At 2 am on 10/15 Claudia Bretthauer landed with her sons and 2 assistants in Santo Domingo and met there 2 other helpers who came directly from a Cuban holiday.
A van took them to a bungalow with swimming pool kindly offered by its owner, an American lady, as accommodation for the team during the operative. There had been no surgeries scheduled for this day at the practice of Coco Dog where Claudia had already operated last year because Monday is their busiest day of the week with a lot of clients; much needed customers. But for Claudia an operative starts as soon as she lands; it’s pointless to argue! And so Patricia Jakobs arranged quickly a temporary clinic for the afternoon on the porch of a Dutch friend only an hour’s drive from the bungalow.
Already the first patient was a pregnant bitch.
She got a yellow ear tag as all dogs did without owners that were released again after surgery.
13 animals were operated that afternoon, 10 of them were bitches…
…1 was a little male…
…and 2 were tom cats.
On the next morning the team went for 3 days to El Limón.
The operative there was organized by Kim Beddall, transportation was arranged by Vida Animal, a small group founded by a French and a Dominican lady who supplied also drinks and refreshments.
In El Limón a big room was awaiting them.
Posters at the reception showed the medical services the animals received in addition to the surgery: Treatment against ticks and fleas and rabies vaccinations. Kim had managed to obtain enough vaccines from the ministry of public health so that every animal could get a shot.
All the equipment hd been brought here from Samaná…
…including stainless steel operating tables.
The waiting area in front of the reception was quickly crowded...
…and people had to wait on the street in front of the roofed area.
Distemper was going around n El Limón during the time of the operative and many dogs died from it. Among Claudia’s patients there were 8 infected animals, 6 of them were treated, 2 had to be euthanized because they showed already neurological disorders. Even weeks after the campaign Kim Beddall reported further victims.
Claudia‘s partner Alex accompanied her for the first time and proved to be a talented assistant right away, preparing medication while Claudia operated in the back…
…shaving dogs‘ bellies…
…or carrying the patients to the operating tables.
Anais has been participating already in last year’s campaign where she mainly sewed. This time she spayed and neutered herself.
Claudia Bretthauer observing the work of David, one of the students who joined from Cuba.
Anais and David spaying a bitch together in 40 minutes. Claudia Bretthauer is satisfied with their performance.
Sandra, the second student who came from Cuba, is working equally well.
Both operating tables are never empty.
bitches were spayed on the first day in El Limón…
…, one with a mammary tumor, as well as 6 males…
…and 2 cats.
Patients of the first day…
Abika, the nummer 20, awaiting surgery…
Chiquitica and Nino, 2 Chis with a lot of character…
Amarilla, the number 33, scared and timid…
Princesa, the last patient that day with the number 53 sitting very bravely on the scale…
The next day started with a euthanasia; a dog had been hit by a car, his spine was broken and his hind legs were paralyzed. 17 bitches, 4 males, 4 queens and 2 tom cats were spayed and neutered that day.
Tourists brought 4 cats from their hotel.
They waited patiently for hours until the cats got fixed and also afterwards when the cats wer recovering until they could take them back with them.
To us these are wonderful experiences showing that we succeed in reaching people with our program Tourism and Animal welfare, teaching them not to look away and to act correctly when encountering animals during their vacation instead of feeding them thoughtlessly everywhere encouraging begging and other unwanted habits like entering tourist areas in search for food that bring animals in danger to get poisoned.
A hernia was operated also that day and one dog with a lot of festering pimples had to be reated.
Buddy Basenji, first patient of the last day, had an open fracture at his front leg. He had been hit by a car 3 months before.
The leg had to be amputated…
…with a clean cut…
The wound was infested with maggots, the leg stiff and necrotic.
The surgery went well…
…and Buddy Basenji seemed to recover but several weeks after he died of anemia. Was the leg amputated too late? Did he suffer from severe ehrlichioses? We’ll never know…RIP Buddy Basenji! 19 bitches, 4 males und 2 cats and an open hernia were operated on the last day in El Limón. A cat with a litter of four was brought to be euthanized which of course didn’t happen!
Claudia Bretthauer, the mayor of El Limón and Kim Beddall at the end of 3 very successful days with 103 spayed and neutered animals, perfectly organized by Kim the way she always does it.
The next 3 days Claudia Bretthauer worked in Las Terrenas in the practice of Dr. Elias and Lucilu.
2 professors, several vets and a group of students from Puerto Rico were waiting there to learn from her, altogether 20 people.
