Spay And Neuter Clinics
Spay and Neuter Operative in Yonu, Las Terrenas and anchez
with Claudia Bretthauer 10/16 – 10/24/2019
Claudia Bretthauer travels since 2017 twice a year for us to the Caribbean, once to Grenada and once to the Dominican Republic. Actually she had wanted to skip the Dominican Republic this year but we have a new site of operation where help is needed, the region of Yonu.
Schummer runs a horse ranch there for 18 years now taking tourists on trail rides. Her customers come from Punta Cana, the largest All Inclusive center of the Caribbean which is only 40 minutes’ drive away. Here about 100 of these huge mega-hotels are lined up along 50 kilometers of the Bavaro beach; every major international tourist company is represented. But apart from Gabi’s trail riders no tourist ever shows up in the region of Yonu.
No Euro or dollar made in the tourist industry is spent here; all the profit returns to the home countries of the foreign investors from where also their customers originate – as everywhere in developing countries with a climate suitable for vacation spots for sun-seekers and with governments that don’t care enough about their own citizens to pass laws that force foreign investors to invest part of their profits in development aid. And although in Punta Cana big spay neuter clinics are held regularly, no vet team has come this far yet. We are – once again – the first ones…
The small team consisting of Claudia Bretthauer, her partner Alex Nauseda, her sons Finn and Lenn and her friend Sonja who has accompanied Claudia on many operatives before lands in the early morning hours of October 17th in Santo Domingo. Gabi Schummer has sent a driver to take them to their accommodation in Punta Cana.
It is amazing how many people show up for this very first operative in their region. Surgeon Claudia describes them as „open-minded and receptive“ and comments on the animals „All-over condition good, few fleas.“ This is clearly the result of Gabi Schummer’s efforts who has been working relentlessly during the past 18 years for the welfare of animals, educating people and being always available whenever there was an animal in need .Inly a few days after the clinic she was contacted by an old man whose dog had been hit by a car. The man was desperate; he cared very much for his dog and wanted it to be rescued. Gabi took the dog to Santo Domingo for an x-ray.
Unfortunately the examination showed that the spin was broken and the dog had to be euthanized.
Gabi is the whole time on the road bringing animals to the surgeon from the villages Yonu, Momon, Haumas, Las Guanas, Nisibon and Escuela.
The warehouse has current and a bathroom with shower, running water and a flush toilet.
A very sad incident occurred the first day: When opening up the small bitch Shakira Claudia found a spleen three times bigger than the normal size. Although the tissue showed no changes this was an indication of a tumourigenic process of some sort. Claudia suspected leukemia. The little bitch died shortly after. We have to be aware of the fact that our surgeons in the field where prevention of uncontrolled breeding of poor animals is the main goal work without the diagnostic and therapeutic means of well-equipped modern practices and clinics but Shakira ould have been most likely doomed in any case.
The farewell dinner afterwards was definitely no farewell for ever. The last 3 days have shown that there is not only need but also potential in this region. 92 animals at the first operative is a result to be proud of!
On the other side Astrid was waiting, the Swiss whose dog Claudia had amputated last year. She took the team to their new accommodation:
…where veterinarian Hannibal has his practice. Hannibal is the boss of all vets in the region who work for the ministry of agriculture, also of Dr. Francisco in Samaná.
He has rabies vaccinations for all animals and offered a bonus to his employees for promoting the clinic. There were 100 registrations but only 21 animals were brought this day.
The next day was Claudia’s birthday. Already the second time in a row she celebrates it during an operative in the Dominican Republic. Hannibal a his employees sang a serenade for her but afterwards ther was a bad surprise: The team had booked a return flight with a stop over in Puerto Rico not knowing that even for 1 hour on a US tarmac ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is needed. No big deal, they had been able to apply for it online while in the Dominican Republic – but now they found out that Lenn, the 11 year old son of Claudia, wouldn’t be able to get ESTA because it is not issued for children’s passports, even though the child was travelling wih a valif passport and with his mother who had ESTA!
A whole day the phones ran hot in the Dominican Republic and in Germany; the airline, embassies, foreign offices, consulates were contacted on both sides of the Atlantic but bureaucracy proved to be unrelenting. In the end a direct flight had to be booked that left 2 days earlier.
In the meantime Claudia continued to operate as if nothing had happened; 25 animals, 14 bitches, 8 male dogs, 1 cat and 2 tom cats.
