We weren't sure if we had missed her. It was midnight and the plane had landed an hour before. Rebecca, one of our advisers, was arriving for her first time in Lebanon.
Finally she came out, suitcases dragging behind her, and we met for the first time.
Dr. Rebecca Diaz came to Lebanon to assist us in our TNR program and help train local vets to be able to spay/neuter young kittens and puppies.
As a member society, Animals Lebanon was able to receive a grant from WSPA 'World Society for the Protection of Animals' that enabled us to fly Rebecca in. She has owned her own vet clinic and helped shelters throughout the world, and this would be a perfect opportunity for us to benefit from her knowledge and compassion.
We had to drag ourselves out of bed the next morning for our early start - Rebecca tired from flying in from Los Angeles and us exhausted from a very busy month.
Becky was the first young cat to be spayed.
Becky, named in honor of Rebecca, had come to AL after having been found alone next to a dumpster. She, like so many other rescues posed a special problem for us. She was too young for most vets in Lebanon to safely spay her, but if we waited until she was older so the vets were more confident in doing the surgery then she was no longer the 'cute kitten' which so many people want to adopt.
Even if we adopted out these kittens before they had been spayed or neutered, there is no guarantee that the adopters will bring them back for the surgery even when we do it for free.
Rebecca has done thousands of spay/neuter surgeries, and she knew how important it was to teach the vets the special care and attention that such young animals need.
It is now thought that to do these surgeries at a young age is safer for the animals, can be much faster, and solves our dilemma for so many kittens and puppies that we find.
Working with a local vet, Rebecca showed how slightly changing the anesthesia and pain medication could better accommodate young animals. Heating lamps and pads kept Becky warm during and after the short surgery. Rebecca explained how their little bodies can quickly become cold during and after surgery, and need more attention than adult cats and dogs. They were also given some sugar water and food soon after surgery, knowing that they can't go for hours like a big adult cat can.
Over the next eight days we were able to visit five vet clinics. It would have been great if we could have had all the vets together for these days, but to be successful the vets need to be offered training with what they are used to and what they will use once Rebecca leaves.
She also helped one vet set up a gas anesthesia machine and equipment to monitor the heart rate and oxygen levels during surgery.
It might seem like a lot of machines and tubes and beeping in the surgery room, but we don't want to take any risk with such precious little animals who are just starting life.
We offered our TNR vouchers for half price to people who care for animals living on the street to encourage them to bring their animal at this time and benefit from Rebecca expertise.
We are proud to say that we worked with seven vets and spayed/neutered 73 dogs and cats, many of them less than two months old, and we did not have a single problem.
And what about little Becky, the first young kitten which was spayed? She stayed at the vet clinic for a few hours, quietly recovering on a heating pad before she would once again be waiting for adoption.
While she was still waking up, one of the vet?s clients saw this beautiful kitten and fell in love. After waiting a few more days to make sure Becky was fully recovered, our first pediatric spay is now in a loving home making her adoptive family happy.