They had been invited by Dr. Elias whose uncle is teaching at the university of Puerto Rico.
It got cramped in the little practice…
Aside from teaching Claudia Bretthauer managed to spay and neuter 18 animals that day. One patient she sewed up without removing anything: It was a hermaphrodite with vagina and penis but without ovaries. Another 13 surgeries were performed by the other vets. Dr. Elias operated a bitch with a womb that was grown together with the abdominal wall on one side and because of a tumor also with the spleen on the other side. Inside of this womb he found a decaying fetus! Womb and spleen were removed, the bitch survived.
Several times Claudia Bretthauer had to interupt her own work to help young surgeons because ligatures slipped or ligaments of the ovaries were very short causing problems. One dog and a cat had to be opened up again because the stitches didn’t hold and bleedings occurred. It seems that our principle to separate training and field work is reasonable after all.
Sabrina celebrated her 30th birthday that day…
…and work ended a little bit earlier as usual, followed by a beach party
The next day Claudia Bretthauer gave the students from Puerto-Rico a lecture on stitching techniques.
After that no animal had to be operated twice.
Now the surgical technique of Claudia Bretthauer is being taught at the faculty of veterinary medicine at the university of Puerto Rico.
And a very content Dr. Elias enjoys a well-deserved break.
2 horse lovers who understand one another…Dr. Elias on the back of a beautiful palomino and Claudia Bretthauer, a very successful long distance champion.
Claudia‘s sons…She takes them with her whenever possible and they have already seen a lot of the world and make new friends everywhere very easily.
The older one of Claudia’s sons enjoying a meal right beside an anesthetized dog awaiting surgery, for the boy a very normal sight.
The veterinary technician from the US who helped already last year was there again and, the same as last year, she donated her whole year’s vacation to the campaign. 54
Spaying of a very pregnant bitch…
In this operative the birth of 60 puppies was prevented that were already underway and another 2-3000 puppies that the 231 spayed bitches would have given birth to in the following year. Only those who have ever tried to find a good home for a single dog - which can take months or not work out at all – can really appreciate the work of vets who fight against this reproductive flood, the source of so much misery.
As already last year nearby restaurants sponsored dinner every night.
On the 3rd day a Swiss lady brought her dog for an amputation. It had been hit by a car years ago and had a stiff, paralyzed leg ever since that it was dragging behind. Apparently the dog was bothered by that because it tended to mutilate itself by constantly biting and gnawing the leg. As a three-legged dog its life will be happier.
A bitch was brought with a sticker sarcoma and a male urinating blood after having been neutered, a problem that could be solved medically.
A big team says Good bye after a 3 days operative in Las Terrenas.
The last 3 days of the campaign were spent in Sanchez where Claudia worked again in the Red Cross station. There is no running water in all of Sanchez. The vet there has the function of a public veterinarian but is no surgeon. He was incredibly kind and helpful and even cleaned the floor himself.
All animals spayed and neutered in Sanchez were brought by their owners.
They were brought in sacks…
…bags, baskets and whatever else had been at hand. Some owners wanted ear tags for their animals actually only for strays.
On 10/22 a male dog was brought that had been neutered a year ago. It was bleeding from the urethra and suffering from a sticker sarcoma cells of which must have existed alrady when the dog was neutered. 2 more males were brought with sticker.
Claudia Bretthauer had her 50th birthday that day. So she finished after the 15th surgery and went to the beach to celebrate…
In the evening the restaurant surprised her with a big birthday cake.
The next day a Chihuahua bitch came that had a dead puppy sticking in her vagina for already 6 days that had a third of the size of its mother. Apparently the father had been a lot larger than the bitch. The surgery couldn’t help her anymore. She died a day later of sepsis.
In the evening the team visited the Swiss lady whose dog’s leg had been amputated.
Something very sad happened on the last day.
A puppy was brought with an injured spine.
Maggots had eaten their way already through to the bone.
The little guy had to be euthanized.
86 animals were spayed and neutered in Sanchez.
In the morning of the 25th the team headed for the airport to take the flight back to Germany.
231 bitches, 48 males,36 cats and 13 tom cats were spayed and neutered during this operative.
Everybody hopes that Claudia Bretthauer will return the next year…But before she will visit Grenada in April nach Grenada where already also a lot of animals are waiting for her!