October 23rd, the last day of the operative, is reserved for Las Terrenas.
Here the photos of all animals that wer spayed and neutered during this operative!
The next morning he bus takes them to the airport of Santo Domingo.
The flyer for the clinic in Las Terrenas, created with a lot of love, won’t get used. The last 2 days of the operative don’t happen because of ESTA. No reason to be sad though: Claudia Bretthauer will return for the last week in March to continue where she had to leave off this time. But before she flies to Grenada February 21st – 28th!
3rd Spay and Neuter Clinic in Grenada
with Claudia Bretthauer 04/07- 04/14/2019
On April 7th 2019 Claudia Bretthauer flew with 5 helpers to her third operative on Grenada. This time the clinic was held in the north of the island as in 2017.
In the weeks before we had had a lot of excitement because of Buddy who had been adopted by Felicia Krämer during her stay in the Carriacou Animal Hospital as volunteering vet. Buddy was supposed to travel to Germany with Claudia Bretthauer. It took 2 weeks of negotiating with Condor to get the ticket for Buddy. A lot has changed since the little Hari flew 2015 to Germany with Theresa Conze and Dr. Uwe Linzer.
Everything was very easy then and the vets could take Hari right away with them. In the meantime the state of Grenada to which the island of Carriacou belongs has become a so called unlisted non-member country and that means that animals from here have to undergo 4 months of preparation before entering the EU: A month after getting chipped and vaccinated against rabies their blood is tested to show if the level of rabies antibodies is high enough in the case of which they have to wait another 3 months before they can travel. In the southern Caribbean yet another problem has to be dealt with: Animals are only transported on direct flights and in the Lesser Antilles stop overs are frequent. Therefore animals from Tobago and Barbados have tob e sent as cargo via England. Buddy was lucky; the return flight of Claudia Bretthauer and her team went directly to Frankfurt.
The plane is already waiting. Once again a vet team crosses the Atlantic on a spay and neuter mission for the Association for Aid and Support of the Creole Dogs. It is our 43rd operative in 11 years and a lot of them began here, at the international airport of Frankfurt.
The team from left to right: Claudia Bretthauer, her partner Alexander Nauseda, Mirco Flach, his wife Sonja Schmidt – Flach – a veterinary technician - , Larissa from Würzburg and Anais Sauerwein from Körbecke, both studying veterinary medicine in Munich.
Arrival in Grenada at 6 pm local time. Luana, president of the GSPCA, awaited them. After a welcoming drink they drove to the Crayfish Bay Organic Cocoa Estate of Lylette and Kim Russell where Claudia Bretthauer and her team had stayed already in 2017 in the „Little House“ , a wooden bungalow usually rented by backpackers and eco tourists who want to visit the north of the island.
Since Claudia’s last visit a second wooden house has been built, very beautiful but with only 4 beds. “Little House” was occupied and Kim and Lylette hadn’t expected more than 4 people.
Work began on. April 8th. The open air surgery was in the garden of the St. Rose Modern Secondary School in Gouyave. The school is financed by the „Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother“, as the banner shows, a convent of Saint Francis nuns. Gouyave is located at the west coast of Grenada and is the second largest town after the capital St. George with 3378 residents. People here live mostly from fishing and Gouyave is famous for the „Fish Friday“, a weekly festival with music, dance and a great variety of fish dishes served at booths along the streets. „Fish Friday“ is very popular among locals and tourists.
First of all the clinic had to be set up. The surgery had 3 walls. Besides the open side was a wall so that a second side had to be opened to let enough day light in. There were 3 camping tables, no current and water only in bottles or from the school’s toilet.
…18 males and 1 cat. The cat’s mammary glands were infected and had to be removed. One of the male dogs had an internal testicle.
Everybody is relaxing, also the dog catchers Ronaldo and Boy O. Ronaldo slept on the estate and drove the team every morning to work…
…before he started to collect dogs with Boy O, accompanied by Buddy who had meanwhile arrived from Carriacou and was at Ronaldo’s in foster care.
The GSPCA had posted the operative on Facebook but hadn’t had enough people to hang up flyers in Gouyave and the surrounding area.
Nevertheless complained Claudia Bretthauer several times about waiting periods. She doesn’t like that at all…!
The veterinary faculty of Grenada’s university has a good reputation and it is a lot cheaper to study here than in the States. Up to 3 years American students can stay here.
