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My Journey to the Dominican Republic

(March 31st – April 14th 2016)


1. Tourism and Animal welfare in Punta Cana

2. Meeting with Peace Corps

3. Spay and neuter operative in Samaná (part 1)

4. Spay and neuter operative in Samaná (part 2)

5. Spay and neuter operative in Samaná (part 3)

6. The Caribbean dream…


5. Spay and neuter operative in Samaná (part 3)
with Dr. Monika Eickhoff, Dr. Julia Neumann and Dr. Anna Bremus April 5th – 9th 2016

The day starts with an emergency. While Anna gets ready to neuter Sadan, the Rottweiler with the Sticker sarcoma, Julia is spaying Chihuahua Blanquita. She stops breathing right away and needs oxygen!

All went well! Blanquita waking up in the arms of her owner…

After surgery Sadan gets his first dosage of chemotherapy with Vincristin to treat his Sticker sarcoma.

Then he can sleep off the anaesthesia…

A beautiful tri-color cat arrives.

Cat lover Julia prepares her…

…and spays her. Although the cat is neither pregnant nor shows any sign of a health issue…

…she doesn’t want to wake up.

She gets an infusion and is put into a box.
All day long Julia looks after her in-between surgeries.

A man from Teron had brought 2 bitches the day before because he had no time this morning, one of them emaciated, the other, Chivilita, biting frantically. I had not seen them arrive and was therefore unconcerned when the question came up „Chiviita has to be taken out of her box to go for a walk – who is going to do that???“ She regarded me for a moment hesitatingly and then decided to trust me. After only a few steps she threw herself on the ground, held her belly up and wanted caresses.

Of course I had to be there when she got prepared for the surgery…

Julia controls the tube – everything is all right…

Chivilita is a young bitch and has never been pregnant yet. She recovers quickly.

The second bitch from Teron is a different case altogether…

Daltana it a skeleton with huge teats.
She had a litter not too long ago, thank God her last one!

She gets inhalation anaesthesia which proves to be a wise decision…

Daltana has ehrlichiosis and is a strong bleeder. Intestines and spleen have to be taken out to find the source of the bleeding and stop it.

A rinsing with Ringer’s solution makes sure that the organs are sterile when being put back into Daltana’s belly.

Daltana stays on the drip after surgery, Kim controlling the dripping speed.

Chivilita visits her friend Daltana who takes a long time to recover.


…and the cute Blackie…

…are the next to get spayed.

In the meantime Francine and Abel prepare pretty Labrador-mix Milka.

Mancha is waiting in the box with the number 12.
Theresa brought her yesterday from the beach.

Milka and Mancha in surgery, the stray Mancha attached to the inhalation machine
just to be on the safe side…

Luna is another one of those small biters and gets a muzzle…

…'til she lies deeply asleep on Julia’s table. Monika‘s patient Medusa has the blue tag with the number 16 at the collar. Today not the numbers but the expected difficulty of the surgeries decide about the order. Pedro will get amputated today and all easier surgeries shall be done before…

A surprise visit! Andrea is brought, the Chihuahua whose huge tumor Monika removed yesterday. She is doing very well but has started to lick her wound. She gets a shirt from Kim that fits perfectly and suits her very much!

Milka is already waking up again when little Luna arrives in the recovery station.

Do you like to bite as much as your girlfriend Luna? But Negro is a good little guy…

Anna neuters him.

Negro covered up warmly in recovery.

Hardly waking up he is already concerned if Luna is doing well.

This sad looking German shepherd belongs to the same lady as the young Rottweiler that was neutered the second day. His name is Demo.

Demo wakes up during surgery, pulls the intravenous catheter and gets hooked to the inhalation machine.

Regarding Demo I’m somewhat stunned about his miserable condition in comparison to the well-cared for Rottweiler. Demo needs urgently Ivermectin for his mange, a de-wormer and more food!

That is Susi…

…the last Chihuahua for today…

Susi, Demo and Coja in recovery. Coja is already getting up and soon ready to leave.

Half-paralyzed Armada that arrived with fever from the beach 2 days ago can be spayed today. She has slept in a box since then, has eaten for 3 and enjoyed caresses. She can use the better one of her hind legs somewhat more but the second remains paralyzed and hangs down like a piece of wood.