Already for the second time Claudia Bretthauer flew for us to Grenada, together with her assistants Silke and Sybille and her son Lenn. This time the operative didn’t take place in the north of Grenada on the Crayfish Bay Organic Estate where Lylette and Kim Russell produce organic chocolate but directly in Grenada’s capitol St. George in the clinic of the GSPCA. On the photo from left to right Rita who takes care of permits and import of medical supplies for volunteering vets, Silke, Claudia Bretthauer, Sybille, Lenn with the flag of Grenada and Luana, president of the GSPCA, one of the oldest animal welfare organizations in the Caribbean; behind them Sharon, the vice president.
Arrival on 03/22 at 3:45 pm local time. They were met by Dexter whom they couldn’t miss as he was accompanied by a dog.
The GSPCA has an apartment on the first floor of the clinic with 3 bedrooms. 3 bathrooms, a kitchen and a living room for visiting vets. Claudia, Silke and Sybille went shopping in a nearby supermarket. Afterwards, at 6:30 pm, they visited the clinic…
…and began right away to unpack and set up for the next day.
Also Lenn knew exactly what to do. Same as Silke and Sybille he has accompanied his mother to many operatives before. They are a good team.
The first patients were already there. They slept in their cages waiting for the next day.
The clinic has a reception, a waiting room , 2 treatment rooms, 1 surgery with an inhalation anaestesia machine (which Claudia doesn’t use), an X-ray room…
…2 rooms with cages and boxes to put up animals and a teaching room for students of veterinary medicine from the university of Grenada. Attached to the clinic there is a shelter that can hold about 50 animals.
Everything is ready for tomorrow’s surgeries – Claudia is happy!
This patient was already operated. Part of his leg had to be amputated.
A German vet who previously worked in Namibia and now lives on Grenada volunteers also for the GSPCA and Claudia noticed the frequent amputations that took place while she spayed and neutered. The reason for that is the way the locals keep their dogs. Most dogs on Grenada have owners who feed them but let them stray so they often become victims of car accidents and then an amputation of a smashed limb is many times the only solution.
The car of the GSPCA…
Ronaldo who proved to be an excellent dog catcher already during Claudia’s first operative in the north drove all day through St. George…
…and collected dogs.
Helpers are ready to take care of the dogs upon arrival.
Two or three students were there almost daily. Some were already able to sew up after surgery or even neuter a tom cat or a male dog themselves.
Most of the students come from the United States. The university of Grenada has a very good reputation. The students can study here for 3 years before they have to return back home. During that time the clinic of the GSPCA offers a great opportunity to gain practical experience.
The dogs are delivered and Ronaldo is ready to go off again.
One of the candidates, a male Labrador belonging to a lecturer of the university, escaped after noticing what his owner had missed: The cage opened at both sides and one side hadn’t been locked properly. The owner was desperate and searched all day for him armed with bowls of food. He was neutered the next day when he returned, luckily unharmed.
Lunch was served every day.
Often they also had a barbecue outside.
The first day started at 8:00 am in the morning Silke and Sybille, Claudia‘s assistants know exactly what each of them has to do: Silke got the dogs out of the boxes, shaved them after they had been anaesthetized and fixed them onto the table. Then she cleaned the cages. Sybille cleaned the instruments, tattooed the animals and gave them antibiotics and painkillers. All animals got a dewormer, a spot on and – thanks to GSPCA – a rabies vaccination. 40 animals were spayed and neutered on this first day, 19 bitches, 18 males, 2 cats and 1 tom cat. One male dog had a testicular tumour and its scrotum had to be amputated. Apart from half an hour’s lunch break the team worked steadily until 6:00 pm. Then they stopped because it was Fish Friday in Gouyave and nobody wanted to miss this very popular weekly street party where fish is served prepared in any imaginable way, freshly caught that day.
36 animals were spayed and neutered on Saturday, 16 bitches, 15 males, 4 cats and 1 tom cat.
On Sunday Claudia’s fingers were blistered from tying suture, nevertheless she spayed and neutered 43 animals, 13 bitches, 26 males, 2 cats and 2 tom cats.
One bitch was pregnant. She would have had 7 puppies.
A German shepherd-mix had very bad teeth.
6 of them had to be pulled…
Some dogs were accompanied by their owners, always a good opportunity to share information and give advice.
All dogs received a white tape around their neck with their name and the owner’s name on it. This is Kayla and she belongs to Ashley Charles who obviously puts a lot of thought in how to keep his pet because Kayla’s chain is covered with a piece of garden hose so it can’t hurt her neck.
101 animals fixed! That calls for a drink. Then surgeries continue and Sunday night 119 animals are spayed and neutered, also a litter of puppies, among them a little bitch with a belly full of water resulting from worms.
