By Diana Stevens from the March 2010 Edition
PATA which means “paw” in Spanish stands for Personas Ayudando a Todos los Animales – people helping all animals. As we all know, in some areas of Manzanillo the streets are overrun by mangy, hungry dogs and cats ferreting in garbage bags left out for collection. This is unpleasant and unhealthy for everyone whether two or four-legged. PATA is a very active group for both elderly and young people with good support from many Mexicans who understand the need. It relies on volunteers who can make themselves useful in different ways according to their own experience and abilities.
The main concentration is on Sterilisation followed by Education. There are two main Fundraising Events per year to provide the necessary cash to carry out this important work.
The Sterilisation programmes main event is an Annual MASH Style Clinic running for five days in March. This takes place in the Casa Ejidal (community centre) in Salagua and the next is scheduled for 11th – 15th March inclusive. The conditions are far from favorable but the organisers have found ingenious ways of overcoming the difficulties and the venue is on the spot for local people without transport who wish to avail themselves of the service. At least two very faithful Mexican vets attend and other volunteer vets come from the U.S. and work almost a twelve hour day operating altogether on at least fifty animals a day. Since March 2006 very nearly 2000 operations have been performed
This work is supported by the versatile volunteers. If you have nursing experience back up to the vets is always needed either in the operating area or in recovery which is where things could go wrong, but very seldom do. You could administer the free rabies shots on offer too. Men are very welcome to help with moving large cages (or dogs) but they too can sit happily in recovery stroking an animal as it comes round. If your Spanish is good you might find your niche in registration and dealing with often diffident owners or if you want to help but really aren´t happy with operations you could sterilise the instruments. All volunteers pull together and when they see a need converge to fulfill it. These kind people need a snack from time to time and many ladies are very generous with the meals they supply so work can continue right through the day. Other supporters contribute in money or in kind to the medical supplies needed for this mammoth undertaking.
Over the last two years this work has been extended into Mini Clinics in poorer and more remote areas where owners would have real difficulty transporting their pet. These are very grass roots events with great contact with the local community who are immensely grateful to particularly Doctora Gaby of Las Brisas and the small but faithful group of volunteers prepared to travel where needed. You are welcome to join them.
The Education aspect of PATA´s work is carried out largely by the inspired Mexican helpers who visit primary school classes and explain the importance of responsible pet care. They talk about regular feeding and exercise, fresh water, grooming, bathing and anti flea and tic measures. Also training, play and attention are discussed with the children and usually a rejuvenated street dog is taken in to show what can be done. The powers that be in PATA don´t take themselves too seriously. The person responsible for “pup-lic” relations has introduced students from Campo Verde to community service in the clinics and two are now studying towards becoming vets.
“Dr.Doolittle”, the name attributed to Gaby Leyva, is the understatement of the decade, as this indefatigable young lady has made it her life´s work to attend all needy animals. Her surgery is at Vetinaria Las Gaviotas at the roundabout at Las Brisas and you can recognise it by the paw prints and the dog houses outside in normal working hours.
She does free sterilisations throughout the year, and PATA pay for at least 20 of these per month at under $200 pesos a time. She was doing it for free before.
The moving force behind PATA is now merely the “top dog” and some of her practical responsibilities have been taken over by “Mr Mefistoffeles” who has greatly extended the Mini Clinics (already around 60 sterilisations this year) and has recently founded the “Friends of PATA” fundraising organisation to help all or any of the animal groups in Manzanillo.
There are two main fundraising events. Early in the year PATA hold a Silent Auction – some unsold offers from the recent evening (are still open for online bidding – and Jim Evans has an account of the Poker Evening in this issue, for those who understand such matters. At the end of November PATA holds its Annual Dog Jog which is attended by participants of all ages, shapes, colours and number of legs (even three who was a winner!). Most are sponsored, not all actually “jog” but prefer to amble gently along and there is no need to bring Buster if you left him up north or he´s feeling unsociable. Visit www.patamanzanillo.com to find more information and links to their Facebook Group, their blog and “tweets”. You can also find out more about “Friends of PATA” and what is available for all local animal groups.