Dr. Jennifer Betz to help needy animals in Belize

A Sandy veterinarian will soon travel to Belize as part of a two-week spay-and-neuter campaign to help some 400 animals in need.

Dr. Jennifer Betz of the Sandy Animal Clinic is traveling May 2-17 as a board member of the nonprofit organization Veterinary Ventures, which operates out of Portland. She began volunteering with the group five years ago, and has been part of three previous spay-and-neuter campaigns to Mexico and Fiji. POST PHOTO: ELIZABETH KELLAR - Dr. Jennifer Betz of the Sandy Animal Clinic will soon travel to Belize to help needy animals.

During one of those trips to Mexico, she recalls the Veterinary Ventures team performing some 700 spays and neuters in one week.

“People flock from all over to get their pets taken care of,” she said.

That high number reflects the strong demand for veterinary services in these areas, she explains. In Belize, the team will be traveling to three areas — Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker and Belmopan.

The first two locations are islands popular with tourists, and many of the animals the team is likely to see will not be companion animals, she said. Instead, these cats and dogs will be trapped, then spayed or neutered and released again to help humanely control the local stray-animal population.

In Belmopan, Betz said she expects the team will see more pets.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that these four-legged patients will be in tip-top health prior to their surgeries. Not only does the team work to heal the animal, Betz said, they also make an effort to educate their owners, the local community and other vets.

“A lot of these animals have a blood-borne parasite they get from ticks, so it makes the surgeries more difficult because there is a lot of bleeding,” Betz said.

Leading up to the trip, Betz received donations from local veterinary pharmaceutical representatives to assist with the drug needs of the trip. She also had help from Supera Anesthesia Innovations in Clackamas, which created a specially-designed anesthesia system that can handle four animals at a time.

Others on the Veterinary Ventures team hail from Missouri, Florida, Canada, Washington and Bend, Ore.

Betz also raised funds to prepare for the trip. A gift of $20 sponsored one spay or neuter surgery, while $5 paid for one animal’s pain medication. Social media helped her meet the trip’s $9,000 goal. When she surpassed that figure, she began tucking away any additional money to prepare for her next trip — a spay-and-neuter campaign trip to Belize she’s planning in January 2017.

“There’s been so much outpouring of need in other areas,” she said.

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