Water escapes with the first cut of the scalpel…
There she lies with her bloated little belly taped…
Surprisingly enough she was the first of the litter to wake up and the quickest to recover and be up and about. And after deworming she will soon be rid of her parasites and the water in her belly.
Claudia spays and neuters also very young animals successfully. Not every vet can do that but in the regions where we are active this is a great advantage because usually we can hold only one clinic per year and location and the puppies of today will be parents when the next operative takes place.
On Monday the GSPCA vehicle broke down which meant a day off for the team. They went up to the north of the island…
…visited a waterfall…
…and they went to the Crayfish Bay Organic Estate to see Lysette and Kim Russell. Claudia vaccinated 2 dogs and 4 cats against rabies and Kim said: „Next time you must come up here again.”
Afterwards Lysette served wonderful organic hot chocolate.
A beautiful and rare sight at the end of the day: Not often one gets to see a five-master!
Next morning a truck had been found to replace the GSPCA car and Lenn shows his talents handling dogs.
The day starts with a mammary tumour.
First the bitch is getting spayed.
Then the tumour is removed.
The tumour is followed by an abdominal kryptorchid staff-mix…
…and a pregnant bitch.
students Claudia remembers particularly well.
They were great helpers, both very enthusiastic, received the dogs outside and helped sewing them up after the surgery.
Rita doesn’t only take care of documents and permits but lends a helping hand in the clinic wherever it is needed.
Back into the box to sleep off the anesthesia…
37 animals were spayed and neutered on Tuesday, 14 bitches, 19 males, 3 cats and 1 tom cat. Wednesday was to become the day of Claudia‘s personal record-breaking result. She spayed and neutered 24 bitches, 24 males and one cat. It was also the only day where there were no students to help…
One of the 24 males was an abdominal kryptorchid.
His testicles were hidden deeply in the abdomen.
Ronaldo and his friend transported dogs until late in the night.
At 11:00 pm they finally finished.
The next day was already departure day. Claudia had calculated that she could work til 11:00 am. She started at 8:00 am. 5 bitches, 1 male and 4 cats were done at 10:30 when another 7 animals arrived, 4 more bitches, 2 males and a cat. Sharon asked her: “Can you still do them all?“ Claudia: „Impossible!“ And started calculating again…Until 11:40 she could work and still catch the plane. „Put them asleep!“ And she did it! In 71 minutes she spayed and neutered these 7 animals. In total Claudia operated 222 animals in this week, 95 bitches, 105 males, 16 cats and 6 tom cats. There were no complications, no deaths and very few follow-up treatments. The GSPCA commented: „Claudia, we can’t really let you go!“ We can only agree to that!
Since the beginning of the project Dominican Republic Southwest operatives there were always something special: „Never before…, For the first time…, Nobody but us…!“ That didn’t change in 2018 as the second half of the operative showed.
Some members of the team couldn’t participate as planned; one vet couldn’t come and Dolores Rohrer who had initiated this project in 2913 was there this time. For a while it seemed that Anja Heß and Ingrid Stegemann would have to meet this challenge all alone until Anna Bremus who has been already in Samaná for us in 2016 could take time off and join the team at the last moment.
Finally also the schedule of the operative was set up:
02/04. Palo Alto
02/05 Puerto Escondido & Duverge
02/06 Los Rios
02/07 San Christobal
02/08-02/11 Boca Chica
A tight schedule with no days off inbetween!
Instead of breaks only drives from one place to the next
But the three vets just kept going because everywhere people were more than happy about their arrival. Anja commented later: „We just couldn’t disappoint anybody. They had all taken so much care to prepare everything perfectly.“ In the beginning it seemed that there wouldn’t be enough animals for 3 vets and 10 days. Of 20 announced villages in the province of Barahona there were only 4 left each with about 15 animals to spay and neuter and 8 dogs at a hotel in Boca Chica that were abused by the security of the hotel. But Peace Corps volunteers and Cat Lovers RD who organized the operative on-site for us did their very best and the result was accordingly…!
