Once again PAWS was delighted that Charmaine Cook and Lisa Paszek wanted to volunteer on Paxos. This time they were joined by new volunteer Megan Bucholz. Despite the difficuties posed by off season travel, they all got on extremely well and did an amazing job. We sincerely hope that they all return in 2024.
A huge thank you to the team and to all the volunteers that help catch cats, in particluar Di, Faye & Hara.
As a newcomer, Megan very kindly offered to send in a report.......see below.
This has been my first opportunity to volunteer as a veterinary nurse with PAWS charity that helps neuter as well as offer health care to the cats based on the Greek island of Paxos.
Paxos has a large semi feral/stray cat population and I can certainly see why charities such as PAWS are needed to help control the population as well as help sick and injured animals.
I had no idea what to expect having never been there or worked with any of the volunteers, but having done similar volunteer work with other countries I knew we were there to help improve standards of care through neutering.
Our first day was an hour ferry ride from Corfu to the island and a short car ride from there to the clinic to get started. A hire car is provided for us for the entirety of our stay which was a lovely perk allowing us to explore the hidden corners of the island in our free time and of course getting us to the clinic, to our accommodation and back again!
First impressions were how amazing the facilities were from having a fully functioning anaesthetic machine with an oxygen generator, an autoclave for ensuring we could safely sterilise the instruments being used.
The amazing volunteers including Di, Faye and Hara would spend a lot of time out on the island trapping cats for us. We would then safely transfer them to crush cages so they could be anaesthetised and prepared for surgery.
The cats are provided with adequate sedation and pain relief to allow the vet Charmaine to perform surgery while myself and Lisa, a fellow veterinary nurse would take it in turns monitoring or preparing the next patient for surgery.
All cats are ear tipped so once fully recovered can be safely released back and identified as neutered so they are not trapped again.
As well as neutering we would provide other health care such as removing rotting and broken teeth (our vet Charmaine LOVES her dentals) or ear tipping for cats suffering from cancer.
For one patient, we even placed a makeshift dressing on after finding out he had fractured his leg! Did not last very long as cats can be quite temperamental with leg bandages! However the story had a happy ending as the cat was friendly and the family who brought him in kindly offered to adopt him as he needed to be cage rested while the fracture heals.
There were not always happy endings as sometimes the cats caught and brought to us were beyond help and the kindest thing to do is humanely put them to sleep. The opportunity to end the animals suffering is always some consolation in these moments.
After a hard day’s work we would usually head to one of the local beaches or areas of natural beauty to unwind and take in the sunset, then it would be time to head out for a lovely meal with so many great restaurants to choose from!
We would the head back to our lovely apartment provided by PAWS for some much needed sleep! The accommodation was amazing with a lovely view of the Gaios harbour where you could watch the sun rise if you were an early bird (Charmaine). The resident garden cat Domino would always welcome us and ask for cuddles and titbits.
With all our hard work and the help of the volunteers we managed to neuter over 109 cats! What an achievement for only 2 weeks on the island. We are looking forward to trying to break that record next year if we can!
I am so glad I had the chance to volunteer for this amazing charity working very hard to make a difference on the island. The condition of the cats is testament to the hard work of the charity over the years and I want to say a special thank you to Lindsay for giving me this wonderful opportunity.