On December 10th Dr. Josef Beisl flew from Munich to Punta Cana for a cat spay and neuter operative with Cat Lovers RD as he had done already in 2016.
The reason for this had been the request of two restaurant owners in Boca Chica with an issue of uncontrolled cat reproduction who had asked Emily Espinosa for help. Since December 2017 the project Boca Chica exists. It began – who remembers this? - with a cry for help from 2 tourists who complained about the security of their hotel abusing beach dogs very cruelly. A very ambitious project started with plans for a feeding program and medical care for spayed and neutered strays that develops only slowly. The feeding station was built with the help of donators and we sent every year vets for spay and neuter clinics to Boca Chica but when the feeding program - a completely local operation – will finally begin can’t be foreseen although the town administration and the recently deceased mayor have been very much in favor of the program and have granted all necessary permits and also the new mayor is said to be fond of dogs. In the meantime we try to do everything possible to support the project and so it was clear the wish of Boca Chica’s restaurant owners had to be fulfilled. A big Thank you to all donators and sponsors who helped us to realize this! But not only Boca Chica cats, also cats from Santo Domingo and San Christobal were spayed and neutered.
In Punta Cana Scarlett who doesn’t speak a word of English with a big sign to drive Dr. Josef Beisl to Santo Domingo.
Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic, metropolis with millions of inhabitants, concrete jungle and already the location for several of our clinics, not only Cat Lovers RD but also in the favela La Cienaga along the river…
Dr. Beisl stayed in a private apartment in the Torre Natali complex. Affluent Dominicans investing in real estate finance apartments by renting them out to tourists or people who need temporary accommodation. Often several people share an apartment.
December 11th and 12th were still days off which Dr. Beisl enjoyed together with Ramón, husband of Cat Lover RD president Tammy Simo going sight-seeing in the Zona Colonial where they saw this Coca Cola Christmas tree.
They visited the cathedral of Santo Domingo…
…with its many art treasures and made a trip to the beach.
The hall of the Dominican Scouts.
2016 Dr. Beisl worked here for a few days and spayed and neutered altogether 80 cats. The Dominican Scouts volunteered and several vets from Santo Domingo visited the clinic and worked with their German colleague.
Viewing the spay board they were all very disconcerted by the method to hang female cats up at their hind legs. And we received a lot of criticism from concerned but uninformed animal lovers about this apparently cruel method preferred by so many experienced surgeons. Here once more the explanation of surgeon Anja Heß that we published already in 2018: „ 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." The Dominican vets quickly dropped their skepticism and approved of this method.
This time the operative started in the hall on 12/13 with only a small clinic.
6 cats were spayed and neutered.
…and 3 females.
December 14th Dr. Beisl worked in San Christobal…
…in the shelter Diakimyi.
Also here he had been already in 2016 and therefore this was a reunion with friends.
The surgeries took place in the same room as last time.
And everybody helped with enthusiasm to set the place up.
Besides the big roll of paper towels stand the new clippers, brand Vetiva Mini, especially well-suited for shaving cats and a Christmas present from our donators to Dr. Beisl. It proved to be very helpful.
Dr. Beisl spayed and neutered 21 cats in Diakimyi.
Post-operative monitoring in the recovery. Each cat has a form with an exact description.
8 males were neutered…
…and 13 females.
The next day they finally went to Boca Chica. After torrential rains with flooded roads it hadn’t been certain that the clinic in Boca Chica could take place on 12/15.
The Villa Residencial Las Tejas offered their bungalow as location for the surgeries. You find this beautiful vacation spot on booking.com
The spay board was installed in the kitchen.
The instruments were cleaned on a chest.
The floor was covered with cat cages and materials.
And then the work started!
One tom cat suffered suddenly from hyperthermia. Dr. Beisl carried him to the pool and laid him on the cool stones. His temperature reached a critical 41.3°C – but after some time the cat recovered.
In the evening 15 cats were spayed and neutered; 7 queens and 8 tom cats.
No 40 was one of them.
That day a cry for help from tourists in Boca Chica reached us in Germany: Injured dog at the beach: emaciated, with a big, bleeding wound at its leg, in great pain…
We managed to contact Dr. Beisl but the dog couldn’t be found anymore on the large beach. On 12/17 the good news from the tourists: „ The dog is in safety at the organization Rescued by Love - It is being prepared for the trip to Germany and we will adopt it.” Bravo! We were very happy about these news and hope that there will be many more tourists like that who don’t look away but act!
The next day there were more torrential rain falls, flooded roads and not a cat to be seen. They had gone in hiding waiting for better weather. Therefore it was decided to return to Santo Domingo and continue work in the practices of with Cat Lovers befriended vets.
Dr. Beisl being greeted upon return by a big tom cat.
The next two days Dr. Beisl operated together with Dr. Luis.
34 animals were spayed and neutered, 20 females and 14 males.