Departure time in Frankfurt am Main: Condor was – once again! – overbooked and the vets had missed to check in online before so they were put on a waiting list and were supposed to fly via Madrid, change planes ther and land in Santo Domingo in the evening of the 2nd. Oh my god , the schedule! Planned was that the vets after their landing at 3 – 4 o’clock in the morning would pick up their car and drive to our liaison person with Peace Corps, Adele Williams, to recover and continue to Barahona in the afternoon to start spay and neuter the next morning in Cristobal…Such a delay would have upset the whole schedule. Luckily a large family stepped back so that passengers on the waiting list could fly. Anja, Ingrid and Anna were the very last ones to receive boarding…
The flight passed without any further incidents and they landed punctually at 3:30 in the morning in Santo Domingo. The car that awaited them was not the car they had booked – as usual! – but a smaller version that was otherwise acceptable and ran the whole time without problems. Only the GPS didn’t do its job properly…
It didn’t find the way to Adele‘s house and only when Anja finally ignored it and trusted her instincts they got there sometime between 9 -10:00 in the morning. No time to sleep; they re-packed the equipment, took only what was needed for Barahona and left the material for the second part of the operative at Adele’s. Then they had lunch and afterwards it was time to head for Barahona.
On palm tree-lined roads ,…
… passing beautiful cattle ,…
…grazing peacefully at the side of the road ,…
…and cattle herons waiting to pick parasites of the hide of the cows.
There it is again, the magic of the Caribbean, with its fascinating vegetation,…
…the stalls heavily burdened with tropical fruits alongside the road,…
…the small, colorful Creole houses, a magic that reaches from the white sandy beach far into the interior…
…deep into the bone dry southwest.
In Barahona a room was booked for 3 days at the hotel Caribe.
At the reception nobody remembered the booking. But few tourists come to Barahona and hotels are rarely booked up. So this problem was solved quickly.
During the next days Anja, Ingrid and Anna drove every morning to one of the small villages in search of the Peace Corps volunteer of that site and the location where the surgeries would take place.
A couple, which does their Peace Corps service in Puerto Escondido were our contact and assistants not only for Puerto Escondido but for the whole region. They did a fantastic job, also during preparations
She created beautiful flyers, and they got the permission to accompany the team to Boca Chica. A big, big Thank you to both of them! And what’s best: Their service lasts til May 2019 so they will be still there for the next operative in the beginning of 2019! We are all very happy about that and also they are looking forward to that.
Cristobal lies in the west of Barahona, further west than our vets have ever been before, and the Haitian influence is very obvious here.
The surgeries took place in the community center. Posters are hanging at the right and the left of the door saying: „ Spay & Neuter – here! At 9:00 – 12:00 am and 1:00 – 4:00 pm! Free of charge!“ In-between an informing text explaining that the prejudices against spay and neuter in this region very common in this region are wrong.
Many of the small Dominican villages have such community centers which are nothing else but empty little houses, 4 walls and a roof, without running water or electricity.And sometimes also just never finished construction sites, as in Santa Maria, where Anja Heß and Alfred Huber operated in 2016…
Quickly the community center of Cristobal is turned into an operating room.
Several Peace Corps volunteers assisted the vets and made sure that enough clean water was brought.
It was Saturday and the kids had no school and to them that what was happening there in their community center was an incredible attraction.
Some of the 6 – 9 year old ones were difficult to control and could hardly be kept out of the fascinating medical supplies.
Finally Anja intervened and the kids were put outdoors.
Many of the dogs were brought by adolescents .
It was never quite clear if the dogs belonged to them or were just village strays.
They watched the preparations with great interest.
The first patient…
…was a bitch – and she was pregnant!
Also adults came. A lady brought 2 bitches and a man came also with 2 bitches that suffered from severe Ehrlichioses.
He was given antibiotics for his dogs.
Anja and Ingrid at work…
Anna had birthday on this first day of the operative.
No time to celebrate, even the cocktails in the evening were postponed because everybody was to tired.
One bitch had a lot of liquids in her belly. Anja suspected a congenital liver defect. The bitch will recover from the surgery but her general life expectancy is not very high. Nevertheless, despite this condition she would have given birth twice a year until her death if not spayed…
All animals suffered from parasites. As usual Ehrlichioses and mange were the most common diseases. The only solution for that is regular treatment with anti-parasitical medication like Ivermectine. We are still a long ways away from that in the southwest…
Close by there was a Haitian celebration and the vets’ work was accompanied by the sound of the drums…
Despite the celebration the children remained glued to the windows. The German vets were by far the greater attraction!
Number 1 and 2 have made it…
7 bitches, 2 of them pregnant, and 4 males were spayed and neutered on this first day.
The next day the vets operated in Palo Alto as already in 2016.
Palo Alto is already a bit more developed with solid stone buildings
Anja Heß fell immediately in love with this house.