She has learnt a lot and operates already on her own. She wants to continue to work for animal welfare after she has finished her studies. The newspaper is placed underneath the dogs because many of them empty their bladder when anethetized. Its raised corners show how windy it was most of the time.
Claudia wrote after the second day: „Today we spayed and neutered 17 bitches, 13 males, 3 queens und 3 toms. All animals had a lot of fleas. No pregnancies so far. “
Claudia Bretthauer didn’t get the permission to neuter the dog. The owner would have allowed it but his wife didn’t want it. Maybe she still wanted to breed with him. In the Caribbean Rottweilers are considered a valuable possession. Many are therefore chained to protect them against the dangers that free running local mongrels are exposed to.
This bitch was brought to get spayed. She had obviously been saved from being misused in dog fights. Her ears and tail had been docked extremely short to make it harder for other dogs to get a hold of them. But apparently she was rescued in time. Her coat shows no scars or injuries. Dog fights are everywhere in the Caribbean illegal, still they take place on every island.
…but today work ends at noon - „Too bad!“ comments Claudia Bretthauer – because Ronaldo has still other obligations than transporting dogs He plays soccer and that afternoon his team had an important match where he had to take part. 15 bitches, 5 males and 1 tom cat were fixed in the morning.
The next morning also the students went to collect dogs in the neighbourhood. They were quite successful.
Ronaldo, since 3 years a regular member of Claudia Bretthauer‘s Grenada team without whom the operatives simply wouldn’t work, is not only excellent with dogs but also a gifted photographer who sent us beautiful photos of his island and the people who live here.
On Tour with Ronaldo…!
The cat in her luxurious big box and the dogs have arrived in Gouyave and will soon be brought into the shade to wait til it’s their turn to be operated while Ronaldo and his helper start their next round.
Again and again we meet such scenes in the Caribbean that show evidently the affection that many people have for their animals. Especially children who grow up without toys get very attached to their pets that often are their most precious – and only – possession. But also a lot of adults care for their fourlegged companions and for many old people they are company and comfort. Poverty and lack of education cause in the Caribbean and worldwide always the same problems; an increase in family violence being one of them. This is reflected also in the behaviour towards animals in addition to the general lack of knowledge about the proper treatment of animals. Despite all that there is a great chance that animal welfare work will be very successful in the Caribbean in the long run.
Chicken heads boil in a pot over a fire – dog food. If one compares this with the ingredients of industrial dogfood there isn’t much difference.
…or returning them, the children work tirelessly. They are the future of Caribbean animal welfare which will become only then a lasting success when we manage to hand this responsibility over to the local people. Of course it is ridiculous to expect that people living in extreme poverty work all day as volunteers like many people in industrialized countries just as it is ridiculous to visit corrugated–iron huts where ten hungry children live and to take care only of the dogs and cats there. Of course we as a very small animal welfare organization can’t do a lot in regards to humanitarian aid. But we want to - and have to also fort he sake of Caribbean animal welfare! - create jobs at the standard minimum wage for local animal welfare workers who can carry out a lot of important tasks for which the small Caribbean animal welfare organizations have no capacities. Dolores Rohrer has given us a bright example in the southwest of the Dominican Republic.
Here in the poorest region of the country she started an anti-parasitical program with local helpers that ran terrifically. In Alonse dogs were bathed and treated daily. In addition to ridding the animals of ticks, fleas, lice and mites this helped to prevent some of the most common diseases like Ehrlichiose and mange transmitted by these parasites. At the same time the owners of the animals were informed and educated and candidates for the next spay and neuter campaign were listed. Dolores directed the program for several years successfully from Switzerland until it was terminated due to lack of funding – what a shame! Dolores’ most competent helper, esteemed by all vets as assistant, had to go to the capital in search for work because Dolores could no longer afford to pay 60 Euro monthly – sixty! – to the father of four children. Unfortunately we didn’t have the means at the time to help out but we hope that we will find supporters for similar projects in the future. The cost is so small in comparison to the enormous reward! Nobody can teach the Caribbean people the right treatment of animals better than their own compatriots. Better treatment of animals doesn‘t only improve their life’s quality but prolongs also their life expectancy, a key to the success of spay and neuter not only in the case of ownerless strays the territories of which are taken over by other – fertile! – strays immediately after their death. Also animal keepers for whom letting their animals stray is still the most common way of pet keeping will get another (fertile) animal after the former became a victim of the countless dangers of straying.
Also the GSPCA has realized that spay and neuter alone is not enough. They visit schools and educate children as much as possible.
