouble.
One is the wonderful SAGA Humane Society which was founded in 1999 when there was NO care for animals on Ambergris Caye. They work tirelessly on a myriad of issues. From affordable pet care, education at the school, spay & neutering free clinics, dog & cat sheltering and adoptions, rounding up strays…the list goes on. All on fundraising by the board and donations from supporters.
An amazing AMAZING crew but one that is seriously stretched. They work with Dr. Baptiste, a fantastic Belizean veterinary doctor, but he has a ton going on. He has his own clinic outside of Belmopan, he works with the Hopkins Humane Society and others around the country.
He is available at the SAGA San Pedro Clinic 3 days a week. Tuesday to Thursday.
We also have the San Pedro Animal Hospital – which has been in existence for about 6 years. It is a “private clinic” with the current vet – Dr. Trish from Canada. SPAH is open 5 days a week and available (when possible) 24 hours a day for emergencies.
They are an animal hospital, not a shelter and do some different things than SAGA – like bathing and grooming and in-house lab work (with blood or skin scrapings). SPAH also has some different types of medication and ways of giving & monitoring anesthesia.
BOTH CLINICS PERFORM IMPORTANT FUNCTIONS ON THE ISLAND.
But quickly…let me tell you about my dog Elsie. You MAY have heard her mentioned in this blog before…but she is a perfect example of how a Belize Humane Society and the San Pedro Animal Hospital (SPAH) can compliment each other.
And while I will be tempted to wax poetic about Elsie the wonder dog – her mild. forgiving and loving personality and her gorgeous bovine looks…I’ll TRY to keep it short.
Elsie, last week. Happy and secure and comfortable and in about 1000x better shape than when she was found last October.
While out in Dangriga, locating and picking up strays and pets for veterinary care, we came upon “Domino”.
She was in horrifying shape, oozing gaping sores, cut ears, filthy…I won’t go on. But her tail was wagging…so happy to see us and SHE NEEDED HELP.
Jason, a volunteer with the HBHS put it beautifully – “Her name is domino and all she does is love.
We picked this girl up while out on a round up mission for a spay/neuter clinic at #hbhs. Her former owner was trying to kill her by means of starvation and luckily for domino, her neighor intervened. While her rescuers intentions were pure, their circumstances were unforgiving and we were approached by the people that were caring for Domino with pleas for assistance. We took her in to be spayed and returned but decided she would be better served under our care . She will be placed in a home that reciprocates her endless waves of love and humility. But first……we will rehab her for a few weeks with massages, walks, quality food and a lot of love.”
Over the next month, Jason and his wife Carol Ann cared for “Domino” – fed her, walked her, bathed her…while we all looked for a home for this deserving girl.
One month later, the couple and I drove up to Belize City, water taxied to San Pedro and boated up to Rojo Beach Bar/Azul and her new owner Jeff. Jeff didn’t know (until later that week) that he was meeting one of the great loves of his life.
She was renamed Elsie. I mean LOOK AT HER!
And over the next few months, she put on weight but her back leg had a large wound that just didn’t seem to get better.
Dr Trish at SPAH saw her often, treated it and later, suggested amputation. This DEEP bone infection, that had been there for years, was hurting her. Really hurting her. And the leg was just a burden that was preventing her whole body from healing.
Still the decision was hard. SO hard.
They did a fantastic job.
LET ME GET TO THE POINT! Access to health care is a significant deciding factor for people either moving abroad or visiting here long term… both for people AND their pets. It’s incredibly important to the island and the current residents.
We have taken a huge (and ridiculously LONG OVERDUE) step forward with 24 hour care for humans HUMANS! at the San Pedro Polyclinic – something SO CRITICAL to this island.
But now our 24 hour health care for our pets, something that is currently in place, is at risk. Let’s not take a step backwards.
We received this email from SPAH last week:
As many of you know due to difficulties in obtaining permits and licenses from the Veterinary Board and BAHA, the San Pedro Animal Hospital will be closing at the end of this year. For 6 years we have provided medical and surgical care, as well as emergency care for the animals of Ambergris Caye. As well, thanks to the San Pedro Animal Foundation we have spayed and neutered pets from San Pedro’s poorest neighborhoods, and provided emergency care to animals who otherwise would have been euthanized due to lack of funds.
We are asking that those who are able, to write to the following individuals offering support for the San Pedro Animal Hospital. We are hoping to be able to resolve these issues, and continue to offer services to the animals of San Pedro.
Veterinary Board of Belize: email@example.com
Dr. DePaz: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Gongora: email@example.com
Dr. Chimilio: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Crawford: email@example.com
Dr. Paquet-Durand: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Myers: email@example.com
Please help them to keep their hospital open. An email or 8…a talk with our mayor…or anyone that you know of influence…there is MORE than enough room for two clinics working together.
It took two to save Elsie.
I absolutely do not want to get involved in who was wronged in the past…or the politics and personalities of this whole matter…it was a MESS 6 years ago and I’m sure you can find 1000 “he said, she said” versions of the story…but I do want consistent reliable medical care for my pets. And the pets of the island.
And as a follow up to this article, I plan to talk to the SAGA board when I return to the island. I KNOW they have plans for a new clinic and probably much much more.
I will fill you in.
Thank you from Elsie, me and my three cats, Poochie (age 18+), Pupusa (7 – below) and Rita (a SAGA kitty, age 5)