As in 2016 the surgeries took place…
…in the carpentry shop of the women‘ s association of Palo Alto.
It is always wonderful to experience how much already one single operative can achieve in the ways of influencing people‘s minds. Palo Alto was no exception. 2 of the ladies who had their animals spayed and neutered in 2016 came this time as helpers. They held animals, cleaned instruments and watched over animals during their post-operative sleep.
The carpentry shop had a big advantage: The grille at the door kept the kids at bay.
Cats came in simple sacs…
…or fancy bags.
All of them were stressed and excited…
…until they were anesthetized and peacefully asleep.
Well, there she is again, the hanging cat, this time from a cloth hanger …(No limits to creativity)
Ever since Dr. Dr. Josef Beisl demonstrated this method 2016 in Santo Domingo to his interested Dominican colleagues who approved of it after trying it themselves there is a persitent rumour among local cat lovers about „cruel German vets“ who hang up cats. This rumour travelled from Santo Domingo as far as Samaná from where Kim Beddall wrote: "You can’t publish such pictures without the appropriate information! "
Here Anja Heß explains why so many excellent surgeons resort to this method when spaying female cats: "In this position spleen and intestines slide towards the diaphragm giving the surgeon the best possible access to the ovaries. A practiced surgeon makes now a cut of only 1 cm and the whole surgery takes about 5 - 10 minutes." Voilà!
16 animals were spayed and neutered in Palo Alto.
11 bitches, 2 cats…
…2 tom cats…
…and 1 male dog. 2 male puppies were too young to be neutered. They’ll get done next time…!
Number 29 was the last patient that day. The animals were numbered consecutively during this campaign, from the first to the last day.
02/05 they went up the hill to Puerto Escondido where two volunteers do their Peace Corps service.
They had put up posters with the following text in Puerto Escondido: „Do you a pet? Stop overpopulation and abandoning! Improve the health and quality of life of your pet! Get your dog or cat, male or female, spayed and neutered on Monday, February 5th at the community center between 9 and 12 am – FREE OF CHARGE! Every animal is operated painlessly, fast and humanely and receives medication for its recovery.“
Several people came in the morning with their animals.
This man didn’t only bring a cat; he had also puppies.
The community center looks very much like a school with its blackboard and the benches.
Anna spaying a bitch…
And stitching her up again…
Also in Puerto Escondido music accompanied the surgeries; this time it was a Calypso band.
This beautiful cat was led with a shoelace.
2 still very young patients.
A volunteer was all day busy collecting dogs; successfully as it shows. 19 animals were spayed and neutered, 8 bitches, 4 males, 2 cats and 5 tom cats.
What a way to wake up!
In the afternoon they drove to Duverge, a bigger place very close to Puerto Escondido.
There they could use a basketball hall to operate in.
Unfortunaty only one bitch was brought…
…and a cat.
Somehow the information about the campaign hadn’t reached the residents of Duverge. The Peace Corps volunteers had wanted to broadcast the info via the guaguas, these small busses that are the most common means of transportation apart from motoconchos and in the beginning the guagua drivers agreed to help but then they wanted to be paid and Peace Corps volunteers have very little money. But the idea is very good and we will pick it up next time and cover the cost.
Still, the young basketball players were very interested and thought it to be a good idea to spay and neuter dogs and cats. It seems that also in Duverge people are ready for improvements and new ideas. And something else we learnt: No matter how close 2 places are, it is impossible to do both in one day. Too much time is lost with setting up the equipment and packing it up again afterwards.
In the evening the team moved to a hotel in Neyba because Neyba is closer to Los Rios, the last village that was visited in the province of Barahona. Also here a room had been reserved for 2 nights and also here nobody recalled this. But there was more than enough space: The vets could choose among 3 empty rooms, each with 3 beds.
And the hotel had a pool…
What a luxury! In Los Rios a Peace Corps volunteer and her friend awaited them. Another volunteer couldn’t come because there was no bus from Puerto Escondido to Los Rios.
Once again they worked in a community center.
…and 3 males were spayed and neutered.
One bitch had a pyometra, two were pregnant, a male had a sticker sarcoma and another one had to be re-opened because of a bleeding in the scrotum.
These two had a very special and impressively close relation and the man didn’t leave his dog alone for a moment.
This lovely puppy…
…accompanied its mom. It will be her last puppy…
Not much time for sumptuous meals these days…
Surgical still life:: Pineapple and scalpel, serves also as fruit knife.
