January - June 2007



Banjul Clinic success story

Saved by the Gambia Port Authority!

Following the success of the 2006 Banjul stray dog neutering programme, we decided to try and catch more of the stray dogs in Banjul and also provide a clinic for owners to bring in their pets for neutering and advice. We tried hard to find a more central location than the Port and spent some 2 months talking to the Banjul City Council, the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, and various medical and educational establishments. When we boarded the plane at Gatwick we thought we had a place - when we reached Banjul we were told it was no longer available!

No problem - we had asked the Gambia Port Authority (GPA) to be on standby and they set to and cleared and cleaned the facility which we used in 2006. Thanks to Sol Bah and Matar Charreh's magnificent efforts we were able to set up and start work. We used local radio to publicise the Clinic as well as giving out handbills - work we could not do in advance thanks to the uncertainty about the location!

This time we had the good luck to find Sue Harvey, our vet in 2003, free between contracts in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. She was joined by Suzanne Jones, vet nurse in 2003 and 2006. The dog-catching team consisted of Dodou, with assistants Foday, Alhajie and Lamin. Despite some initial worries about crowds gathering when dogs were being caught round the market, the situation settled down and some sort of programme evolved with stray dogs and owned dogs being treated. The team found that after a few visits the dogs moved on to new locations and they had to follow various groups round the Fire Station, Ferry Terminal, and Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital as well as the market and streets.

People in Banjul were very interested in and supportive of the work, one lady was devastated when she heard that the dogs she fed had been 'taken away' - but was delighted when she heard what was happening and came to see us and bring food for the dogs! She will be a useful contact for continuing monitoring. All strays were neutered, given anti-rabies vaccinations, ear-notched and microchipped. Worm and flea treatments were also given with antibiotics where necessary.

By the end of the Clinic 42 dogs were caught in Banjul; of these 27 females and 11 males were treated. One dog was found to have been microchipped and neutered before by GambiCats but the ear notch was not easy to spot which was why she was caught again. Two dogs had to be put to sleep and one sick dog died shortly after arrival.

In addition 26 owned/fostered dogs were also neutered as well as 7 cats. These were all animals whose owners would not have been able to afford to neuter them or seek treatment without GambiCats' help.

Thus a total of 71 animals were neutered by the team! A staggering number given the difficulties of catching, the slow start to the programme and the local conditions.

As a result of these 2 programmes, 70 stray dogs have now been neutered, microchipped and given anti-rabies injections in Banjul since 2006.

We would like to thank the team for their splendid work in such demanding conditions. Also all our other helpers/sponsors including the RSPCA, WSPA, Cats Protection West Lothian, Arnolds, Dogs' Trust, SNIP International, Monarch Airlines, WVS, Merial, Pfizer, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Alstoe, Animal Care, Priory Vets Cardigan, Bridge Vets & many others. In The Gambia our thanks go to the Gambia Ports Authority, the Department of Livestock Services and Dr Ceesay who provided the rabies vaccine and much other support.

New equipment
We were lent a dog cage, of the type used in transporting dogs by air, during the Banjul Clinic and found it so useful for moving dogs by car that we have invested in one ourselves at the cost of £85.00. If anyone finds a second-hand one in good condition for sale please let us know.

Profiles of Alhajie and Lamin

Alhajie Ndure says he started life as a sailor. He has worked with GambiCats since 1998 helping Dodou with trapping, feeding and monitoring cats in hotels, as well as catching beach dogs. He is married to Anta Sanneh and has a daughter aged 14 and a son aged 12. He has taken up weightlifting recently (perhaps to help carry the beach dogs?), and his favourite food is benachin. Alajie lives in Serekunda.

Lamin Manneh worked with the Department of Livestock Services for nearly 30 years before joining GambiCats in 2006. He is married to Aminata Touray and has 7 children aged between 11 and 31 years. He likes to follow football, listen to BBC1 News and read. Lamin enjoys all Gambian food - domada, benechin and yassa. He lives in Serekunda

Hotel changes

Once again we have had to bring new managers up-to-speed about GambiCats' programme and objectives. This has generally been successful but we do urge visitors to help by
• not encouraging cats into their rooms
• not encouraging dogs into hotel grounds
• not feeding in restaurant/bar areas
• asking managers if they are considering a dedicated feeding area eg cat cafe
• letting managers know if they think the cats/dogs are in good condition
• reporting problems to reps and Dodou (9900756)  

Dr Rob Schell

Our mystery donor (see Update 17) has been found thanks to Gary, our webmaster, who lives in the Netherlands and tracked him down! He is a Dutch vet and travels to The Gambia regularly, so we will keep contact.

Keep your help coming in!

We have received a lot of help from individuals and vet practices this year - mainly in connection with the Banjul Clinic. Lots of leads and collars, flea treatments, etc. have been donated. They are all used to help stray animals and those whose owners cannot afford vet treatment. We are always in need of old dog collars and leads (your vet may be willing to donate some); antiseptic cream/powder for skin wounds; ear cleaning powder; absorbable sutures (expired 2004+ ); prescription flea and worm treatments; second-hand vet instruments etc. Do contact us if you need to check something out.

We need to keep the donations coming in as well. To meet the core costs for staff, transport, vets' bills, and phone, as well as providing daily meals for cats and dogs in some 10 locations during the rainy season, we rely on donations from individual supporters of the charity.

Mobile phones needed

We are urgently in need of replacement mobile phones. They on't need to be very modern - just in working condition and with a charger, if possible. Dodou and his assistants need them when working at separates locations. If Alaji or Lamin catches a cat and needs Douou for transport a mobile is absolutely essential. If a vet needs to be contacted urgently then a mobile is vital.