January - June 2003
BEACH DOG BONANZA
At last, some good news about the beach dogs!
In June, after much planning and negotiations, we took a vet, vet nurse and dog handler to The Gambia to neuter as many beach dogs as we could cope with. In 7 days the total number of dogs neutered, microchipped and ear notched as a result was 22 - 11 females and 11 males. We actually caught 25 dogs but found 2 females and 1 male had already been neutered at an earlier time, probably by some concerned tourists. This demonstrated the need for an identification procedure for neutered dogs. (An additional 4 cats were also neutered).
The Team - Carl & Alison, Dodou, Sue and Suzanne
Preparations for the trip began in February when GambiCats put forward the Beach Dog Programme proposal to the Gambia Tourist Authority (GTA) in The Gambia and the UK. The proposal was to neuter as many beach dogs at a site near the beach, identify them by microchipping, photographs and a notch in the left ear, give anti rabies injection and release them. The GTA were supportive and we then had an offer from the Kombo Hotel to use 2 of their rooms while the hotel was being refurbished. This was vital to the success of the proposal as the beach dogs would be within walking distance of the 'surgery' and sedation would not be complicated by the need to transport them any distance.
We were very fortunate in finding a volunteer vet (Sue) and vet nurse (Suzanne) who were adventurous enough to want to be involved. Our first meetings were quite amusing. Sue and I bumped into each other in the dusty wastes behind Kings Cross Station on our way to meet up at the RVC Beaumont Clinic. Suzanne met us at a local Welsh pub where we spent the lunch sorting the various veterinary instruments donated to GambiCats to see which we should take on this trip.
In view of the difficulty experienced when catching beach dogs we were also very lucky that dog handler Carl Howman, who has taken part in previous GambiCats' programmes, was also willing and available to help.
We had to obtain the permission of the Gambian Veterinary Association to carry out the Programme under the supervision of a registered Gambian vet - in this case Dr Ceesay who has been our main vet looking after the hotel cats. The Department of Livestock Services (DLS) who are responsible for dog control also had to give their approval.
We requested help from the Gambia Hotel Association to find a site for operations at the Senegambia end of the beach but unfortunately none was offered and only 3 of the dogs there could be helped on this visit.
Foday & Lamin with sedated dog to be returned to Senegambia area
Finally, with all permissions safely obtained, help was sought from other organisations to assist with funding and the supplies ordered. These included folding cages (for post-operative recuperation), the microchipping equipment, drugs, instruments, leads, muzzles, a cautery set, an instant camera and Drontal tablets. Luckily we already had an autoclave and scales in The Gambia and our advisor, Dr Bakary Touray lent us his Kruuse cradle to support the dogs during surgery.
So, on June 3rd, we set off with some 50kg of excess baggage from Gatwick on 3rd June (delayed by the French air traffic controllers' strike), checked our luggage through UK and Gambian customs and settled into Bungalow Beach hotel next to the Kombo hotel. We met up with Dr Ceesay, Dodou and the GambiCats' assistants and Foday Camara, a dog handler from the DLS. All had been making preparations for the Programme in advance of our arrival.
The next day we set up the operating theatre and recuperation facility in the same 2 rooms that we had used in 1998 on our first trip to neuter the cats at Kombo and Fajara hotels! Even the faithful head Housekeeper, Hadi, was there to look after us and organise cleaning the rooms each day. A good omen indeed.
At last, on Thursday 5th June, we started to bring in the dogs and establish a pattern of working. Many were not difficult until a lead had to be put on and a muzzle to give the sedative injection. This was where the skills of Carl and Foday came in. Instant photos were then taken before Sue and Suzanne carried out the operations, gave the anti rabies injection, inserted the microchip and cut a square notch in the left ear with the help of the cautery set. The dogs recovered in the cages for however long they needed and were then released.
Our progress was limited by the number of cages available for recuperation as well as the time taken to find and bring in the dogs but we estimated that we had caught all but 2 or 3 on the stretch of the beach betwen Palm Beach hotel and the Leybato by the end of our stay.
As always, there were surprises. Following a football match between The Gambia and Senegal there were some riots around Serekunda and we were advised to stay in the hotel and 'keep a low profile' for part of the weekend. On a happier note we were invited to celebrate the Official Birthday of the Queen at the British High Commission!
On Thursday 12 June, after 3 final operations, we dismantled the surgery and sorted out the remaining supplies for the DLS. This was completed on Friday morning before leaving for the return flight home.
There will now be a register of the dogs neutered including their microchip numbers and photos, and a microchip readers left with Dodou and with Dr Ceesay. We hope in future the square notch in the left ear will become a widely recognised sign that the dog has been neutered and vaccinated (similar to the left ear tip of neutered cats). Further proof will be possible by reading the microchip. This should prevent female dogs being mistakenly caught for neutering in the future; and help identify new dogs needing to be neutered. Copies of the enclosed leaflet were distributed as widely as possible to publicize the programme.
Our grateful thanks to all the team who worked so hard, to those who supported the Programme both here and in The Gambia and especially to Dodou who had to juggle the on-going care of the cats as well as this new Programme and to cope with the day-to-day problems of Gambian life. We would also like to thank the Battersea Dogs Home, Bayer, the Mayhew Home, the Beaumont Animals' Hospital, The Gambia Experience, WSPA, the NCDL, Pettrac, and, as always, SPANA, for all their generosity.
DESPITE THE GENEROUS SUPPORT FROM MANY SOURCES FOR THE BEACH DOG PROGRAMME WE ARE IN DESPERATE NEED OF DONATIONS TO HELP REPLACE THE FUNDS SPENT BY GambiCats.
NEW MEMBERS OF GambiCats
We are very pleased to welcome the Scala Restaurant and the Tropic Garden as new members of GambiCats. This bring the number of sites being monitored to 35.
CATS GO HUNGRY DURING SUMMER MONTHS
This year many more hotels were closed and those open in June were like ghost towns. As a result we are trying to feed cats around the Kombo area as all hotels are closed there except for Bungalow Beach. This is in addition to the Palma Rima, Mariatou and Fajara.
ONCE AGAIN THE CATS ARE RELYING ON US FOR AT LEAST ONE MEAL A DAY - PLEASE HELP
BEWARE OF THE REPTILE FARM!
Our attention has been brought to the Reptile Farm operating in the south near Gunjur and Kartung. A visitor reports seeing live kittens in the snake pit and being told by various sources that the owner, a French man, uses kittens and puppies as live food. We have not been able to check out the story ourselves but would draw your attention to it and hope that any evidence will be given to your tour reps and company, as well as the Gambian Wildlife Department at Abuko.
INFORMATION ABOUT GambiCats
Established as a registered charity in the UK in 1999 Number 1074870
|Trustees:||Frances Miller, Peter Miller, Margaret Uppal|
|Address:||Parc Llwyd, Aberporth, Cardigan, SA43 2DU, UK|
|tel:||(00 44) 01239 810595|
|fax:||(00 44) 01239 811193|
|In The Gambia:|
|Coordinator:||Dodou F Bojang|
|Address:||PO Box 2874 Serekunda,|
|tel:||00 220 9900756
00 220 4462184
|Assistants:||Amadou Fatty, Alaji Ndong, Lamin Bojang|
If you would like more information about us please complete
the form below & return it to:
GambiCats Parc Llwyd, Aberporth, Cardigan, SA43 2DU, UK
tel: (00 44) 01239 810595 fax: (00 44) 01239 811193
YES I WOULD LIKE TO HELP GambiCats
I enclose a donation of ............
Please send more information
REGISTERED CHARITY NO 1074870