The next morning Anja, Ingrid and Anna left for San Christobal, past the little donkey searching something edible on the street…
…along the railway tracks…
…where a train passed that transported the most valuable product of the region:
Adios, Barahona, until the next time! 24 dogs and 16 cats are waiting in San Christobal…! 2 animal welfare organization that cooperate with Cat Lovers RD brought animals to get fixed: Diakimyi, where Dr. Joseph Beisl had already spayed and neutered cats in 2016,…
…and the Fundación El Eden.
Here is someone apparently very glad to get out of the car.
The drive took longer than the vets had expected.
It was already 12:30 when they arrived at Cindy’s, a student of veterinary medicine, where the surgeries took place.
The reception was loud…
In order to make up for the time lost all 3 surgeon operated at the same time. Usually one always prepared the animals for the surgery or assisted the others but here they had help from a vet student, a certified nurse from Diakimyi and several animal welfare activists.
Still it was a very long day…
…also for this little guy waiting patiently for his turn.
Dusk comes early in the tropics and suddenly it was time for the head lamps.
Anja Heß is still good-humoured…
Anja is spaying a cat that would have had kittens soon.
Another litter saved from being born into a life with no future.
Patient No 100, a milestone in each campaign, is a cat!
It was long after sunset and very dark outside, the 3 surgeons had each an animal on the table when suddenly the current broke down.
The surgeries had to be completed with the help of handy flash lights.
After three quarters of an hour the current went back on and they continued until 22:30. All 40 animals got spayed and neutered according to plan! Then the vets drove to Adele Williams to spend the night there. Adele had electricity but no running water that night. The much longed for shower had to wait…In the meantime a question was sent from Boca Chica to Lower Bavaria by SMS: „When do the vets arrive tomorrow?“ The answer was sent from Santo Domingo to Lower Bavaria: „Not before noon! Have to sleep!“
Here begins the unusual, the „Never before“ of this operative…and, if all goes well, the realization of a dream we’ve had for a long time!
It all started like many times before.
As so often we were contacted by tourists; this time it was a couple that had spent their vacation in December 2017 in the BelleVue Dominican Bay in Boca Chica. They had observed how the security of their hotel had abused 8 adult dogs and 3 puppies with electro shocks, sticks and stones in order to prevent them from begging for food at the hotel’s beach bar and restaurant. The couple was shocked as were other guests and together they complained at the hotel’s reception. The abuse stopped but the guests were afraid that this might start again after they left. Therefore they wrote a review on Tripadvisor and contacted us. We wrote to the hotel without receiving an answer and decided that the dogs should be spayed and neutered in February when Anja, Ingrid and Anna would be in the region. We realized though that this wouldn’t suffice and that we would have to convince the hotel to let us install a monitored feeding place. Emily Espinosa from Cat Lovers RD went to Boca Chica and returned with a shocking result: She had counted not 8 but 117 dogs and 62 cats at the beach of Boca Chica. As long as these animals beg at hotels and restaurants they are in danger of getting abused and maybe even killed. 2014 all beach dogs in Boca Chica were poisoned.
What should we do?
Only if we create monitored feeding stations, condition the dogs to seek their food there and convince tourists to support these stations and to feed animals only there and nowhere else, will it be possible to stop hungry dogs from begging at hotels and restaurants and to convince hotels that there are humane solutions for the stray animal problem and that most of their guests are in favor of these alternatives. And only then we can prevent another mass poisoning. For the first time we have the needed helpers at the location to support such a project, willing to take care of feeding stations daily, a vet who wants to check on the health of the beach dogs once a month and a wholesaler who will give us a special price on slightly damaged bags of dog food ! Still, there will be continuous costs – how should we finance this?
We started our first crowdfunding for this project that was very successful:. And while Anja Heß, Ingrid Stegemann and Anna Bremus spayed and neutered in the villages of Barahona, preparations for the operative in Boca Chica and our first „dog restaurant“ ran at full speed; a project that could become a role model for humane management of stray animal populations in holiday paradises.
On February 7th, while Anja, Ingrid and Anna had a 10 hour spay & neuter marathon in San Christobal, 1000 flyers were printed in Santo Domingo that informed about the project in Spanish and English, asked to stop feeding dogs at the beach or at restaurants, to publish any observed animal abuse on Tripadvisor and to support our crowdfunding.
The lay out for the flyer… …and the finished product!
The imprint for a dozen T-shirts for the Dominican Scouts who were to distribute the flyers on the weekend. Police, tourist board and the community were informed about the action – Emily Espinosa had planned everything perfectly!