Also he won’t reproduce again.
Dr. Beisl was very delighted by the competence of Dr. Luis and his team.
The last 3 days he worked in the practice Morelba Rivero.
Senora Rivero had visited the clinic of Dr. Beisl in 2016 in the Dominican Scout Hall and like everybody else also she had looked at the spay board very sceptically.
Senora Rivero had to wait very long to afford her dream of studying veterinary medicine and hasn’t finished her studies yet. Therefore she employs in her practice Dra Rosangela who likes to use the spay board herself.
And so small are the cuts then!
23 cats were spayed and neutered on 12/18, 16 females and 7 males.
Adele Williams, former director at Peace Corps for the volunteers in the province Barahona and now retired, came for 2 days and helped to clean the instruments. Adele, who has always supported our work in Barahona and accommodated vet Anja Heß and her team several times in Santo Domingo, established in 2016 also our contact with Cat Lovers RD when she asked us for help for Santo Domingo’s cats.
12/19 started with a special patient, cat No 100!
17 cats altogether were spayed and neutered that day, 15 females and 2 males.
On the last day 29 animals were operated, 14 queens and 15 tom cats. Here the last patient, No 145.
Dr. Beisl states an improvement of the general constitution of the animals as compared to his first visit although all of them were ridden by parasites like fleas, mites and worms. On the average he spayed 2 – 4 pregnant cats daily. Some had abdominal and mammary tumors but no pyometras and no cryptorchids among the tom cats.
At the end of the operative he received from Cat Lovers RD a well-deserved certificate for his commitment to animal welfare in German, a certificate he can be really proud of!
On December 21st Dr. Beisl drove back to Punta Cana with Cat Lover RD board member Penelope and spent a night in a beach hotel…
…with a great buffet…
…and Christmas decoration in the hotel hall despite 30°C outside.
Dr. Beisl did finally that what tourists come for to the Caribbean since decades. He enjoyed the sun, the sea…
…and the beach.
The next day he flew back to winter in Germany. We are certain: He will be back!
In the meantime his Dominican colleagues Dr. Luis and Senora Rivero continue his work with the medication and materials he has left behind. A lady by the name of Angel has promised to drive cats from Boca Chica to Santo Domingo to get spayed and neutered. Here the cats that have been already done since Dr. Beisl left:
Claudia Bretthauer travels since 2017 twice a year for us to the Caribbean, once to Grenada and once to the Dominican Republic. Actually she had wanted to skip the Dominican Republic this year but we have a new site of operation where help is needed, the region of Yonu.
Schummer runs a horse ranch there for 18 years now taking tourists on trail rides. Her customers come from Punta Cana, the largest All Inclusive center of the Caribbean which is only 40 minutes’ drive away. Here about 100 of these huge mega-hotels are lined up along 50 kilometers of the Bavaro beach; every major international tourist company is represented. But apart from Gabi’s trail riders no tourist ever shows up in the region of Yonu.
No Euro or dollar made in the tourist industry is spent here; all the profit returns to the home countries of the foreign investors from where also their customers originate – as everywhere in developing countries with a climate suitable for vacation spots for sun-seekers and with governments that don’t care enough about their own citizens to pass laws that force foreign investors to invest part of their profits in development aid. And although in Punta Cana big spay neuter clinics are held regularly, no vet team has come this far yet. We are – once again – the first ones…
The ambience reminds very much of the south-west, the most poverty-stricken region of the Dominican Republic.
The small team consisting of Claudia Bretthauer, her partner Alex Nauseda, her sons Finn and Lenn and her friend Sonja who has accompanied Claudia on many operatives before lands in the early morning hours of October 17th in Santo Domingo. Gabi Schummer has sent a driver to take them to their accommodation in Punta Cana.
They stayed at the Ecoarthostal.
The hostel belongs to Boris, a Russian who has studied in the former German Democratic Republic. He has furnished it with a lot of taste and care.
Claudia and her team have 2 rooms with bunk beds, a kitchen and 2 bath rooms; cold water in the shower – suitable for sweating Europeans.
After a few hours of rest they visit the location where Claudia will operate, a large warehouse very well suited for the purpose…
…with a lot of space and shadow inside. A board at the entrance stops people from entering the area of surgery.
At the inside a white band limits the access for the all too curious…
They are watching the surgeon from the outside.
It is amazing how many people show up for this very first operative in their region. Surgeon Claudia describes them as „open-minded and receptive“ and comments on the animals „All-over condition good, few fleas.“ This is clearly the result of Gabi Schummer’s efforts who has been working relentlessly during the past 18 years for the welfare of animals, educating people and being always available whenever there was an animal in need .Inly a few days after the clinic she was contacted by an old man whose dog had been hit by a car. The man was desperate; he cared very much for his dog and wanted it to be rescued. Gabi took the dog to Santo Domingo for an x-ray.
Unfortunately the examination showed that the spin was broken and the dog had to be euthanized.
