Our new Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Laura Helmueller is off to join the Emancipet team in the HSUS Spayathon campaign this week down in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico. Dr. Helmueller will be blogging this week from Puerto Rico to share her experience in joining people from the mainland US and Puerto Rico helping animals on the island.

This week has started off with a bang! Our goal is 1000 spay and neuter surgeries in seven days. We all arrived at the gymnasium in Aguas Buenas Thursday morning to unload 20 pallets of equipment and set up our clinic. We spent the next day and a half getting our equipment assembled and ready to go for surgery and recovery. We use all the same anesthesia drugs, equipment and monitoring that we would in a regular vet clinic.

There are no cages to keep the pets in, so we have a system where the pets are sedated while with their owners, then moved to surgery. After surgery they are recovered with trained technicians until they are awake, then they go back with their owners in a special recovery area until they can walk and are ready to go home. Bilingual veterinarians and techs monitor the recovery areas and check in with the pets and owners to make sure all the pets are recovering safely from anesthesia.

We started our first surgery day on Saturday morning in the dark at 6am. Over 200 pet owners were lined up all the way around the gymnasium that we were working in, each hoping that they would be able to get their pet in for surgery that day.  We were able to do 113 surgeries the first day.

We were working with a team of 8 veterinarians, 15 technicians and dozens of volunteers from Puerto Rico and the mainland US. We had many techs from the local vet tech school and a large number of members from the local Puerto Rican Humane Society. The vibe is upbeat and the owners are so appreciative for the help from our teams. What a great opening day!!