MNC Dog Project vet team makes 50 surgeries on domestic dogs

24/11/2021

Finally, after waiting for two years due to covid-19, the MNCDog Project returned to Mara North in November 2021 to carry out the important work for the conservancy, the wildlife and the local communities.

Under the leadership of Assistant professor, Rikke Langebæk, from University of Copenhagen, six Danish and three Kenyan veterinary students participated in the 10 day surgical workshop. The workshops take place twice a year (when covid is not putting a halt to everything) carrying out neuter surgeries on domestic dogs, vaccinating against rabies, canine distemper and parvo-virus, treating against parasites and taking blood samples for health-related research. The aim of the project is more than a simple focus on the dogs themselves, though. By controlling the dog numbers and keeping the dogs healthy, the dog project contributes to the protection of wildlife of Mara North Conservancy. Furthermore, the project goes to the local schools to engage the schoolchildren in the project, telling them about the importance of having fewer but healthier dogs, about protecting wildlife and finally demonstrating the surgeries on a toy dog.

The project would never succeed without local support from the community – a support that has grown considerable since the start of the project in 2019. This support is due to the successful results so far, but only partly. The main reason for the support is the valuable communication efforts by our local partner in Mararienda, veterinary technician James Nyatuni, as well as the local guides from Karen Blixen Camp, who continuously tell their friends, families and visiting guests about the benefits of the project.
The constant awareness of the interconnectedness of elements in this project is essential to its success and long-term impact. It is not an isolated dog-health project, but a holistic conservation project.

MNCDog project has its base at Karen Blixen Camp, who also supports with all the logistics. This year we were pleased to get support from Saruni Lodge too. They gave us vehicle assistance on our last day, where the entire team goes in to the field to do castration surgeries in bomas located further away from Mararienda, where the surgeries otherwise take place in our temporary clinic.

This year the project made a new record: 50 surgeries were performed in the course of the workshop. This included removing a 2½ kg skin tumor (approx.. 35 x 20 x 20 cm) from the hip of a dog! All surgeries were carried out by veterinary students, supervised by Dr. Chelang’at, Nairobi University, and Dr. Sponsellar, Tufts University, USA. Likewise, students were responsible for anesthetizing the patients under supervision of Dr. Helle Harding Poulsen, University of Copenhagen. Finally, all laboratory assignments are carried out by Dr. Stephen DeVincent, Tufts University.

We hope the covid-virus will stay at bay, so that we will be able to carry out the next workshop in May 2022. Dog-owners have already lined up for surgeries and e-mails with student applications for this popular project are beginning to appear in the in-box. We keep our fingers crossed!

The main financial support for MNCDog Project, 2020 – 2022 comes from Animal Protection, Denmark (Dyrenes Beskyttelse), Ragnhild Bruun’s Fund, Boerhinger-Ingelheim and Karen Blixen Camp Trust, all to whom we are immensely grateful!
Several companies have furthermore supported with utensils: Boerhinger-Ingelheim, Kruuse A/S and e-Vet, Denmark. Thank you so much to everyone.

This year’s participants:
STUDENTS
DENMARK
Camilla Fredløv Højris Hansen
Hannah Sofie Skak Johanson
Elisabeth Højbo Dagnæs
Andreas Jensen
Josefine Sinkjær Søndergaard
Maria Stange

KENYA:
Floyd Laval
Leonard Kibet
Elynnalma Njeri

SUPERVISORS:
Project leader (and surgery):
Dr. Rikke Langebæk, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Surgery:
Dr. Jerlyn Sponseller, Tufts University
Dr. Specioza Chelang’at, University of Nairobi
Anesthesia:
Dr. Helle Harding Poulsen, University of Copenhagen
Internal medicine and advisory board:
Dr. Stephen DeVincent, Tufts University
Logistics
Vet tech James Nayetuni
Dr. Coletta, University of Nairobi

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