In the meantime Mara Brasola, one of 2 animal welfare activists in Boca Chica, prepared the clinic in Boca Chica. A Great Thank You to Mara and the Neptuno’s Refugio for accommodating the team!
Surgeries took place in an empty house. The tables were made from pallets, their height perfectly adjustable for each surgeon – an ingenious solution!
The first patients are already waiting in a separated part of the property.
Quickly Anja, Ingrid and Anna had an audience watching them with great interest.
The first candidate was No 108. 10 animals were spayed and neutered as a start on Thursday.
On Friday serious work started…
Anna and Ingrid laying an intravenous catheter,
Anja viewing her next patient.
The dog catchers were constantly on tour…
…supplying the vets with animals.
Successfully as one can see! The recovery is filling up…
Although the focus in Boca Chica was on dogs, 9 cats and 5 tom cats were spayed and neutered as well.
All beach dogs were marked with a yellow tag which Cat Lover Tammy Simo had managed to procure.
Now the spayed and neutered dogs can be identified as participants of our project, „future guests of our dog restaurant“ and are hopefully protected from prosecution.
Muzzles are a necessary tool when working with strays lacking trust in the intentions of human beings.
Number 153 and 154…
…were the last patients on Friday.
Sunset in Boca Chica…3 dirty, blood-stained vets walk back to their hotel, followed by bewildered looks of people astonished about these strange looking “tourists”.
There they are! The Dominican Scouts arrived in Boca Chica on Saturday morning and began their work immediately. 1000 flyer s had to be distributed and they went really everywhere…
…to the tourists on the beach…
…and to every place where locals gathered.
They informed, they discussed, they explained.
They visited every enterprise like this diving base…
…and every shop…
…and didn’t even halt at the church!
And in the end they convinced the local entrepreneurs! The first restaurants are hanging our posters up and our flyers are lying in the shops.
In the meantime the vets continued to spay and neuter tirelessly.
They worked without a break.
The last patient on Saturday is No 177.
The next morning when No 178 is lying on the table Anja says: „This is the last bottle of Xylazine. After that we finish!“
But no! Someone drives quickly to Santo Domingo and gets some more.
Surgeries can continue!
This little puppy accompanied the whole operative.
The lovely little bitch always found a lap to climb on and someone to cuddle her.
Her trust in mankind and her faith that she was destined to become a lap dog seemed unshakable.
She seems to have been right! In the meantime a possibility for foster care could be found until she finds her forever home..
Yet another patient is getting prepared for surgery.
It is No 196. Also this bitch receives a yellow ear tag. She is the second last patient…
No 197 was the last dog in Boca Chica on 02/11/2018.
Afterwards the team went for a night to Santo Domingo. And in the morning Anja, Ingrid and Anna went as promised to a doctor’s practice to spay and neuter quickly a few cats before flying back to Germany.
The practice was near the place where they had spent the night.
No 100 is always a magic number indicating a successful operative; No 200 is the confirmation! This time they were both cats.
Someone is trying to hide…
…and is lying soon peacefully asleep on the table.
No 205, the very last patient of this operative…
Then they rush to the plane. Anja, Ingrid and Anna have accomplished a heroic feat – and back home there is already any amount of work waiting on them in their practices and clinics, strenuous night and weekend shifts, emergencies…, the everyday life of a busy vet!
In Boca Chica the preparations for our project continue! Restaurant owners, business people and the community administration in town hall could be convinced that our planned stray animal management project with spay & neuter, monitored feeding places and medical care is a good solution for Boca Chica and the tourist industry here. Mara Brasola has found a property suitable for a feeding station, an ideal place not too far from the beach, easily accessible for animal loving tourists who want to support the project and…
…here the beach dogs can keep their territory occupied and stop newcomers from entering; an important aspect for the success of the project.
We have already a verbal agreement with the community of Boca Chica. Now we need the written permit. Then we can start with the construction of a permanent, durable feeding station that will withstand wind, sun, rain and salty air. In the end we will need 2 stations because each will serve about 50 dogs. Not only the beach dogs but all animals in local Boca Chica will have to be spayed and neutered and we will have to develop a community outreach program here that offers information to local people about pet keeping, medical care and help in emergencies to prevent a flood of abandonings at the beach and the feeding stations; a potential danger not to be underestimated because of which in the past similar projects at other places have failed to succeed. We will have to meet this challenge!
We thank everybody who participated in this operative or supported the campaign from the bottom of our hearts!