During the first week of December Dr. Frank Alfano and his wife Karen came to Sosúa from Massachussets. They didn't come for the first time. Actually they had planned to take a holiday this time but, being the animal lovers they are, they didn't get around to have a vacation. They operated every day and spayed and neutered 32 bitches, 14 males, 12 queens and 3 toms, a total of 61 animals. As with the last clinic held by Dr. Diane Levitan, we could support also this clinic with the donations of:
Thanks to our donators we could support 3 clinics and altogether 364 surgeries during our first year of spay and neuter clinics.
From November 10th to November 13th the second spay and neuter clinic sponsored by the association Aid and Support for the Creole dogs took place in Sosúa. Further assistance came from the WSPA Costa Rica, Pegasus Foundation and the Worldwide Veterinary Services in England.
Dr. Diane Levitan from the States spayed and neutered 49 dogs and cats. Dr. Robert Amelingmeier assisted with difficult eye surgeries. For the first time a Dominican student participated in a clinic: Hamlet Quiones of the University of Agropecuarias Santiago Dominican Republic. It has been our goal from the start to promote the training of local medical staff so that one day spay and neuter programs can be carried out at least partly by local veterinaries.
The association Aid and Support of the Creole dogs was founded 2005 to organize spay and neuter clinics in the Caribbean and to bring veterinaries to the Antilles.We contacted Thomas Busch right away, a vet famous in Germany for his spay and neuter projects in Greece and other countries with a surpopulation of strays. Our only problem:
The island Martinique, where our work began, is governed by French law which demands a proper animal hospital, no temporary or mobile clinic, before permitting spay and neuter projects. And of course we didn't have the money for such a clinic.
2008 our friends from Martinique visited the Caribbean Animal Welfare Conference in Santo Domingo, Dominican republic, and we here in Germany were eager to get all the news from there.
A call for help from the Asociación de los Amigos por los Animales de Sosúa made us sit up straight: "We invite veterinaries, veterinary technicians, nurses and animal lovers from all over the world to come and help us to make our newly built clinic become a success!" Here we were with contacts to doctors whom we couldn't send anywhere and there was a clinic in need of vets…
In no time Judith Liggio and Thomas Busch were contacted and we agreed upon planning a joint spay and neuter project. For us this was the first time our association was able to do what it had been founded for and we were all very moved.
The project was planned as a field clinic in the large community of La Union, where about 1000 roaming dogs need to be spayed and neutered. The building was provided by the community. All equipment and medical supplies had to be brought there.The members of the community were tied in as much as possible in all procedures.They were asked to list all animals in their area which should be neutered, watch out for newly arriving animals and add them to the list, and help with the transport of animals during the clinic.The A.A.A.S organized a drawing contest in school: To divide La Union into districts, where animals would be collected from, the children had to draw maps of the areas they lived in. April 27th the prizes were handed over to the winners of the contest.
In addition to strays animals of poor people were to be spayed and neutered, vaccinated and treated against parasites. In order to develop a better attitude towards animals among the people and strengthen the ties to their own animals they were involved as much as possible in the activities of preparing the animals for the operation and monitoring them afterwards.They were informed about how to treat and take care of their animals properly and received pet food, medication and parasite control. The goal is to enable the community to run their own program for the benefit of the animals. Of course it will take many more clinics to get all animals spayed and neutered and the OP fundus of the Kathryn Neal Animal Relief Fund won't cover all the needed medical supplies, so we are asking here everybody with contacts to vets, veterinary clinics or pharma companies to help us collect medical/pharmaceutical supplies. Here a complete list of the material needed:
Special thanks to Mrs Schumann, a nurse who surprised us with a big parcel of suture, drapes, gauze and surgical gloves. And we thank all donators who have enabled us to send veterinaries to Sosúa from the bottom of our hearts! The participants of this project are:
Martina Patterson, Gabriele Wildfeuer, Marion Krah, Renate and Werner Wegner, Christian Kilanski, H. Kuchl, Katrin John, Bruno Pauliks, Angela Engel, Angelika Cenkl, our treasurer, Mitsch Kohn, Elfi Nachreiner, Andrea Müller,Julia Reichel, Beatrix Szanya, Ute Gerling, Käthe Gritscher, Elfie Ratz, Erika Csatlos, Sofia Busch, Susanne Stadler, Nicole Jarmer, Prima On Tour Veranstaltung GmbH, Gabriele Bisecker Sedlitz, Anja Pusch, Maria Kirfel, Yasmine Bechmann, Jutta Hofmeister, Marianne Waller, Andrea Hagn, Katrin John, Ingrid Frassl, Rumi Becker.(I hope, I didn't forget anyone!) With your help we can prevent the needless and immeasurable suffering of thousands of puppies.
In the beginning we wanted to book the vet's flights with the Dutch Airline Arkefly which offered low prices but in January the prices suddenly rose. We were watching them go üp over weeks, counting worriedly our donstions. Finally we took the last chance, borrowed the lacking sum and booked January 26th 2 flights with Condor for 1612,18 Euro from Frankfurt to Puerto Plata. Donations of the friends of the Creole dogs helped us to pay our debts quickly.
"Ines Leeuw and Thomas Busch are now already a week in Sosúa, more than 100 animals have been spayed and the 300 castrations we hoped for seem within reach." One problem showed right from the start: There weren't enough medical supplies and material at the clinic and no money to buy more.
The first email from Judy: " These German vets are fantastic. They work tremendously fast and if they continue like this we'll have to finish the operative earlier than planned because we have no more material and no money."
The second mail: " We are using less material than expected because a lot of the dogs are quite small (Chihuahuas)but still - the supplies won't suffice for the duration of the operative."
