Kittens in a Cereal Box and More!

The Jaltemba Bay Animal Rescue spay and neuter clinic held in Guayabitos this past week was again a coming together of volunteers both Mexican and expats, pets and strays, friends and food. We have compiled stories and photos submitted by Donna Steensma, Tosia Archer, Rob Erickson, Nora Dixon and Nancy Wilson, who volunteered in various areas of this clinic. Note: There are a few photos of before and during surgery in case you are squeamish.

by Donna Steensma

Donna, who volunteers at the reception and discharge area for the JBAR spay and neuter clinic, took the cute photo shown above. She says, “Diaper bags, potato sacs, boxes, sweaters, cages, crates, grocery bags and bird cages are just a few of the items that are used to bring cats and kittens into the clinic. This is the first Corn Flakes Cereal box though that has come in, with two little kittens…”

Donna writes further – The past few clinics I have helped Allyson at the registration desk. Every year, there are more people arriving an hour before we open, and are willing to wait in line to have their animals spayed and neutered. This also shows a great deal of progress.

On the third day of the clinic we were surprised to see the first 6 dogs that were registered were brought in by men. Some dogs were male and some female. This may not sound like much, but 6 years ago, we never would have seen this. It is very cultural that Mexican men like their dogs “intact.” This is exciting to me, because it means we are changing the thought process in the community, as to how to treat their animals . Every year we have more and more Mexican men (also Mexican women) that volunteer.

I have been a volunteer with this organization for the past 6 years. The first clinic that I helped with was at Brian and Carole Francouer’s home in La Peñita. This was the first year that my husband George and I were able to spend our winter here. We did not know a lot of people when we arrived. We met people there that were “like minded” and wanted to help the animals and educate the community about spay and neutering their animals, and the reasons for it. That week was the beginning of friendships here that we might not have had, without the clinic.”

by Tosia Archer

With two very experienced vet techs (Nancy and Kamala) helping out in the pre-surgery assessment room, where I am usually stationed, I was able to spend some time taking photos of the various areas where volunteers are kept busy. But first I must give a big thank you to Sue and Del Moss for hosting this JBAR clinic. It is very much appreciated being able to have an enclosed yard and such lovely surroundings for the clinic.


Wednesday morning there was an orientation for the volunteers in the recovery area.


Claudia, a volunteer from Victoria BC (along with her husband Tim and son Emiliano) kept an eye, ear and thermometer on recovering cats.


PEACE Mexico assistant Hector and dedicated volunteer Hudd at the pre-op station which is where animals are anesthetized, shaved in the appropriate spot, injected with an antibiotic and pain medication. Dogs are intubated for breathing and have a catheter placed in a front leg vein, and cats eyes are taped to keep them closed.


Many hands keep the clinic moving! The recovery area was located under a shady Jaca tree.


Mateja and Tosia doing their best to keep Mateja’s chihuahua “Papi Americano” calm (and quiet!)


Lalo, the PEACE Mexico team leader, happily looks on as Dr. Aldo Barba, one of our local veterinarians who volunteers his time and skills here at the JBAR clinic, performs a neuter surgery.


Dr. Anthony is the head surgeon for the PEACE Mexico team.


Canadian veterinarian Dr. Deborah and her husband Josh, along with Technician Nancy at a surgical table that is raised up on bricks to bring it to a comfortable height for operating.

During the last few clinics it has become a tradition of sorts for a group of volunteers to make aguachile with camarones (shrimp) as it symbolizes the friendship and teamwork that has evolved over the years from participating in these clinics. Salud mis amigos!


Dr. Poly using a molcajete to grind the very small but very potent chiles that were set aside for the use of those who can deal with the heat! At other times one sees him administering the anesthetics and also operating.

by Rob Erickson

We just wrapped up another successful spay neuter clinic at Sue and Del Moss’s Hacienda del Mar in the Zona Residencial in Rincón de Guayabitos. With a total of 221 animals seen by the vet teams, it was not a record though everything went very smoothly.

I was fortunate to move into the surgery area a few years ago, and the talent of our Mexican and Canadian vets never ceases to amaze me. We also experienced three special surgery cases at this clinic. One dog had broken a rear leg some time ago, and the home-sewing job and splint just didn’t allow for an adequate recovery. Dr Malcolm Macartney manufactured a padded wire splint to help the recovery process. Another dog had unfortunately got in the way of piña-cutting machete a few years ago and had almost lost her nose and upper jaw. With a stainless steel rod and layers of sutures, the vet team managed to sew the nose and jaw back into place. This was certainly a surgery many of us have never seen before.

Another dog had almost completely lost his right eye in a fight. After a neuter surgery, he also underwent surgery to remove the right eye. Hopefully, these two surgeries will take him out of the prize fighter pool!


Dr. Malcolm performing a spay surgery on a cat.

