January - June 2005

Second Beach dog Neutering Trip

GambiCats launched its second beach dog programme in May 2005 when a team of 6 went out to The Gambia to work in the Palm Rima beach area. This followed the first successful visit in 2003, when GambiCats neutered, microchipped and give anti-rabies injections to beach dogs in the Kombo area (see Update 10).

Alison & Carl, Dodou, Frances, David, Alaji, Foday, PeterThe team from the UK consisted of vet David Griffiths, assistant Linda Pearce, dog handler Carl Howman, assistant Alison Drysdale, and Trustees Peter and Frances Miller. David had visited The Gambia to neuter cats at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Banjul in 2000, and Carl & Alison had helped with the first beach dog visit. We worked together with local vet Dr Ousman Ceesay who is GambiCats' main vet and who also provided the rabies vaccine and loaned us his portable autoclave; Foday Camara, an experienced dog handler from the Department of Livestock Services (DLS) who helped in 2003; and Alajie Ndure GambiCats' assistant. Dodou Bojang coordinated the Gambian end, providing transport and assistance with catching the dogs plus 1001 other support services.

Arriving for work

Thus we set off on May 10th and were already carrying out the first operation by the next afternoon!
During the 2 weeks, we stayed at Luigi's Apartments where we were incredibly fortunate in receiving free accommodation and breakfast from owners Julie and Luigi. They also provided lots of support ranging from delicious picnics and evening meals, laundering surgery items, a jacuzzi to relax in and habit-forming Springbok cocktails! This very generous offer not only helped with our costs, but made the whole programme possible as we needed to be near the beach and operating centre to monitor the condition of the dogs.
The actual scene of operations and recovery was the nearby Bailey's Beach Bar - a first for GambiCats! One of our supporters, Bella, had put the idea to the owner and manager, and we had visited the bar last November to see if it was suitable. As the season was quiet, we were able to convert the large, secure back area to an operating facility with space for the dogs to be kept overnight for post-operative care where necessary. The bar had a generator, essential when the main electricity supply is off, and all the staff were enthusiastic and supportive of our efforts. A screen of curtains and tablecloths was rigged up to separate arriving bar customers and the 'surgery' and we just hoped that there would not be a visit from the Health & Hygiene inspector!
We took vet medicines and supplies with us, but did not have to take quite as much equipment as in past visits as we now have a fair amount kept permanently in The Gambia including cages, traps, special leads and muzzles, scales, cautery set, shaving equipment etc. A massage table was being stored at Luigi's so we cleaned that up, used some building blocks to raise it up and it made a perfect operating table!

We took vet medicines and supplies with us, but did not have to take quite as much equipment as in past visits as we now have a fair amount kept permanently in The Gambia including cages, traps, special leads and muzzles, scales, cautery set, shaving equipment etc. A massage table was being stored at Luigi's so we cleaned that up, used some building blocks to raise it up and it made a perfect operating table!
The procedure was the same as in 2003 with dogs being brought in and given a sedative before being anaesthetised. Polaroid photos were taken for ID purposes. Injections to cover rabies and worms as well as an antibiotic were given before spaying or castration commenced. Where dogs were going back to the beach, or kept in unfenced compounds, a microchip was inserted and the left ear was notched. Most of the females were kept in overnight to make sure they were fit to be returned to their surroundings.
As it was very hot and humid with temperatures in the 30s, we tried to work in the mornings, spending the afternoons washing vetbedding, preparing instruments, etc. ready for late afternoon operations. Some dogs were caught in the late evening and sedated 'til next morning.
As in 2003, football played a part in the proceedings as the African Under-17 championships were being held in The Gambia. Luckily the Gambian team won the final against Ghana which resulted in much celebration and a public holiday being declared!
We received many visitors including pet owners, locals who look after and try to re-home animals, and two vets from the Department of Livestock Services - Suleiman Mussa and Ousman Ceesay. Dr Bakary Touray, a long-time supporter also visited us and loaned us the special cradle used to support dogs during operations.

Cradle in OperationThe pattern on this trip was different from the previous trip in that a number of the beach dogs on the area had already been neutered by us in 2003 as could be seen from ear notches and checking for microchips. This was very good news although precious time was spent catching and identifying such dogs. We made every effort to find and treat beach and stray dogs as a priority, making visits to the Senegambia and Cape Point areas.