Julia spays the young bitch which doesn‘t show any signs of ehrlichiosis or a previous pregnancy despite her origin.

Hardly awake she is already seeking affection again. Kim is talking to herself: „Can’t put a dog handicapped like this back on the street…“ she murmurs.

Cindy from the reception is doing all she can to keep the 4 puppies amused, not an easy task…

Regularly she takes them out of their box to play or pee.

Abel has promised to adopt little Wendy. We try to talk him into taking 2 so that they can play together and are not alone when Abel is not at home. At the moment it doesn’t look like he wants to…

It‘s Pedro’s turn…The sick leg hurts. He doesn‘t step on it anymore.

Judy and Francine are anaesthetizing him on the floor.

He goes to sleep right away…

…and is lifted on the table to be intubated.

Monika neuters him first.

Then the amputation of the injured leg begins.

The tourniquet prevents the bleeding of the big arteries.

The bone is exposed.

Now the saw does its work very precisely…

Done! The stump can be sewn up.

Pedro is a strong dog. His organism copes with the surgery without any problems.

Finished! And looking very neat!

Pedro recovers surprisingly fast…

…and gets up right away again!

Only the bandage which he gets now doesn’t enthuse him…

The day is not over yet…The little male with the swollen face comes for his last rinsing

Anna injects him a last dose of antibiotics. Then he is released from medical care.

This Pitbull puppy has no control over its hind legs. Somebody sat on him – its mother according to the owner - and now its hind legs slide away sideways. With the equipment available it cannot be diagnosed if the ligaments are overstretched, a nerve is crushed or the spine was injured. The vets tape the legs. That is all they can do.

Also with taped hind legs the puppy still won’t walk.

We can only hope that this very young organism will heal by itself

Also this older bitch has a big mammary tumor. But the owners don’t want her to get spayed. Only the tumor shall be removed because they still want to breed with her to sell the puppies as Chihuahuas! When they are small enough, many people don’t see the difference. Their status as favorite lap dog doesn’t guarantee Chihuahuas a good treatment. Puppies are often taken away from their mothers much too early to stay particularly small which raises their value and although trading of puppies is forbidden according to article 2 of the Dominican animal welfare law 248-12 traders often can be seen at the side of the road offering tiny, apathetic and completely debilitated puppies for sale. Mostly they have a life expectancy of only a few days.

Last patient of the day is pretty Rottweiler bitch Tatcha.

One more time the whole emergency program is necessary…

Tatcha stops breathing, pukes…

…and needs oxygen and emergency drugs. But she makes it!

Then it’s time for the Good bye photo: Judy and Francine return to Sosúa. I promise them that it won’t take 4 years again before we meet next time!

Diti, the cute filigree dog with the number 18, has to return tomorrow.

End of the day! 2 tired but happy surgeons who have accomplished an awful lot and a tri-color cat that will spend the night with Julia…Tomorrow is the last day of the operative!

Saturday, April 9th, last day of the operative: Diti, yesterday’s number 18…

…is today number 1!

Alisha and her owner, a wise old man who says: „No more babies regardless if she is pregnant or not.“ Unfortunately here still many people disagree with the spaying of pregnant animals. This is a probably religiously motivated misguided way to show respect for life, a life with no chance of survival!

Alisha’s owner observing the preparations for surgery.

Monika does her first cut of the last day with a big smile on her face…

During this operative the surgeons were frequently struggling with the extremely short ligaments of the ovaries of their female patients.

This was the case also with Alisha and Monika has to search deep inside the belly to find the ovaries…

And Alisha, being not a young bitch, has of course ehrlichiosis and is bleeding accordingly. But she is not pregnant and gets through the surgery very well.

Cosita is the first of three bitches that are being brought to be spayed today by their young owners.

Anna listens to Bioti’s heart beat. Yes, that sounds all right, Bioti will get neutered today.

Cosita getting spayed

3 surgeons at work; Anna neuters Bioti, Monika spays Alisha and Julia has Cosita on her table. A very harmonious sight…

The pretty male Benji is already waiting for Anna outside…

The puppies have escaped from the watchful eyes of Cindy and discover the recovery station. That won‘t do at all!

