Costa Rican Vacation

Kim Hurley of the Cat's Meow experiences an extraordinary vacation in Costa Rica helping the local pet...

Imagine going on a much needed vacation trip to beautiful Costa Rica and volunteering to help at a spay/neuter clinic.

Imagine an old run down gymnasium converted into an animal hospital for cats and dogs. Wooden bleachers house medical supplies along with a very small portable refrigerator for medicines and blood samples. An old metal baby crib turned upside down and small wooden children's school desks serve as surgery tables. The floor of the gymnasium is used for preparing animals for surgery. Another area across the gym serves as a post operative recovery area, using blankets and towels donated by the local Costa Rican people to make the animals more comfortable.

Outside people line up at sunrise to try to get a spot in the free clinic. Dogs were tied to poles, the fence, any spot to hold them until it was their turn. Cats were taken inside to hold in small carriers if available. The pets were then examined by veterinarian students for eligbility for surgery.

Who were these students? Colorado State university's College of Veterinary Medicine was sponsored by an organization of veterinarians called Vidas - International veterinarians dedicated to animal health. A group of veterinarians and veterinary students from Colorado State along with two local Costa Rican veterinarians volunteered their time to hold a free vaccination and spay/neuter clinic from january 4-10 In the town of San Isidro.

Imagine when I realized that my husband and I were going to be only an hour away in the next little town on vacation during this time! I had to be part of this experience. I began e-mailing the college, only to find out that they were estatic about any extra help. They welcomed me with open arms, thanking me so much and then my exciting adventure began.

They had to stop at 40 surgeries a day. We were working long hours in often stifling heat. It was amazing how exhausted and invigorated I felt at the same time. I literally passed out early in the evenings only to get up to do it all over again the next morning. The wonderful thing I realized was the camaraderie that develops in the "mash-style", do whatever is needed work atmosphere.

These veterinarians and students had a chance to affect more than just the lives of the animals treated. All of this was possible through donations sent to the Colorado State University of Veterinarian Medicine and donations from the local Costa Rican people. The veterinarians and students paid for their own travel and stayed with host families. I found it interesting that the people in a place still considered a "third world country" had so much to give to help their animals. I find it disheartening when a country as rich as the United States in many ways falls short of the compassion shown by the humble Costa Rican people as strangers stayed in their homes for a week to help treat their local pets.

I was honored to be a part of this mission which reinforced the point that you honestly don't know what you are capable of until you are called upon to do it. I know I was meant to work with animals wherever my life's journey takes me.

Kim Hurley, Owner/Vet Tech

Cat's Meow Veterinary Hospital