We had been relying on the Kathryn Neal Animal Relief Fund to take care of the medical supplies. Now we learnt that Kathryn Neal, real estate broker from the States and co-founder of the A.A.A.S, had died unexpectedly and much too early. Almost her entire inheritance had been used up to build the clinic and nowadays the Animal Relief Fund depends on donations.
What could be done to prevent an early end of our first spay and neuter project?
Counting our pennies, we came up with the huge sum of 263 Euros and 60 cents!
Elfi Nachreiner, member of our association, sent us a donation. The president of the association "Tierversuchsgegner" (animal experiments' opponents) lent us 500 Euro. In Sosúa a group of German tourists organized a party to collect money for the operative with the german vets.
In the meantime they had run out of catheders. But now we have means again and Thomas Busch can order on-line.Even a freight company could be found which can deliver in time. The operations continue non-stop.
The Dominican people welcomed our vets with great warmth. A hotel offered a room with breakfast for the first two weeks, restaurants sponsored lunches and supper, for the last week an appartement directly at the beach was available.
The Dominicans are fascinated watching the foreign vets at work.
Judy writes: "The people are happy when we come. The volunteers work tirelessly. We meet people whose dogs we neutered 3 years ago. They are our best helpers. They distribute medication and parasite control in the community, help informing other animal keepers about the right treatment of their pets and the importance to have them spayed and neutered, help with the monitoring of the health condition of the stray population in the community and contact us when an animal needs our help. The operative is also getting a lot of attention from the local media. We've been already twice on television. This is our biggest spay and neuter clinic so far."
Back here, in far away Germany we can do nothing else but be infinitely grateful for all the incredible spontaneous helpfulness.
And we hope that the friends of the Creole dogs will continue to help us so that we'll be able to pay back the borrowed money quickly.
"The field clinic in la Union has its flaws: The building, provided by the community, serves its purpose perfectly well as long as the sun shines. The lawn in front of it is used as recovery filled with boxes with dogs slowly waking up after the operation. When the tropical rains pour down, the roof of the field clinic leaks like a sieve and a make-shift roof above the OP-table had to be fashioned in a hurry to keep surgeons and patients dry. The current is cut off frequently, so a generator had to be rented for 25 US $/day. Judy writes: " Most people here live like this all their lives . To them that's nothing remarkable. When a roof leaks, they put up a bucket, if they own one.
The German vets are terrific and completely unimpressed by any difficulties; they never lose their sense of humour. The people of La Union participate enthusiastically. They apply for appointments 2 days in advance. Neighbours bring coffee, snacks and fantastic fruit salads. Restaurants, bars and a German bakery (the best on the island) sponsor breakfast, lunch and dinner. We have so many spectators that we put up a sign:
Entrance fee 100 pesos ! Everybody laughed. Children donated 9 pesos. The children often come for the whole day, help cleaning the boxes or sit with the dogs during post-operative monitoring. I've brought books for them and inbetween the surgeries we have short lessons about the right treatment of animals. Those who can answer all question receive colouring books and pencils as reward. They are thrilled."
Ines Leeuw and Thomas Busch have moved into their appartement at the beach for the last week of their stay. They want to enjoy a bit of the "Caribbean dream" before parting and we are pleased for them.
We don't have the exact numbers of surgeries yet but our dream to save thousands of puppies from being born into a short life full of misery has come true!
Soon we will have photos from the operative for you.
During the last weekend of the operative our contact to Sosúa was suddenly cut off and we didn't get any news for a whole week.We didn't want to disturb Ines Leeuw and Thomas Busch who had to depart to Romania, where their next operative took place, only a few days after arriving back in Germany May 30th. In the meantime we learnt that the reason for the sudden silence on the Dominican side: A broken telegraph pole which didn't get repaired immediately had stopped computers and telephones in Sosúa over a week from functioning. Now we finally have the long-awaited results of the operative:
254 operations: 127 spayed bitches, 51 neutered dogs, 19 spayed queens, 6 neutered toms, 51 surgeries due to cancer or injuries. 49 of the animals were homeless strays, 134 belonged to poor families, 23 had been placed before or taken care of by the community but hadn't been neutered yet. Ines Leeuw and Thomas Busch had already packed and were ready to leave for the airport when somebody rushed in with a bitch. She was spayed in the very last moment.
Following our German vets an American vet operated 41 animals, 31 were spayed and neutered, 10 were operated because of illness. Up to this point 311 animals have been neutered 2009 in Sosúa, and 61 more have been operated because of diseases and accidents.
Also in Germany we had computer problems:
The computer of Thomas Bush had to be sent away for repairs, therefore we didn't receive photos or a report before the vets left for Romania. The article planned to appear in the German pet journal "Partner Hund" (Our partner, the dog) will have to be published in a later edition.
Dr. Busch had a lot of praise for the A.A.A.S clinic, its equipment and the community work of the A.A.A.S. Only the material available was partly of lesser quality and caused problems, especially the catheders without a second port and the surgical glue. Much less material was used than thought in the beginning because a lot of the dogs were very small - which helps us to pay our debts back quicker than imagined.
Judy never misses a chance to teach children how to treat animals. They love the booklets she hands out to them.
At the end of a strenuous day Dr. Leeuw and Dr. Busch enjoy a dinner sponsored by businessmen of Sosúa in the company of A.A.A.S volunteers.
The "Check in" of the field clinic in La Union, a lot of the local people stayed there the whole day to help.
Dr. Busch collects likely candidates for a castration together with the people of La Union
Thomas Busch and Ines Leeuw in the clinic von Sosúa.
Dr. Busch's report about the operative can be found in German under Reisebericht.