Eventually some 20 female and 4 male dogs were neutered of which around 15 were either beach dogs or rescued dogs. Homes were found for 2 puppies and some 7 cats were also neutered. Some animals in very poor condition had to be put to sleep. In all some 50 dogs and cats were examined or treated during the team's stay.

The records made will be used to update the Microchip Register so that Dodou can make periodic visits to the beach areas to scan dogs and look for ear notches. This will give an indication of how long the dogs survive. Already we have seen most of the 2003 dogs several times in the past 2 years proving the value of this work.

Beach dog arrives in styleThe close relationships between the beach dogs were demonstrated a couple of times; once when we removed a female late at night. The rest of the pack came and howled at Luigi's, and gave her a joyful welcome back the next evening! Two females from the Senegambia area were spayed on different days and their reunion was also very touching - they ran off together no doubt to compare their experiences!
In the future we hope to start a rolling programme of neutering beach dogs at regular intervals - Beach Dog of The Month! We will be recruiting Foday to work with Dodou and Alajie for a day or so each month, sedating the dogs prior to transporting them to the local vet, and keeping females for 24 hours in Dodou's compound before releasing them back to their part of the beach. We hope to continue to assist the DLS in other areas of dog control and welfare as funds permit.

Our grateful thanks go to the team for all their hard work, to those who supported the Programme both in the UK and The Gambia, and especially Dodou who had to juggle so many things including keeping the cat programme going at the same time.

We would also like to thank the following: Dogs' Trust, RSPCA, The Gambia Experience, Monarch Airlines, Bayer plc, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Pettrac, Pfizer & Sandy Newman.

Amadou Fatty

Another Sad Loss!
We are very sad to announce the death of Dodou's assistant, Amadou Fatty, who died on 20th April 2005. His death was unexpected and sudden and he leaves 3 children and a wife who is pregnant.. Amadou had been with GambiCats since May 2002, he was hard-working and dedicated and had a sense of humour, and will be much missed.

Kololi Joins GambiCats
Good news at Kololi - thanks to the untiring efforts of Dodou and various visitors especially Lucy Jackson, a meeting was held with between the owner, Lucy, Val Thompson (ex-Kairaba Hotel) and Dodou with the encouraging outcome that Kololi cats are now part of the club!

Kombo Cat Cafe

Kombo Cat Cafe Re-built!
At last the Kombo cats have a cafe again. After nearly 6 months without it a new one has been built next to the site of the old one. It is smaller and the cats have taken a while to get used to it but, thanks to the food being put there by visitors and GambiCats, most of them are now regular diners again.

GambiCats Merchandise Person Needed!
Is there anyone who would be willing to help sell a limited range of cards and polo and T- shirts? We are asked for such items from time to time and would like to be able to market our designs on a small scale if we could find a volunteer.

Send Us Your News & Ideas

We are always interested to hear from visitors to The Gambia about their holidays and the animals they meet. If you would like to send us your news and photos via email or post (see contact details on back page) we may be able to include them in newsletter. Other ways to help include telling your tour rep about GambiCats' work with the cats and dogs; asking if the hotel could keep copies of our leaflets in their reception area; and distributing leaflets to other guests and friends (supplies available from UK & Gambian addresses). If you have business contacts in The Gambia they might be willing to help publicize our work - do let us know.

Maybe you know of friends with houses/compounds in The Gambia who might be willing to help with publicity, arranging to get T-shirts printed & sold, or fund-raising.

... AND THOSE VET ITEMS TOO! We still need supplies of the following: antiseptic cream/powder for skin wounds; multi-purpose ear cleaning powder; sutures - expiry date post 2003 and absorbable please; Drontal worm tablets; dog leads & collars - secondhand are fine; rolls of cotton wool and swabs; flea treatment etc.

The African Adventures Of Finnegan O'Reilly

We still have a few copies of Lucy Jackson's hard-cover book following the story of an Irish terrier and his adventures in The Gambia. ALL proceeds from sales are kindly donated to GambiCats; price £6.50 to cover postage (cheques payable to GambiCats). Orders to GambiCats, Parc Llwyd, Aberporth, Cardigan SA43 2DU.

Donations And Financial Help - More Needed

A big thank you to all those supporters who help GambiCats with donations and regular banker's orders, without you we would not be able to pay our vet bills, employ Dodou, transport the animals, run programmes for the beach dogs or print leaflets and Newsletters.

For new supporters, the back page of the newsletter carries all the information for those who would like to help.


