May 12th, 2013
After months and months of trying to find a cheap place to get the family cat neutered, Addy and I responded to a newspaper clipping advertising a free sterilization day that was being sponsored by Swaziland Animal Welfare Society (SAWS), Swaziland Government Veterinary services and local private vets, and all being funded by an insurance company from South Africa. Can’t get much cheaper than free, so we made an appointment to see what it was all about.
Addy and Ryan’s Host Dad owns a car so he loaded them and their female dog (who has had 16 puppies in the last year) and my cat and I up, and we set off at dawn to the center of the country. We ended up at an elementary school where makeshift surgery and recovery rooms had been prepared in the classrooms. With about 40 other dogs and their owners, we waited in a field from 7:30am until 3:30pm before they called our numbers.
They could operate on several animals at a time and since it was in a classroom, we could stand outside and watch from the windows. Both my cat and Addy’s dog did great, and recovered just fine. We got to sit in the recovery room as the animals woke up and helped out with the rest of the volunteers who were there. We were the only white people not volunteering at the event so we kept getting asked to do things by mistake, but we helped anyways.
The day was long, but a really sweet deal. All for free we got our animals fixed, de-wormed, treated with tick and flea medication, and got their annual vaccinations. And in true Swazi fashion the event included lunch and a tea break. Nothing is really free here unless food comes with it.
Overall, this event was awesome. It was the first of its kind here and much needed. Animal welfare isn’t a priority here, stray animals are abundant, and malnourished animals are the norm. By providing this service, the vets were also allowed to talk with owners and educate them. They were really prepared with information for all ages. It was nice to see so many people show up to have their animals taken care of, it shows that if available people really do want proper care for their animals, its just not accessible in these rural areas.