Back in Gouyave…
The puppies have arrived, excited but otherwise in good condition. Regardless of how anybody might feel about puppy spaying: 3 months old puppies will be fertile in 5 months, the vet will return in 12 months. By then many of these midgets could be already pregnant for the second time!
Now the kitchen scale proves to be really useful. Wrapped into a towel the puppy is weighed to determine the exact dose of anesthesia.
Result of the fourth day: 54 animals; 28 bitches, 24 males, 2 cats. That brings a big smile to Claudia’s face!
The next morning surprises with torrential rainstorms that won’t stop. The wind is so strong that Claudia gets hit in the head by a water bottle flying around. Quickly a shelter is constructed with some boards. This video shows the working conditions on April 12th:
The weather doesn’t change that day. Work ends at 2:00 in the afternoon. 15 bitches, 16 males and one cat are spayed and neutered.
Also on the last day a litter of puppies gets operated. The first one is already awake again while the others are still sleeping. Statistically we always assume an average of 5 puppies per litter and about 10 puppies per bitch and year. Here we see that the number can be a lot higher.
The term dog catcher for Ronaldo and his helpers isn’t really correct, actually they should be called dog collectors because most dogs in the Caribbean have owners that let them stray. Larger packs of really ownerless dogs survive only at garbage dumps or near tourist resorts where they are constantly threatened by poisonings. Normally Caribbean dogs are seen in pairs or alone seeking for food.
The few ownerless dogs in villages or small towns are usually known by the residents and often fed together with the own dogs. Some receive also names chosen because of their looks or places where they spend a lot of time. This bitch is called „Old lady by Rasta shop“.
Spay and Neuter Op. in Alonse, La Cienaga and Boca Chica
with Anja Heß, Ingrid Stegemann, Dr. Alfred Huber and Dolores Rohrer 1/3 - 1/11 2019
January 2nd Anja Heß, Ingrid Stegemann, Dr. Alfred Huber and Dolores Rohrer flew to the Dominican Republic. These first photos that Anja Heß sent from there clearly show her pleasure to be back although this is her fifth trip to the region and she knows that hard work lies ahead of her.
At 3 am on January 3rd Anja Heß, Ingrid Stegemann and Dr. Alfred Huber landed in Santo Domingo, picked up their rental car and drove to their host Adele Williams.
After a rest they sorted materials they had left at Adele’s after their last clinic, went shopping and returned then to the airport to pick up Dolores Rohrer who had taken a flight from Switzerland via Spain and landed in the afternoon.
Dolores is back!
The president of the Associazione suizzera per l'aiuto e il supporto dei cani creoli has initiated the project Dominican Republic Southwest 2013 after she travelled to this poorest, least developed region of the country for years with Dominican friends who live in Switzerland today but were born and raised in the southwest.
During the past 3 years her jobs in Switzerland hadn’t allowed her to join the team. Therefore the vets hadn’t been able to spay and neuter in places like Alonse and the favela of Santo Domingo where Dolores‘ contacts and her knowledge of the Spanish language are needed to hold a clinic.
Immediately after her arrival the team drove to Alonse and started work the next day.
12 bitches, 4 males and a cat were spayed and neutered on the first day.
This is the bitch Dormenta of Senora Aileira which was spayed on 01/06/2019 by Anja Heß in El Corozo. The camera shows the right date but not the local time…
The favela where no police, fire brigade, ambulance or garbage trucks go was visited by our vets 2015 for the first time…
The 1 / 8 was a day off with time to sleep in, have a relaxed breakfast and stroll through the Zona Colonial. In the afternoon the team drove to Boca Chica where they were received by Mara Brasola who had already organized last year’s clinic here.
Nancy, one of the volunteers, was a student of veterinary medicine who could already neuter male dogs and cats. She was a great help for the team.
Already the first bitch was an emergency. She had given birth to a dead puppy 2 days ago and still had 3 dead puppies inside her womb as well as a sticker sarcoma the size of a walnut.
Dr. Alfred Huber stayed a few days longer in the Dominican Republic and operated 6 more cats for the Cat Lovers RD after the other vets had left.
A great Thank you to all helpers, donators and sponsors who enabled us to do this operative! We had hoped to finally open the planned feeding station for the beach dogs of Boca Chica during these days but the town’s supervisor who has to be present for the construction of the foundation on public land was on holidays so we have to be patient once more.