I have recently returned from a trip to Essaouira a port city and resort on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, where I was fortunate enough to spend a week volunteering as a veterinary nurse for HSAM (Help the Street Animals of Morocco).
As long term confinement is not an option for the unowned and feral cat’s prevention of reproduction by neutering is critical when managing cat populations. Trap-neuter-release (TNR) programmes where planned neutering and rapid return of the cats to their original territory allows this to take place.
HSAM is a dedicated charity keeping the street animal population of Essaouira healthy and under control. It was founded in 2006 by Claire Sedgwick and her partner Rob White, their dedicated teams have visited Morocco twice yearly since to provide much needed population control, veterinary treatment and education to the locals.
Whilst in Essaouira we worked in collaboration with Dr Adnan El Aji, a local Veterinary Surgeon who allows the use of his veterinary practice and care for those animals requiring extra attention following surgery, treatment and other procedures are provided by a local animal rescue.
During my trip we carried out 112 cat neuters, 6 dog spays and attended to various wounds. An experienced team sets out early each morning collecting cats from the streets and port for surgery that day. Each cat has the tip of their ear removed to provide future visible identification that they have been neutered. Following their operations and once recovered the street animals are returned back to their familiar surroundings helping to keep stress to a minimum. I was extremely impressed with the level of veterinary care we were able to provide and the focus always being on the animals, ensuring they were as stress and pain free as possible.
Whilst out on the streets, and around medina and fishing port it was enormously rewarding to see the number of healthy ear tipped cats basking in the sunshine. It is amazing to witness first hand what HSAM have achieved and are continuing to do, it was great to see the mutual respect between the resident cats and residents of Essaouira.
I feel proud to have worked with such an amazing team of passionate people all totally dedicated to this cause. The week was very intense and definitely emotional at times but it felt fantastic to be able to offer my skills and give something back. I cannot wait to return!
This blog was written by Emma Lote RVN ISFMDipFN