After our dog, Ka’cyenda, had her puppies we performed a pilot campaign for our dog project. We developed a program called K9HE (Canine Health & Education), which provides information about dogs to Rwandans, and also provides resources for spaying, neutering, and vaccinating dogs in the village. This was a small scale test of what will be a full-blown spay/neuter campaign in October.
Veterinary science in the developing world is totally different than in America. People don’t bring their pets to the vet in nice carriers. We have to go to them and get their dogs. Also, there are not clear distinctions between pet dogs, wild dogs, and stray dogs.
One family has a dog named Boby, but they can’t afford to feed him. Boby wonders around their property freely, and scavenges for his own food. They wanted us to neuter him, but first we had to catch him, muzzle him, and inject him with a sedative. We didn’t have a noose on a stick like in America, or a tranquilizer gun, or any other means of keeping our distance. All we had was a fabric muzzle and our bare hands.
I coaxed the dog to me with food, walked around behind the dog, and then quickly slipped the muzzle over his face. It Velcros in the back, but if it didn’t secure properly, the muzzle would come off. I would have probably been bitten, and then getting the dog to approach me again would have been impossible. I got it on him, and then I held him down while the vet injected him. He was very upset and scared, so he tried to bite me, but the muzzle wouldn’t allow it. It was one of those unique Peace Corps moments when I thought, I’m an art teacher. Why am I wrestling with an angry dog in the middle of nowhere?
Well, we set up a table right there outside the owners’ house and our vet neutered him. The surgery went well, and now Boby is a much healthier and happier dog.
After we neutered Boby and vaccinated several other dogs, the vet came back to our house and spayed Ka’cyenda in our living room.
In October, three veterinarians are coming to Rubengera from America, and they will bring better materials for dealing with dogs. We will spay and neuter many more dogs then.
If you want more information about this project, you may visit: