Spay And Neuter Clinics
Spay and Neuter Operative on Barbados
with Dr. Katja Schirren
October 3rd – 17th 2016
Her mother accompanied Dr. Schirren on her trip to Barbados.
It started a year ago when I received an answer from Barbados to one of our cross posts to our Caribbean colleagues - in German! In the course of developing our site Animal-friendly hotels in the Caribbean I had been communicating with animal welfare activists on Barbados the entire previous year about the possibilities of a spay and neuter operative but all I had learnt was how difficult it was to get a permission from the authorities. This time it was different. Petra Bellamy, at the time secretary of „The Hope Sanctuary“, sent us immediately the application forms for a temporary work permit and when we realized what a wonderful, extraordinary shelter „The Hope Sanctuary“ is we knew that we were going to spay and neuter there no matter how difficult it was going to be!
Starting from very small beginnings, facing enormous difficulties and always threatened by financial disaster The Hope Sanctuary was developed.
It started when Cornelia Coulthrust began to adopt dogs that were abandoned near her office. Soon there were 22 and Cornelia had to find a place for them. 2003 she rented a horse stable in the Hope Road and when Cornelia had gathered 55 dogs, more than a private person can feed, she founded The Hope in 2004.
An odyssey from place to place followed in search for a suitable shelter…
…often desperate and afraid to find no home for the growing number of animals.
When the right place was finally found enormous challenges had to be met to create The Hope Sanctuary as it is today. Cornelia wrote the story of The Hope down. It will appear on our web site in full length when the site introducing our new partner on Barbados is finished.
The Hope Sanctuary today:
More than 18.000 square meters of land at the east coast of Barbados and a four bedroom house…
…overlooking the Atlantic belong to The Hope Sanctuary.
Coconut palms line the path to the beach.
The waves of the Atlantic are not for unskilled swimmers…
The cats live in three large catteries and four indoor areas.
Plenty of toys and possibilities to climb…
…and interesting visitors…
…keep the cats entertained.
The Hope cats welcomed Dr. Schirren in a very friendly manner.
Dogs don’t live in kennels at The Hope Sanctuary.
They live in groups in 30 „dog gardens“ that enclose the indoor areas.
Depending on the number of dogs the gardens vary in size from 50 to 140 square meters.
A small forest…
…and 4 large play areas…
…provide plenty of space to run and romp.
The youth enjoying themselves…
On the way to the playground…
At the Hope Sanctuary a lot of effort is put into keeping the animals entertained and busy.
The Hope believes in fun and play as therapy for traumatized dogs.
Friends enjoying a bath on a hot day …
The Hope has space for more than 200 animals. About 80 dogs and 50 cats were at the shelter during the clinic of Dr. Schirren.
The Hope cares not only about the welfare of animals but also about the environment and people with special needs and problems. Current is produced by solar panels, rain water is collected in a cistern and a biogas plant is planned to change dogs’ and cats’ excrements into methane gas. The Hope is also a sanctuary for birds, frogs, mongooses, insects and other wild animals. Flowerbeds were planted to attract bees and a pond with water lilies offers refuge to dragonflies. Not far from The Hope Sanctuary there is a therapy center for drug addicts and The Hope has run a program using the therapeutic effect the contact with animals has on patients from there and with youth at risk on their way to stability and health. The Hope wants to extend this program and acquire 2 caravans to accommodate people who want to continue to work with animals after completing their therapy and maybe even find employment in this field of work. Another idea is to train suitable Hope dogs to assist disabled people.
Despite all these brilliant ideas and ambitious plans The Hope Sanctuary was struggling 2016 through a very serious financial crisis that threatened the existence of this wonderful shelter. Throughout the process of applying for Dr. Schirren’s work permit and preparing the operative we received again and again the message from Barbados: „We don’t know if we can keep the shelter open ‘til the end of the year!“ It wasn’t until Dr. Schirren had returned to Germany that we received the relieving news that Cornelia had - once again! – managed to procure a credit until 2017 when a new sponsor will become active for The Hope.
Dr. Schirren was the first vet in 6 years who spayed and neutered for The Hope Sanctuary. 2006 - 2010 a British sponsor had financed a very successful spay neuter program with a bus as mobile clinic, 2 vets and 2 assistants. Over 5000 dogs were spayed and neutered during these years. He also hired a full-time educator who visited schools daily and taught children to love and care for animals. This sponsor had also extensive plans to develop animal welfare on Barbados in cooperation with the government. The authorities that were quite enthusiastic at first soon lost interest and so the sponsorship finally ceased.
Dr. Schirren was right away thrilled by the shelter. And something else she noticed immediately: There are hardly any stray dogs on Barbados. Responsible for that is the government-run Animal Control program. Strays are caught and euthanized unless animal welfare organizations have capacities to receive the animals. There are a lot of stray cats though.
Dr. Schirren spayed and neutered mainly animals with owners and some of The Hope Sanctuary. During the years when the mobile clinic existed, the killing rate of Animal Control could be reduced by 26%. But the years without spay and neuter clinics showed their effect. Like everywhere where there hasn’t been spayed and neutered in recent times people showed little interest. Already while preparing the operative we had noticed the difficulties in listing spay and neuter candidates. Dr. Schirren flew with material for 100 surgeries but operated only about 50 animals, 30 dogs and 20 cats.
There were a few more male dogs than bitches. Many owners had adopted their pets from The Hope Sanctuary. The Hope re-homes in an exemplary manner with controls before and after the adoption. The numbers of spayed and neutered animals will surely rise again in 2017 when the new sponsorship provides the means for regular clinics. The average age of the animals was another sign that no vet had been operating for The Hope in a long time. Most of the animals were already 5 – 6 years old. There where regular spay neuter clinics are held the patients are usually a lot younger and many females are spayed before the first heat.
A huge problem on Barbados is animal abuse and neglect.
60% of the dogs on Barbados are chained…
…or locked up in tiny cages as these four…
…often without enough food and water.
The chains often grow deeply into the flesh of the neck causing cruel, painful wounds.
Even cats are kept tied up.
When The Hope can’t remove the animals…
…they try to improve their life by educating the owner and providing shelter, food, medication and running leads.
The Hope – a name resulting from the shelter’s first temporary address – describes perfectly what the sanctuary stands for: All animals that arrive here leave terrible traumatizing experiences behind them…
…like little Hugo whose owner bashed his face in…
…because the puppy had pulled the laundry off the cloth line!
Hugo survived and today he can laugh again!
Also little Tippy arrived completely traumatized…
…with terrible wounds around her neck…
…there where the chain had grown deeply into the flesh.
Today Tippy lives happily with her friends…
Beautiful Cocky shows no more signs of her past…
…but she also was a victim of the cruel chaining before she came to The Hope.
Buffy arrived emaciated with severe mange.
Today Buffy has a beautiful coat and loves romping around with her friends.
Mango was a chained up skeleton.
Today she enjoys the luxury of her „dog garden“ together with her friend Chutney.
Also Rosebud, who was tied to a car tire without protection from the tropical sun or torrential rains…
…has learnt to smile again at The Hope Sanctuary.
Here they have all found a haven where they can be finally happy.
Everywhere only beaming faces…!
Those that don’t find a forever home stay, some of them for the rest of their lives, like Dwight who enjoys his “retirement age” here.
Dwight was found chained up in a deserted house, left to die of starvation.
He was so weak that he couldn’t stand up anymore. His first meal he ate lying down.
He had to be carried to The Hope Sanctuary.
Countless ticks had settled in his ears.
Slowly Dwight recovered…
He gained strength and was able to sit up again…
Then he began to walk and started to make friends…
Today Dwight is a healthy well-nourished senior who enjoys his old age.
Dr. Schirren and her mother landed on Monday, October 3rd. Cornelia and 2 volunteers picked them up at the airport. Tuesday was spent preparing for the surgeries.
The table was too low and had to be adjusted to the appropriate height for the surgeon.
But – what a luxury! – The Hope has a functioning autoclave!
A few cats and a bitch from The Hope Sanctuary were spayed that day.
On Wednesday the first patients from outside arrived, among them a huge male Bullmastiff.
It took 3 helpers to lift the giant on the table.
One bitch had an open tumor at the mammary gland that had to be removed.
A little tom cat was brought with an injured tail that was amputated.
Adrian, a trained veterinary technician who has also worked in the States, was there to help Dr. Schirren. He proved to be a highly qualified, competent and excellent assistant.
Also on Wednesday Hope cats landed on Dr. Schirren’s table…
…as well as 3 bitches…
…and 3 males.
The bathroom served as recovery for cats…
…and for dogs…
…and also as a safe place to get shy cats from their box into the net to anaesthetize them.
On Thursday volunteer Melissa brought the animals of her relatives to get spayed and neutered. There was one emergency: A little bitch stopped breathing, her tongue turned blue. She needed oxygen, emergency drugs and a lot of time to wake up again. A small male was brought with fever and all signs of Ehrlichioses. He wasn’t neutered; a therapy with Doxycycline was prescribed instead.
On Friday volunteer Jeremiah brought a bitch and a male that weren’t spayed and a neutered because they were too skinny. The owner, actually known as a good pet keeper, was devastated. She had been gone for 3 weeks and the person that should have taken care of the dogs had obviously neglected them.
Most animals had fleas and ticks and, like everywhere in the Caribbean, Ehrlichioses is also on Barbados one of the most common diseases. One neutered male was returned with a scrotum hematoma. He also got a cure with Doxycycline.
Adrian wasn’t there on Saturday and therefore this should have been the day to get feral cats operated but the shy animals hadn’t gone into the traps. Apparently one had failed to feed the cats in the traps for a while to get them used to entering before trying to catch them. Dr. Schirren operated only one cat from The Hope that day.
On Sunday Adrian was back and it was a busy day. The ovary of one bitch broke during surgery, the entire belly had to be opened up to stop the bleeding and complete the surgery.
One cat came in an advanced state of pregnancy…
It was the only pregnant cat during the whole operative.
One couple brought a cat that had given birth a short while ago and was still nursing. One male dog turned out to be a in cryptorchid.
Surgeries continued on Monday.
Tuesday was a day off and Dr. Schirren and her mother visited Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados and the famous „Flower Forest“, a huge botanical garden full of rare and precious tropical plants located in the center of Barbados.
The next 3 days Dr. Schirren continued to spay and neuter.
On Friday she operated 4 cats and 5 dogs.
This is Lucky, the last patient of Dr. Schirren. The owner of the little bitch sent her this photo with a big Thank you to Germany.
On Friday night Dr. Schirren and her mother drove to the west coast of Barbados where they spent 2 days on the white sandy beaches of the platinum coast before they flew back home.
On their last day they went sailing…
…and met tortoises when they went snorkeling. Tortoises visit many Caribbean islands to lay eggs on beaches that are always strictly guarded to protect this endangered species.
We will continue to work together with The Hope Sanctuary in 2017. Cornelia wants to start the former spay and neuter program again with the help of the new sponsor. The 2 vets who took part in it are still on Barbados and willing to participate again. For us it will be a lot easier to help with the financing of medication and material than to obtain work permits and fly in German vets. Cornelia would like to get a vehicle to collect animals for the clinics and return them afterwards to their owners instead of running a mobile clinic in order to be better prepared to deal with emergencies. Especially in the field of education and raising awareness we have a lot in common with The Hope: We are equally convinced that the education of children and adolescents to become animal loving adults which has to start at school is the only way to change the local attitude towards animals, to diminish cruelty and arrive at a society capable to show more empathy and responsible behavior towards other beings. 2017 Petra Bellamy will fly for us to Dominica to get the excellent Humane Education program of the Humane Society of Dominica that up to now exists mostly orally. The Humane Society of Dominica will hold a workshop for Petra so that she can take the program down which will be set into a curriculum to be available not only for The Hope but to all who need it. Brutal illegal dog fights are a big problem on Barbados as on most Caribbean islands. The betting is a very profitable business that attracts many people with criminal energy. In most cases neither authorities nor animal welfare activists are able to stop these criminal activities. Barbados has strict laws against dog fights that aren’t put into practice and have just as little effect as similar laws on other islands. Cornelia wants to try to get people away from the cruel illegal business of dog fighting by introducing legal competitions like weight pulling for dogs, supervised by vets and financed by pet food companies.
We hope that with the introduction of a Humane Education program at schools a new generation with empathy and responsibility for other living beings will be raised and that members of this generation will take over important tasks of animal welfare work in their communities and help to educate their compatriots. Animal welfare started on most Caribbean islands only a few years ago, between the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century and is mostly practiced by foreign residents who came seeking the sunshine and found its shadows…Our efforts will only be successful and sustainable when we succeed to include and integrate the local people into Caribbean animal welfare…
…and only then will such pictures belong to the past.
Our first cat spay and neuter operative
in Santo Domingo with Dr. Josef Beisl
August 3rd – 18th 2016
Spay and neuter campaign in the name of IHAD, the international day for homeless animals!
In June we were invited by the International Society for Animal Rights to participate in the IHAD 2016 on August 20th, the international day for homeless animals, together with animal welfare organizations from USA, Canada, Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Mexico, Panama, Africa, Malaysia and Singapore, and so we dedicated the campaign to the IHAD.
Already in February when Anja Heß and Alfred Huber spayed and neutered in the Peace Corps villages in Barahona we had promised Peace Corps director Adele Williams to give some aid also to the Cat Lovers RD in Santo Domingo, an animal welfare organization Adele supports.
Dr. Josef Beisl who practices in the rural region where also our association has its seat is accustomed to spaying many feral cats around the farms and was therefore the perfect surgeon for this operative.
On the 3rd of August Dr. Beisl and Julia Sedlmeier started with Rail and Fly to Frankfurt. There the journey ended that day because the flight was overbooked with 6 passengers. Condor accommodated their customers for one night in a luxury hotel of the Steigenberger group. Next morning they flew to Madrid.
A plane of Air Europa was waiting for them there…
…with 2 seats in the Business Class!
Also waiting for them was the next disaster: A suitcase with material essential for the operative was gone! The immediately started search brought no results until their departure.
While the plane crossed the Atlantic and approached slowly Santo Domingo, we followed the search for the suitcase on www.worldtracer.de and the over and over repeated message: „The search continues! Please try again later!”
Santo Domingo, the city with many different faces…
…palaces from colonial days…
…huge shopping malls and houses with windows barred up to the third floor to protect their residents from burglars.
The rich can buy whatever they want…
…including Royal Canine for their pets.
The poor live in corrugated iron huts in huge slums along the river.
For poor animals the garbage dumps offer the only source of nutrition.
In this maze countless cats live a short miserable life unnoticed by people. Their only success: Survival as a species thanks to their incredible fertility. The Cat Lovers RD have dedicated themselves to helping the ignored cats of Santo Domingo and Dr. Josef Beisl and Julia Sedlmeier are on their way to aid them in their cause.
Upon arrival the lost suitcase re-appeared miraculously. Most likely it had travelled on a second plane from Frankfurt to Madrid that had started 35 minutes earlier… Therefore the first photo of Dr. Beisl and Julia Sedlmeier with Emily Espinosa shows tired but happy faces.
Dr. Beisl and Julia Sedlmeier stayed in the hotel El Señorial, only 100 meters away from the location of the operative.
Here, in the hall of the Dominican Scouts the surgeries took place.
On Friday, August 5th, Emily Espinosa, Dr. Beisl and Tammy Simo prepared the hall for the clinic. Ramon, Tammy’s husband, had built 2 spay boards exactly as Dr. Beisl had described them.
The surgery, framed by our IHAD posters which accompanied the campaign…
…together with the IHAD banner.
The table for the conventional method of surgery…
The hall had air conditioning that failed only once and an unlimited supply of tables and chairs.
That allowed for many different stations, an advantage particularly for the surgical preparation. The reception in the Dominican Scout hall was completely separated from the medical area.
The Cat Lovers RD don’t operate an own shelter but support several shelters of different organizations as well as private people who maintain cat colonies and so also a lot of feral cats could get spayed and neutered although the Cat Lovers own only one trap at the present. 80 – 90 % of the animals were strays previously caught by animal welfare groups. All animals were already registered for surgery before the campaign started. Tammy Simo and Emily Espinosa, president and vice president of the Cat Lovers RD, are perfectly organized and leave nothing up to chance.
Every morning before going to work Tammy came with the forms for the spay and neuter candidates of the day and received the animals.
Each cat got a form where its name, sex, age, color and weight was filled in as well as information about behavior, health, if in heat, pregnant or nursing and the life’s situation, if owned, up for adoption or stray and to be released again and so, when and where…The form closed with an explanation about the risks of the surgery and an agreement to the spay/neuter and all necessary medical treatments which had to be signed by the owner or responsible.
The cats were delivered in any sort of container that could possibly hold a cat…
The first patient was Amadeo, an orphan only a week old with an eye injury.
The infant needs feeding…
Amadeo is going to make it, even without a mother. His appetite is great and he gets all the loving care a kitten needs.
Feral cats are emptied from their box into a pillow case and get anaesthetized inside of it.
Peacefully sleeping they re-appear…
Eye drops prevent the dehydration of the open, unblinking eyes during anesthesia.
Then it’s time to get shaved…
A quick shave with a disposable razor takes care of the last few hairs. Then the patient goes to the next station.
Here the belly gets disinfected…
…and covered in plastic wrap, a perfect replacement of drapes.
This cat is ready for the surgeon…
Dr. Beisl spays cats hanging upside down on the spay board!
A novelty for Dominicans which they regard skeptically at first…
What is this gringo doing with these poor cats?
But this perception changes fast with the realization that the cats are spayed much faster with this method and the cuts are particularly small.
José, student of veterinary medicine, learning the new technique.
These coal-black feet and the cute face…
…belong to a little tomcat that is of course getting neutered lying down.
All cats are placed on a heating pad after surgery covered with their medical protocol that accompanies them through the entire surgical process.
It is the second form that each cat and it contains specifications about the dosage of the anesthesia, the surgery, additional health issues and their treatment. Especially common were skin problems caused by parasites, infections or fungus.
Cats that were to be released again got an ear clip to mark them as already spayed or neutered.
The vet would have preferred a tattoo or chip istead of causing another wound but the injury is much smaller than the surgical wound.
And shy feral cats have to be identified visibly from a distance as already fixed.
As one can see, there were quite a few…
When the organism was stable and the temperature was normal again the cats were taken of the heating pad for de-worming and ear cleaning.
Dr. Beisl had been able to obtain Broadline for all cats, an all-round spot on effective against all interior and exterior parasites.
Back in their boxes, the patients sleep off the anesthetics.
12 cats were spayed and neutered on Saturday, the first day of the campaign.
Sunday morning the team drove one and a half hours to a beautiful old house in San Pedro de Macoris that had been built in 1916.
Inside they met the grandmother sitting in a rocking chair.
The old lady seemed a bit in doubt if she should approve of what was happening in her house. On Sunday one goes to church and doesn’t spay cats in the living room!
The furniture was moved to make space...
The surgery was set up on the sideboard in the midst of candles.
It is a god-fearing house, in a corner the psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd…”
José who didn’t miss a day spays already on the spay board alongside with Dr. Beisl although still a lot slower. He will become a very good vet who will hopefully do a lot for the poor animals of his country.
José and Tammy preparing cats for surgery on the dining table.
Also the tomcats are neutered here.
…and other post-operative care are done by Emily on that table as well.
The couch fills up quickly with patients.
Soon there is no more space.
Now the cats are placed on the floor after surgery.
The team worked tirelessly from 11:00 in the morning ‘til 9:00 at night with only one short break and some refreshments.
When Tammy, Josef Beisl, Julia, Emily, José and Tammy’s husband Ramon go for supper to Amables that night they leave 19 spayed and neutered cats behind in the beautiful old house from 1916...
On Monday surgeries continued in the Dominican Scouts hall. In the morning Phillip, a volunteer, was there to help.
This would have been a litter of seven! But altogether there were only about 10 pregnancies and about as many pyometras.
The reason may have been that a lot of the patients were very young.
Reproduction shall be prevented by all means. Only fixed cats are put up for adoption. People adopting kittens are obliged to spay or neuter their pet. The safest is of course when the surgery can be already scheduled at the time of the adoption. There are many vets in Santo Domingo. But rarely can they be afforded by animal welfare organizations and so the most was made of this opportunity. Dr. Beisl spayed and neutered many cats at the earliest possible age. Only one kitten was refused as being too young.
Surprisingly many tomcats were cryptorchids. With this patient the surgeon himself does the post-operative monitoring.
On Tuesday 2 cats with pyometra were spayed.
One of them, Lyndica, had a strong abdominal infection.
She was in a very bad condition and was put on a drip. At night she stayed as „in-patient“ in Dr. Beisl’s hotel room. Next day she had recovered.
Long working days, starting at 8:00 in the morning…On Monday they worked ‘til 8
:00 at night and operated 17 cats, on Tuesday it was 9:00 in the evening when the 18
th cat was done.
In-between a brief recovery beside the sleeping patients…
Wednesday was a day-off, only Lyndica had to be looked after and a cat that had chewed at its suture. Altogether 3 cats had to be treated because they had pulled their suture.
Then new surgical dresses had to be tried for the coming Sunday, the „big day“ when professional photographers and a number of Dominican vets were expected to come.
2 students came on Thursday, Luis and Chantal, the daughter of the president of the Mi Mascota Fundación. 17 cats were spayed and neutered, 11 of them tomcats. One cat escaped and knocked down a bottle of ketamine before she could get caught again. Already at 4:30 in the afternoon they finished.
Time for a visit at the beach…
…the beach of Boca Chica…
In the tropics days and nights are equally long all year round. The sun rises between 6 – 7:00 in the morning and sets between 6- 7:00 at night and so there was only time for one bath before dusk.
. Evening at Boca Chica…
The beach vendors stop for a chat on their way home near Boca Chica’s strange landmark, the flagged surfboard stuck in shallow water.
On Friday Adele Williams brought this tiny red tomcat.
He weighed only 700 grams...
…and his testicles were miniscule.
Besides that he had very dirty ears that needed intense cleaning but as a rescue of Adele he shouldn’t have to worry about his future. 11 queens and 6 tomcats got fixed on Friday.
On Saturday began the preparations for the „big day“at 8:30 in the morning. Also Adele was there
Briefing of the Dominican Scouts that were going to volunteer on Sunday.
16 cats were spayed and neutered despite the preparations for the next day, one of them with pyometra. The day ended at 7:00 in the evening.
On Sunday everything worked out perfectly, the Scouts knew exactly what to do. 2 of them carried the patients from station to station and were there immediately whenever the “cat taxi” was called.
Dr. Pablo Burgos who is a member of the Cat Lovers RD operated together with his assistant Wilkin.
Morelba Rivero owns a veterinary practice together with her husband and son which gives the Cat Lovers a lot of support. Senora Rivero who is still studying and not yet a licensed vet herself employs Dra Cotorrita in her practice. Within one year also Senora Rivero will have her license.
4 students were there, Chantal, Luis, Brian and of course José…
2 colleagues sharing their experiences…
Dr. Beisl and Dr Burgos discussing surgery techniques.
Soon Dr. Burgos gets up while the others continue operating at the table…
He just has to find out more about working on this spay board!
In the back many hands are busy with preparing patients or post-operative care.
The Dominican Scouts are doing an excellent job.
Ears get cleaned, spot-ons are put on against worms and parasites, the fur gets brushed and the nail clippers are waiting to be used...
Nails are clipped carefully when too long.
Dr.Beisl, Dr. Burgos and José. Obviously Dr. Burgos has enjoyed the day with his German colleague very much. 36 cats were spayed and neutered that day.
At the end of the day Dr. Beisl and Julia Sedlmeier receive a gift from the scouts.
Real Dominican Scout neckerchiefs!Finally!
On Monday they experience the Caribbean as everyone imagines it to be…
Life could go on like this!
But right away there is somebody as a reminder that the work is not over yet…
On Tuesday the team drove to the Diakimyi shelter in San Christobal.
A very well-kept cat with collar and leash was awaiting them on the porch.
About 30 dogs and 40 cats live in the shelter.
Diakimyi is run by a lady and her 3 grown children.
The dogs are all beautiful and very friendly.
Still the chance that they will find a forever home is very small.
You have to stay outside! It’s all about cats today!
Surgeries take place in a garage. Wilkin, the assistant of Dr. Burgos has come too.
A table and a chair on top serve perfectly to set up instruments and all other necessary utensils for surgery.
The spay boards are attached to the windows. Among the patients one cat with pyometra…
Tammy doing post-operative care.
9 very young cats are waiting in a box, 3 months old, all of them females…
So small and yet very soon terribly fertile…!
In Germany these kittens would get spayed in a few months but when will the next vet come Diakimyi?
All have made it well through the surgery, also this midget. Only 2 cats were refused, not because they were too young but they were too skinny. They probably wouldn‘t have survived the anesthesia. One cat had been rescued from a garbage bin the day before and was so weak that she was put on a drip.
9 sleeping virgins…
For this cat it was the last litter.
A bit uncoordinated upon awakening…– Where am I?
Also this little cat will never have babies again.
A big pot with rice and beans stands on the stove. The food was delicious, remember Julia Sedlmeiner and Dr. Beisl.
Outside many bowls made from the bottoms of plastic water containers for the dogs, filled with an indefinable mash that has to fill many hungry stomachs. Whatever it contains does the trick. All dogs are well-fed and have a shiny coat.
More cats are brought with the motoconcho.
47 cats were spayed and neutered at Diakimyi, 2 of them pregnant. 2 tomcats were cryptorchids, one of them had both testicles inside the belly.
At 11:00 pm the team drove home on this last day of the operative.
The last day in Santo Domingo has come…
It is reserved for shopping...
…and a visit of one of the beautiful galleries with Haitian art.
And then it says on the return ticket: “The next step of your voyage…” The return flight from Santo Domingo to Frankfurt passed without any incidents.
Once more our IHAD banner was displayed, at an exhibition on the 21st of August hosted by an animal magazine where every animal welfare organization in Santo Domingo was present and many animals were up for adoption.
The International Society for Animal Rights thanked us with this tweet for the participation in theIHAD 2016 and for our commitment to homeless animals.
And while the Cat Lovers RD are still happy about 193 spayed and neutered cats are Adele Williams and the Peace Corps volunteers already looking forward to the vets who will visit the villages in Barahona again in 2017…
Spay and Neuter Operative in Samaná
with Dr. Julia Neumann, Dr. Monika Eickhoff and Dr. Anna Bremus
April 5th – 9th 2016
Isabel Gorski-Grobe who was in the Dominican Republic March 31st – April 14th has published the report about this operative as photographic diary in three chapters:
Spay and neuter operative in Samaná (part 1)
Spay and neuter operative in Samaná (part 2)
Spay and neuter operative in Samaná (part 3)
First Spay and Neuter Operative with Peace Corps in Barahona
with Anja Heß and Dr. Alfred Huber!
February 5th – 19th 2016
The first spay and neuter campaign of the Association for Aid and Support of the Creole dogs and the Associazione suizzera per l'aiuto e il supporto dei cani creoli with the vets Anja Heß and Dr. Alfred Huber in cooperation with Peace Corps took place February 15th – 19th in 4 villages of the province Barahona.
AAdele Williams, director of Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic, und Diana Dau, volunteer.
Peace Corps, a volunteer program run by the US government, was started 1961 by John F. Kennedy to promote peace and cultural understanding and provide assistance in many fields to people in developing countries. Volunteers serve for 2 years after 3 months’ training sharing the local conditions of hardship with the people in the regions where they work.
Already during our first operative in the southwest of the Dominican Republic a request for spay & neuter aid reached me but time and capacities of our team didn’t suffice to extend the campaign to Barahona. I had always hoped that this would become possible at a later date and now, almost 2 years later, the opportunity was there!
The first couple of days of this year’s operative weren’t as successful as expected. Difficulties began already after landing in Punta Cana. The rented cars weren’t available, neither for Anja Heß, Dolores Rohrer and the 2 Swiss volunteers Alessia and Damiana on February 12th nor for Dr. Huber who arrived a day later. Both times it took ages to get other, much smaller cars. Dolores was put out of action by a terrible migraine headache while driving to Santo Domingo which lasted for 36 hours.
The pretty hostel where the team stayed last year when they operated in the favela La Cienaga is closed so rooms in an “apartment hotel” had been booked which turned out to be an ingenious invention demonstrating the highly developed art of improvisation so often found in developing countries. The hotel consisted of a number of vacant apartments in various parts of the Zona Colonial and a mobile phone replacing the reception – but only from 7:00 am until 4:00 pm. This message didn‘t reach the team on the plane. When they finally arrived in Santo Domingo in the middle of the night, four exhausted women, one of them deadly ill, stood in front of a closed door… They had to search for another accommodation for the night and since they weren’t there punctually at 7:00 am the next morning, their apartment was rented to someone else. Luckily the apartment hotel had other vacancies. When Dr. Huber landed with his wife and daughter 24 hours later, he found out that his luggage had stayed in Munich, the rented car wasn’t there and he couldn’t contact the team in Santo Domingo. Around midnight he finally found them. On the 14th the two surgeons wanted to start early to catch up having lost the day before but they couldn’t get in touch with anybody in the favela. Much later they found out that the current had broken down there three days ago, Mena, their contact, had no mobile phone to call them, Mena’s son who had met them last year at the entrance of the favela to bring them safely to the location where the surgeries took place, had gone away to search for a generator and according to Mena it was too dangerous to enter the favela without a guide.
La Cienaga stayed far away and out of reach this time.
It was decided to spend the rest of the day in the national park. The excursion turned out to be quite an adventure, starting with a flat tire followed by roadblocks because of the carnival and a torrential rain storm. Anja commented: “Thank God we aren’t spaying right now outdoors with the rain falling into the patients’ open bellies!”
But the visit of the national park was worthwhile…
…and seemingly pre-historical residents.
On the way to Barahona the next day, via Alonse to pick up Vicky, the Dominican volunteer and material stored there from last year’s operative…
…passing herds of cattle…
…and small picturesque Creole houses.
For the Peace Corps volunteers this was their first spay and neuter operative and they had prepared everything perfectly. They had undertaken the arduous work of convincing people to get their animals spayed, had listed the candidates and found suitable locations for the surgeries and a small hotel for the vets and helpers close to restaurants and local stores.
The schedule they had set up for the four days of the operative, shown in our Spanish flyer, worked out very well. Only on the first day there was a change of plan; Batey Cuatro has to wait for the vets‘ next visit.
The number of surgeries actually performed was amazingly close to the first estimate of approximately 20 animals per village and about 16 in Batey Isabella and was even a bit above these expectations in most places, showing how well the Peace Corps volunteers had prepared and informed the people. Volunteer Sophie, my contact at Peace Corps, fell ill shortly before the operative and had to fly to the States but she didn’t leave without finding a replacement for her village during the time of the vets’ visit and she sent me all phone numbers and email addresses of her colleagues, who kept constantly contact with me during the last days before the campaign to make sure that everything would work out all right.
