On Friday, Kel had told us about the vet clinic she was helping run this weekend. With the lack of veterinarians and abundance of strays on Bimini, the vet clinic that happens 3-4 times a year is extremely helpful for the animals on the island. Since I had gotten a lot of work done on Saturday, I decided to spend a few hours volunteering with Kel on Sunday. Nat decided to sit this one out since she isn’t great around blood and was still getting through the video logs. So, Sunday morning I woke up early and went to Kel’s house to pop in some much needed laundry before helping her set up the clinic for the day.
We opened the clinics doors and I was able to first meet the amazing family that was letting us use their space for the weekend. I then met Dr. Grant, a veterinarian who comes in from Nassau to help out, and the other volunteers, including four girls from Bimini Sharklab.
Kel and I were then sent on a mission to Bailey Town to pick up a dog that needed to be neutered. After twenty minutes of sweet-talking and many treats later, we were still unable to convince the dog to get into the golf cart. We talked with the owner, and decided that he should start training the dog to be comfortable in a crate so when the next clinic happened, Kel could just pickup the dog in the kennel. However, a few of the neighbors brought another dog to our attention. The sweetest dog-named Brewster jumped up to greet us, and we immediately noticed something was wrong with his ears as he kept shaking his head – and abruptly stopping. With just a few treats and a minute of pets, Brewster was easy to convince to get in the cart and we were on our way.
As we waited for Brewster’s turn to see Dr. Grant about a possible neuter and ear exam, I sat with him on the floor. He was anxious at first but we bonded quickly, so he cuddled up into me and fell asleep. After Dr. Grant came out and sedated him, I ended up talking to two of the Sharklab volunteers. One of them was in grad school researching the effects of shark nets and the other wanted to go into conservation policy change in D.C. While they were both a few years older than me, we all had a similar passion of ocean conservation and education, and it was very inspiring to hear them talk about the various paths they wanted to take.
I helped carry Brewster into the vets “office” (a kitchen table) for Dr. Grant to begin the initial exam. The blood draw confirmed what we had already suspected – Brewster had terrible heartworms. This on top of his older age meant it was very risky to proceed with surgery (I may have started crying here). So while he was still sedated, we were able to clean out his ears and get a few ticks off him before carrying him back to the porch floor.
Kel then explained to me the many problems with dogs in Bimini. Dogs get heartworms through mosquito bites. Without proper preventative medical care, it is very likely that many of the dogs here will get heartworms. With many of the dogs being strays as well, no one is looking out for them to make sure they are getting these medications. When Kel first came to Bimini, the stray population was extremely high, however after many volunteer veterinarians coming in for pop-up clinics to help spay and neuter strays – it has decreased and been maintained pretty well.
After the last few patients came and left, we brought Brewster home and were able to give his owners some ointment to help his ears. I then went home, and met up with Nat for some work and lunch.
Later that night, Nat and I realized that our water jug was extremely low, and thankfully Kel was still up and we could go fill it at her house (and get a ride back on the golf cart).
While sitting in Kel’s living room waiting for the water jug to fill, we noticed that it was 9 pm Sunday night- aka the beginning of shark week. Kelly had just gotten her kids to bed and was able to sit with us for a little and watch the first episode. Funny enough, we all quickly realized that the first episode took place in Bimini, and as the next episode began, the boat that they were on was the shark dive boat that Nat and I had been on a few days prior! It was a good end to the weekend and Nat and I went back to our place with a full jug of water and some delicious leftovers.
Frankie & Nat