As for the condition of clinic animals overall, we all commented on the lower count of fleas, ticks and skin disorders as compared to past clinics. We will always see fleas, ticks and mange, though these numbers are certainly dropping as we see more family pets admitted to the clinics. We also noticed a larger percentage of male animals and a larger number of cats arriving at the clinic from family homes. Maybe many homes are realizing that getting your male dog neutered will encourage him to stay around home as a watch-dog, and discourage him from prowling the streets instead. This change in attitude for dogs and cats as family pets, or rather recognizing them as family members, is a welcome change.

by Nora Dixon

So there we stand in our hot pink aprons, fully armed with our two dishpans and an assortment of toothbrushes, ready to get to work. We are the “Sterilization” squad. Don’t get the wrong idea… we don’t sterilize animals, we sterilize surgical tools. There’s a whole new vocabulary for those of us not familiar with surgery, but in a pinch we just refer to some as “thingys.” We pre-wash and scrub them all with our toothbrushes, rinse them, then place them in “frio,” a pretty pink liquid which eliminates all the nasty bacteria. When not busy with that, we pack gauze pads into autoclave pouches so they too will be fully sterilized. Depending on the location of the clinic, we sometimes launder the towels and sheets that are used during and after surgery. We are told we are a very important part of the clinic, even though we are small in number and usually situated out of the limelight. However, we have a great vantage point to watch all that is going on around us.


The Pink Apron, though this is not Nora wearing it!

We are but a few feet from the vets, so we can watch (from a distance) as they stand for hours on end, carefully tending to the needs of the animals on their operating tables. The majority of the cases are sterilizations, but there’s the occasional surgery that catches the attention of many… the cat with skin cancer, the dog who lost its latest street fight.

We can also see the recovery area, where countless volunteers look after the animals as they wake from the anesthesia. They gently massage them, make sure they’re warm enough, check their vitals, and groom those that are in need. This is a labour of love.

When we drop off the trach tubes at the anesthesiologist’s station, we see the animals being prepped for surgery, and those volunteers who sit with the “next in line,” keeping them calm, and noting any problems.

We’re also pretty close to the seemingly bottomless supply of food and snacks, which is a real bonus for us.

The only area we don’t really see is the intake area, but we know the volunteers there are doing an incredibly efficient job. We see each animal accompanied by a very important piece of paper, expertly filled in at the reception area, which ensures they get returned to the right family at the end of the day.

Dealing with this number of animals in such a short time could easily evolve into an “‘assembly line” mentality, but what’s impressive, is the gentle way that every animal is handled. Volunteers and professionals alike work side by side, in an unassuming way. Everyone has a job to do, and everyone does their part to ensure that each animal receives nothing less than the best of care.

by Nancy Wilson

Wow! The whole JBAR experience has been spectacular! I can’t tell you how excited I was when I got the okay to come to Mexico for two spay and neuter clinics. The opportunity to help animals in the Jaltemba Bay area was more than I could hope for. I feel completely at home here being around like minded people. Everyone involved in this organization is beyond wonderful. I am amazed with the different personalities that everyone can come together for a common goal. This trip is my first time working with JBAR and I was not sure what to expect. I wasn’t even sure my presence would make a difference. As an Animal Health Technician I have an obvious love for animals but being part of JBAR has opened my heart even more. I am so grateful for the opportunity to help these animals, I know my small roll has made a difference for them. I have especially become attached to “Mojo” my grooming project. His coat was in very bad condition, extremely matted and loaded with ticks. Mojo was in a great deal of pain and very dull in personality. Now, he is full of spunk and a very, very happy puppy. The bounce in his step and the wag of his tail is all the thanks I need from my little pal. Thank you JBAR!


Nancy showing off Mojo’s new look.

These stories and photos were submitted from some of our regular contributors. If you want to join in the fun and share your stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to Tosia@JaltembaBayLife.com 

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4 Reviews on “Kittens in a Cereal Box and More!”

  1. :

    I am coming down December 11 and will be with you till January 13. i would like to meet you folks and maybe help out a little bit

  2. :

    We have been coming to Rincon and La Penita for the last 12 years and what a difference in the number of wild dogs running on the beach and in the street all matted and sick looking. The Jaltemba Bay Animal Rescue program have made a tremendous difference. Merci beaucoup

  3. :

    Well done! Such a great program and very needed. The expertise in the room is overwhelming and I would highly recommend that folks volunteer if they are able. As we are not there this year we are doing our part "spreading the word" about the program, back in Canada. Keep up the good work!! Marg McConnell and Drew Burgess

  4. :

    Seeing and reading this blog sure helps us to understand the hard work you volunteers do which all comes from your hearts for the love of animals. We are proud of you Nancy and glad to see Mojo doing well, love Mom & Dad

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