On February 16th the operative started in Batey Isabella!
The first location was quite a surprise – a church!
The wooden table that normally serves as altar became the operating table on that day…
…the attentive audience…
15 dogs and 2 cats were brought by their excited and a bit worried owners.
As often, especially children came with their animals. Dolores is ready to put the tape with the number of the patient on its forehead while Vicky is waiting in the back to take down the data of the animal. The dog prefers to turn its back to the strange people and hides behind its young owner.
A treat for the kids is very welcome.
Anja Heß, here shaving a dog, commented on the unusual location: „With so much help from above nothing can go wrong!“
This little girl was not so confident. Very scared and motionless she sat with her dog on her lap until it had recovered from the anaesthesia.
Dolores' firm grip substitutes a muzzle during the injection.
14 bitches were spayed that day.
The only male that was brought managed to escape in time.
On the way back to Barahona they passed burning cane fields that seemed strangely attractive to the birds of prey from the surrounding area. The explanation for this: The fields were set on fire on purpose before the harvest to drive out rats and snakes, a welcome meal to the birds. Only this time the fire had gotten out of control, the road was blocked, police and helpers with machetes tried to fight the fire by cutting breaches in the cane.
On the second day the vets worked in Palo Alto in the carpentry shop of the local women‘s organization where pretty furniture is produced.
The women of Palo Alto seem to be quite emancipated. One lady brought a young bitch and a big male while her husband objected strongly in the background. She declared firmly: “I don’t care what my husband says. These dogs are getting spayed and neutered!“
In Palo Alto the vets had to treat the only patient with a severe injury, an open jaw with the bone showing. They couldn’t close the wound completely but Anja Heß has great faith in the usually strong immune system of Dominican dogs.
18 bitches, 4 males…
…and 3 cats were spayed and neutered that day, including the bitch of volunteer Rebecca who works in Palo Alto.
The smallest dog had the most fleas…
Her owner was convinced that the little bitch was dead after having pulled at her ears several times and not getting a response. But In the evening the little dog was wide awake again and the lady left happily with the dog and spot ons against the fleas and ticks.
On the third day the vets went to Los Robles, the village where Sophie works, at that time back in the States and replaced by Diana Dau who does her service in Batey Isabella. Sophie’s bitch was of course spayed that day.
The surgeries took place in a communal meeting place open to all sides.
22 animals were operated, among them 6 cats, 2 of them mothers which had their kittens waiting at home for them. A small boy brought his bitch. He was determined to wait and miss his classes that day. The vets decided that education was more important; the bitch was spayed immediately and her owner could attend school reassured that all was well with his dog.
A lot of very young dogs were brought, among them many bitches before their first heat.
The vets didn’t encounter severe illnesses but many dogs were very skinny.
The children enjoyed the exciting event after school.
On the fourth and last day volunteer Leyla was waiting with dogs and cats in Santa Maria.
Here the church was dead against this „interference with God’s plans“ and so the vets operated in an unfinished building that had been planned as community center once upon a time…
Also here 22 animals were spayed and neutered.
One man came and grabbed an already pre-anaesthetized dog from the table that had been brought by his son. He wanted rather a „contraceptive shot“ and flea medication…
Also Leyla’s cat and the dog of another volunteer were operated.
And then it was already time to leave again, via Alonse where Vicky stayed and Santo Domingo back to Punta Cana where the plane was awaiting them - with engine trouble, just like the year before…
The passengers had to stay for one night in a luxury hotel, Anja had her usual culture shock coming from poverty into affluence…, all exactly like last year!
Very soon I will be there myself and meet the Peace Corps volunteers in Barahona to plan future operatives. I hope also to be able to meet Peace Corps director Adele Williams, a great animal lover who has founded an animal welfare group herself to help the cats of Santo Domingo. And of course we want to spay and neuter her cats too in the future!
Afterwards I’ll travel to Samaná where Dr. Julia Neumann, Dr. Monika Eickhoff and Dr. Anna Bremus will spay and neuter for Kim Beddall in the small town Los Cacaos and from there I will continue to RescátaMe in Punta Cana to plan the further development of our project Tourism and Animal welfare.
And just right in time for the start of the Humane Education project Kim and I have talked about already during my visit in 2012 the Spanish school program of the Costa Rican animal welfare organization ANPA arrived! It shall educate children and adolescents to become animal loving, empathic, responsible adults capable of engaging themselves later on actively in many important tasks in animal welfare in their communities!