Why switch from bathing suits to sweat shirts???
The Canadian Animal Assistance Team (CAAT) journeyed to Northwestern British Columbia this past June to provide veterinary services to animals in two First Nations communities. A team of Ontario and BC technicians, veterinarians and assistants worked together for 3 days and then 4 days in two different communities to help those who could not access veterinary care. Laura Sutton, an Ontario native and one of the veteran Team Leaders for CAAT projects, guided the team through the journey and wrote about her experience…
As I was packing to get ready for the CAAT trip to two different communities in Northwestern BC, Fort St. James and Hazelton, I stopped and asked myself what I was thinking when I signed up. I'm currently living and working in Bermuda, so early June meant summer was in full swing, flip flops and bikinis are a daily thing. And here I was, packing long pants, a sweatshirt and socks alongside my scrubs to survive early spring in BC. Why do I do this?
The first part of our trip took us to Fort St James. This is CAAT's second visit to this community and they were ready and waiting for us. Team FSJ 2015 was ready to get started. The first morning of any CAAT trip is always entertaining. The is a super-steep learning curve for our new members and all of the community members who show up to volunteer their time, some pressure as our team members are still getting to know each other and figure out the work flow, but by lunchtime we were a well oiled machine! There is always a mix of new volunteers and CAAT veterans on trips, which makes sure that everyone understands the protocols and procedures, and there is always a second (or third) pair of hands around when needed. By the end of our three days in the Fort, we had 116 cats and dogs spayed or neutered and vaccinated!
Now we had to tear down our clinic, pack it all up and find a way to fit it all in the vehicles to head west - we were on our way to Hazelton. We worked steadily in Hazelton and when all was said and done, we managed to spay or neuter 166 dogs and cats! That made a total of 288 animals sterilized!! What a success and what a difference this will make in these two communities!
The end of a project is always bittersweet. It's nice to go home, you know what a huge difference you've just made for that community and the people and pets in it, but it is sad to leave. You've made some awesome new friends, some of who will last a lifetime, and it's sad to say goodbye.
So, to answer my own question, I do this for many reasons. To help the animals and the communities we visit. To meet new people and learn new things. To make some amazing friendships and to share my love of what we are able to accomplish as the Canadian Animal Assistance Team.
These projects take a great deal of fundraising and organization. The ability to fly our team members in to communities that are remote and in need of assistance is thanks to our Aeroplan supporters. Thank you to everyone who helps us help the animals.