Bioti and Cosita are already waking up again when Benji arrives in the recovery station.

very proud owners with their pets that are the next ones in line.

Lisi, a mix of God knows what, is what they call here „ a longhaired Chihuahua“…

Lisi gets spayed by Julia.

Colita shows signs of beginning mange. She has come with her son.

The owner adores his dogs, here with Colita’s son…

…and is very happy when he has them both on his lap again after the surgery.

The boys who have brought Cosita are back with

other dogs, the very frightened Paloma…

…and Luna, a Chihuahua-mix.

It is impossible to prepare Paloma. As soon as anyone wants to touch her she starts to bite. Her young owners can’t comfort her. I take the leash and go with her to the bathroom, a quiet, safe place where also the cats were anaesthetized. Here behind closed doors I take the time to calm Paloma down and eventually I can put a muzzle on her. Julia injects a dose of Acepromazin to relax her. After that everything runs smoothly.

The whole afternoon the boys are waiting patiently for their dogs.It’s getting already dusky when they are finally ready to leave. The boys put them into cardboard boxes, load them onto their shoulders and march away…

Theresa has brought 2 new puppies from the beach. She has found them underneath a boat, much too small to live on their own. Kim is slowly getting desperate!

Benji is ready to leave. The whole family is watching as he gets packed into his wheel barrow…

Benji and his clan are taking off…

Abel is defeated! By Wendy and Glendy!

These kids have been constantly hanging out with the puppies during the last days. They belong to the family that lives now in the buildings of the former GEZ project where our operative took place.

Finally they have got the permission from their family to adopt the siblings of Wendy and Glendy. I am a bit wary about this adoption. These children surely love animals and in the Caribbean children grow up quickly but aren’t these ones here a little bit too young? I have observed in the last days that they already carry a great deal of responsibility for their younger siblings, twins of about one year just beginning to walk. Adults were rarely to be seen. But the criteria for adoptions are of course different here and Kim has to take care of over 80 dogs. She will have to keep a watchful eye on the puppies in Las Pascualas. Later this afternoon a young woman of the family appears – the mother? - and takes one of the puppies that Theresa brought. This one we’ll see soon again…

Oh no! But I didn’t tell anybody!

But all of a sudden there it is, a giant Caribbean birthday cake!

Kim is smiling. She has sent her „secretary“ Geidhy to all the bakeries of Santa Barbara to find the most beautiful cake for me and Geidhy knowing Kim’s preference for this color returned saying: „It is blue!!!“

The cake disappears surprisingly fast…!

Already days ago Julia and Monika have decided: „ Anna will spay the last bitch!“ And here she is, little Senbi…

Senbi’s young owner observes everything with a big smile. Does he think: „When I’m big I’ll do the same…“? Not that easy in a country where education is still a privilege!

Anna spays her first bitch being photographed from three sides. The proud owner of Colita & son takes pictures, the boy with his handy and me…Anna is fully concentrated and doesn’t seem to notice us.

And Senbi thanks her!

Time to open the champagne and have a drink to a very successful operative! But suddenly an emergency arrives!

A male Chihuahua has interfered in the fight of 2 bigger males and one of them has bitten the Chi’s hind leg.

The little paw is swollen and already black, hardly attached to the leg anymore. Preparations for surgery start immediately.

An amputation is the only option to prevent a sepsis.

Monika exposes the bone, just like she had done it with Pedro…

…and saws through the tiny bone…

Soon the stump is sewn up.

The little guy shortly after in Kim‘s house where he shall stay for the next days until he is stable…

Armada, the half-paralyzed bitch and the second puppy from the beach go to Kim as well. I get copies of all the notes that Cindy took down at the reception and I am surprised to read that almost everybody who brought his animal to get spayed or neutered payed something on a voluntary base to contribute to the expenses of the surgery.

85 animals altogether were spayed and neutered during the last 5 days.

The next days are reserved for a short vacation. Anna will stay with a friend at the hotel Bahia Prinzipe in Samaná, Julia and Monika have booked a bungalow in Las Galeras. But of course we will see each other during this time and visit some places together. And Kim and I will have time to plan future projects…

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