Saga Rabies Clinic a success!

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 12, No. 47            December 5, 2002

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A total of 73 dogs and four cats were vaccinated against rabies last Saturday at the first Saga Humane Society Rabies Clinic. Rabies is an acute, infectious, often fatal viral disease of the central nervous system transmitted by the bite of an infected animal. Although rabies cases are rare in Belize, they do occur, and preventative measures are needed to avoid outbreaks.

    The Pan American and World Health Organizations (PAHO/WHO) through the Ministry of Health provided the rabies vaccine. Saga Humane Society volunteers and local health inspector Javier Alpuche assisted with the clinic while the island's temporary veterinarian Dr. Sheila Schmeling of Corozal performed the vaccinations. Unfortunately, approximately a dozen puppies were turned away for vaccinations because they were too young. Puppies and kittens cannot be given rabies vaccination until they are at least twelve weeks of age. It was suggested that a mobile clinic be conducted sometime in January to vaccinate these animals and for other pets that were unable to attend Saturday's clinic. This issue will be addressed at Saga's monthly meeting on Thursday.

    Several Saga directors and volunteers assisted with the many tasks associated with the day's other activities, which included selling T-shirts and other miscellaneous items, distributing educational information and free pet products and a "Get What You Want!" raffle. Participants in this raffle were allowed to place their tickets inside a box beside the item of their choice and a number of wonderful prizes were given. Raffle items were generously donated by Caliente, Amigos del Mar Dive Shop, Isla Bonita Designs, Tropical Touch Massage & Day Spa, Casa Picasso, Leslie Soukup Yoga, PepperOni's Pizza, Gecko Graphics, SailSports Belize, Mark Soukup Wood Art, Sausage Factory, Caye Caulker Water Taxi, Valley Ruddick, and Dj Vu Glassworks. In its ongoing efforts to reduce the stray animal population on the island, Saga Humane Society also donated a free spay or neuter for the raffle.

    Through this medium, the Society would like to thank all the wonderful people who contributed the aforementioned prizes as well as the following sponsors of this first-ever Rabies Clinic: Reef Radio, Coral Cable Vision, The San Pedro Sun, the San Pedro Lions Club and San Pedro Distributors. Also many thanks to these volunteers for all their assistance and hard work: Judy Schriner, Mary Hawthorne, Kathy Marin, Marie Carroll, Phil Rigby, Sam Foster, Valley Ruddick, Denise Soukup, Tim Callanan, Nicholas Acosta, Linda Hiller and "Reds" Lara. Thanks also to the many pet owners who participated in this opportunity to vaccinate their animals, as well as Dr. Sheila Schmeling, Inspector Javier Alpuche, PAHO/WHO and the Ministry of Health, for their efforts to make our animals healthier and our island a safer destination.

    Saga Humane Society is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to the health and welfare of the island's animals. Saga operates solely on the donations and contributions of others to support their efforts "to promote kindness and prevent cruelty to animals." Anyone wishing to donate money or supplies, or volunteer their services may contact Saga Humane Society at 226-3266.
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