Thank You

As always we are grateful for the support we receive from individuals and organisations and would like to thank the following for their generous contributions in various ways to the work of GambiCats:

Our major sponsor SPANA who funded us as an outreach project  1999-2003          

In the UK:
Alice Noakes Trust, Arnolds, Astraeus Airlines, Banovallum Vets, Battersea Dogs Home, Bayer plc, Best Friends Vets, Beaumont Animals' Hospital, Blackwall Vets, CPL, Chase Vets, Darvill's Pet Shop (Bradford), Dixons Surgical, First Care Vet Centre, The Gambia Experience,  The Gambia Tourist Authority, Haven Vet Practice (Llanelli), Lab 3, Mayhew Home, Metalcote, Monarch Airlines, Dogs Trust, Naturewatch,  New Hall Vet Centre, Newydd Vets, NOAH, North Shore, Pet Plan Charitable Trust, Pettrac, Priory Vets (Cardigan), Rosewood Vet Centre (Coseley), RSPCA, Summerdale Vet Centre, Temple End Vets, Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, WyNot, WSPA

B Abercrombie, J Allen, Y Allen, C Ambridge, P Ashby, C Axam, J Bamber, G M C Barnes, Mr & Mrs Barrett, J & P Barter, V Barton, P Bowen, M Bradbury, C Bryant, L Buxton, Lady Carsberg, L Cartier van Dissel, C Clarke, C Clarkson, C Coles,T Collins, G Constable, Mr & Mrs J Cooper, K Cooper, M Cooper, S Cranston, A Creasey, S Crump, M Daniels, M Carton, E L Davies, Y Dewey, N Downie, A & H Dun, Mr & Mrs Ellis, M Enright, B Erdelyi, M Everton, C J Favell, V Field, M Foster, D Fraser, A Gallagher, P George, B Gibbins, J Goodwin, C Gorman, S Gray, D Griffiths, H Hackney, Mr & Mrs K Hamilton, C M Hannan, J Harper, A & JE Harris, C Harvey, J Harvey, S Harvey, D Hayward, M Heithus, H Helm, Mr & Mrs Hennessy, E Holloway, J Holt, EM Hopper, EA Horder, K Horne, V & R Hounsell, C Howman, G & H Hulsmeier, A & H Hulse, L Jackson, J James, M James, Mr & Mrs Johnson, C Jones, M Jones, S Jones, A Kashiv, M Kerry, J Kimpton, A Kyari, RA Leigh, C Long, J & P Ludlam, S McDonald, J McLoughlin, S & B Mann, R Marshall, Lady Maxwell-Hyslop, J Maxwell-Hyslop, L Mayo, J Merchant, S Mitchell, B Montague, GI Moore, S Morhall, Ms Morrissey, JE Mulroy, H Partridge,S Phillips, S Pietrowski, S Pike, D Pollard, A Potter, G & C Reiher, J Remfry, JE Revell, A & J Richardson, J Riddell, A Roberts, D&L Robertson, J Rushton, M Rzmieniecka, H Sadler, S Schiller, A Simmons, V Sinclair, D Slade, J & G Smith, I & G Smith, M&S Sparkes, E Spooner, M Stables, E Steedman, M Sumner, M Tamba, Mr & Mrs Thomas, M Tollhurst, J Tombs, M Tracey, J Turley, M Uppal, M Vassiliou, Mr & Mrs Walker, D Walker, S & P Watts, W Watts, C Webb, R Welsby, R Westerman,  S Whyman, M A Williams, SB Williamson

In The Gambia:

Staff at the Department of Livestock Services, Abuko; V Brooker; Dr O Ceesay; Samba M B Fye, Gambia Veterinary Council, M Hendrix & Kombo Hotel staff, Dr B Loum; Luigi's Pizza Restaurant; Bijou Peters; V Thompson; Dr B Touray; Dr Omar Touray and the AWAG Committee - A Bayo, D Bojang, E Camara, S Jammeh, B Jarjue and K Jatta

Trustees: Frances Miller, Peter Miller, Margaret Uppal
Address: Parc Llwyd, Aberporth, Cardigan, SA43 2DU, UK
tel:   (00 44) 01239 810595                       fax:  (00 44) 01239 811193
email: gambicats@aol.com
In The Gambia:
Coordinator: Dodou F Bojang
Address: PO Box 2874 Serekunda, The Gambia
tel:       00 220 9900756
00 220 4462184
Assistants: Alaji Ndong