Over the last few weeks, we have been helping with Morocco Animal Aid with a project to neuter and vaccinate the beach dogs that live on Banana beach. The process is pretty simple, identify the females, capture them and take them to the vet in Agadir who does the operation, then the dogs go to recover at a sanctuary for a week, then return to the beach. All the dogs that go through this process are ear tagged so everybody knows – simple.
So last week, the lovely Lucy Austin from MAA came down on the Wednesday morning to catch 2 dogs for the treatment. Both target dogs were heavily in season so they had attracted an entourage of males, all super charged with hormones. The females were doing their best to cope with all the attention with lots of fighting – it is all a bit of a scary situation to be honest.
Lucy is totally fearless (and a little mental in a nice way of course!) and soon had one of the large females under a towel and in her arms, whilst Karen and I fended off the male attention. That was simple, she was in the crate and no problems.
The second female was a different story and her male companion was not letting her out of his sight, so after 5 minutes or so we decided to try a different dog – one of the 6 month old puppies. Again Lucy is totally fearless and was soon wrestling with this lively little girl, manhandling her into the crate with minimum fuss.
With our cargo on board, we drove to the vets and delivered them safely. We scheduled a time for Saturday morning to catch the next batch, we wanted to catch the white female, Sisi, as she was really in need of this treatment, and another small female puppy. The plan was for us to catch Sisi in our courtyard early saturday morning – she would come in for food no doubt, then catch Bella the small female so when the crate arrived, it would be simple to get them loaded and off to the vet. It all sounds so simple now.
At first light, Karen and I walked our dogs as normal. Most of the beach dogs are pretty friendly and all come for a walk with you and this was no exception. When we returned home, a few dog treats and soon had Sisi and her male friend in our courtyard. Then we had to find Bella. Today, she was nowhere to be seen. We walked up the river, across to the beach and nothing.
After 15 minutes of searching, we saw her in the distance, way down the beach, playing with some other dogs. Armed with our food bowl, we set off to attract her back near our house. Thing is she was not having it, so we had to get her close and I just grabbed her.
She went crazy – screaming like a banshee. With no blanket, lead or anything to cover her with, she scratched and kicked me to bits, before eventually calming down. I sent Karen off to get a towel and lead whilst I just sat with her trying to keep her calm. Once the towel was over her head, she relaxed and I carried her all the way back to the courtyard.
Now we had the two targets and an unwanted over protective male dog in the courtyard – all before 8am! After disinfecting my multiple scratches and cuts, we really wanted to get the male dog out of the courtyard. He was trying to escape anyway, so getting him out was pretty simple, if not a little scary as he was not happy. After he was out, it all calmed down.
Lucy called about 9ish to see how things were and was happy that phase one had gone well. Then the plans changed a bit. Firstly the crate would not go in the other helpers car. Also 3 cats were booked in to go to the vets too, so we drove over to collect the crate in our car. When we arrived, the cats needed transporting and watching, so Karen said she would do this and help with the cats whilst Lucy and I crated up the dogs – we would all meet at the vets.
Then the fun started. Lucy is so fearless, but Sisi was not going to be cornered or caught. Normally she is a bit cautious, but friendly, this time she was showing a full set of teeth with clear intent to use. We caught Bella quickly and she was soon in the crate, then tried to coax Sisi near enough to get a lead on her, but she is smart and would not be tempted – even with cheese. Lucy opened the gate with a plan to lasso her as she walked passed but this dog realised the plan and a standoff took place…eventually she made a dive for the gate and escaped.
The decision was taken that we should catch a male dog puppy and take him instead, so we soon worked out the one and I managed to get a lead on him, then Lucy started screaming. She had stood on a palm leaf thorn and it had gone right into her foot. I let the dog go to come to her aid and then saw the size of this thing … poor Lucy managed to get her shoe off but she said she could not get the thorn out as she was in agony. I got her to sit and look away, then pulled it out in one quick movement … it was in her foot about 50mm or more!
I went indoors to get antiseptic and plasters etc, in the meantime Lucy caught the puppy again, one shoe on, one off – she is proper mental!
So with 2 dogs crated up, Lucy’s foot cleaned and dressed, we headed off to the vet – with Millie on Lucy’s knee as she needed her first set of jabs.
After dropping the dogs off, getting Millie her jabs (she did not like that much!) also being wormed and weighed – 1.8kg, we set off to met Karen and the other lady in the coffee shop opposite.
It appears that they also had a bit of a morning with the cats!
Karen got in the car and held one on a cage, the other 2 were brought out in laundry baskets, so when they were put in the car, they both escaped immediately. They were not over happy at going in the car and they went round and round inside the car like the wall of death, with Karen sat there in the middle.
The other 2 ladies held the door shut so they could not get out and left Karen to catch them! Cats are nasty at the best of times but being trapped in a car was not making them any happier, so Karen had to literally just grab them and try to get them in and under the baskets, getting scratched lots in the process!
Finally, all cats caught and trapped inside, they made their way to the vets and a well deserved coffee afterwards. Sisi will now have to be tranquilized and transported by the vet – she must be neutered so this is the only option.
Hats off to these guys – all voluntary – all for the love of the animals. They are dedicated and just want to make life better for the dogs, cats and other animals in the area. We intend to work more with them and help wherever we can. Plans always change, but the goal does not, caring for these animals is top of the list.
Millie enjoyed her cuddles of course and the fuss everybody made of her at the vets and the coffee house…but Millie will always enjoy being the centre of attention!