Inside the warehouse an experienced team is at work. Alex prepares the next patient while Claudia is operating.
Volunteer Hanna is assisting; she wants to study veterinary medicine and thinks about accompanying the team on he next operative in Grenada in February 2020.
There are also some local volunteers.
Sonja is in charge of sterilizing the instruments.
Claudia‘s sons look after the animals in the recovery.
All animals get a tattoo, ivermectine and a spot-on.
Gabi is the whole time on the road bringing animals to the surgeon from the villages Yonu, Momon, Haumas, Las Guanas, Nisibon and Escuela.
The warehouse has current and a bathroom with shower, running water and a flush toilet.
The water running from the tap in the wall into the barrel is very clean.
And the toilet is in perfect working order! 29 animals get spayed and neutered the first day, 12 bitches, 14 male dogs and 3 cats.
The first patient is the male Caliman from the village Momon.
Last patient of the day is Princessa from Yonu.
A very sad incident occurred the first day: When opening up the small bitch Shakira Claudia found a spleen three times bigger than the normal size. Although the tissue showed no changes this was an indication of a tumourigenic process of some sort. Claudia suspected leukemia. The little bitch died shortly after. We have to be aware of the fact that our surgeons in the field where prevention of uncontrolled breeding of poor animals is the main goal work without the diagnostic and therapeutic means of well-equipped modern practices and clinics but Shakira ould have been most likely doomed in any case.
Also the second day they worked in the warehouse.
35 animals were spayed and neutered…
…18 bitches, 14 male dogs, 3 tom cats.
Tom cat Miruna from Yonu
Bitch Lucy had her protruding haw glands removed.
The third day the team worked at a private house.
The family made the porch…
…and the whole interior of the house available to them.
A tarp was hung up at the porch to create a shady area.
Claudia Bretthauer spayed and neutered 26 dogs here…
…10 bitches and 16 males.
Among them also this very pregnant lady…
A chicken joined them, apparently fascinated by a bowl with a bit of bloody water from swiping the table (Not the desinfection bath of the instruments!) .
Nothing could chase it away; so in the end one let it have the bowl…
These girls brought their puppies to get spayed…
because til the next vet’s visit they will already have reproduced.
This male had an old wound at his paw that didn’t want to heal.
Of course it was treated.
A man brought his 2 male dogs to get neutered. He was very proud of them and apparently also a bit worried…
For the trip back home he had organized a wheel barrow.
The last 2 surgeries took place on a hill near Playa Limón.
Alex had to hurry with setting up because dusk was soon approaching.
No. 91 and No. 92, the last male, the last bitch…
The farewell dinner afterwards was definitely no farewell for ever. The last 3 days have shown that there is not only need but also potential in this region. 92 animals at the first operative is a result to be proud of!
The next morning a taxi took the team to Sabana al Mar where the ferry to Samaná was waiting.
Motorcycles were carried aboard…
…and an old man who couldn’t walk on his own.
At 9:00 am the little boat started on ist way across the large Bay of Samaná.
On the other side Astrid was waiting, the Swiss whose dog Claudia had amputated last year. She took the team to their new accommodation:
The villa of Stefanie, former wife of a beauty surgeon.
Stefanie lives here with 12 dogs, 12 cats, plastic flamingos in the pool,…
…and a real pig.
Motoconchos took them to the beach where they spent the rest of the day relaxing.
The next morning Astrid took the team with her pick up to Sanchez.
This time they don‘ work at the red cross station as in the past 2 years but in the ministry of agriculture instead…
…where veterinarian Hannibal has his practice. Hannibal is the boss of all vets in the region who work for the ministry of agriculture, also of Dr. Francisco in Samaná.
He has rabies vaccinations for all animals and offered a bonus to his employees for promoting the clinic. There were 100 registrations but only 21 animals were brought this day.
Hannibal has a beautiful practice, spacious, airy, with good lighting conditions and well-equipped.
A joy for Claudia Bretthauer to work under such conditions!
The first patient was an already spayed bitch with a conjunctiva tumour.
At first an eye removal seemed to be the most likely solution.
But the surgery went very well and the eye could be saved.
It looked already a lot better the next day.
Finn preparing the recovery…
…and Alex is shaving the patients, here the only cat of the day.
The recovery is filling up…
17 bitches, 3 male dogs and 1 cat were spayed and neutered the first day in Sanchez and one lady brought her already spayed dog to get vaccinated.
The next day was Claudia’s birthday. Already the second time in a row she celebrates it during an operative in the Dominican Republic. Hannibal a his employees sang a serenade for her but afterwards ther was a bad surprise: The team had booked a return flight with a stop over in Puerto Rico not knowing that even for 1 hour on a US tarmac ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is needed. No big deal, they had been able to apply for it online while in the Dominican Republic – but now they found out that Lenn, the 11 year old son of Claudia, wouldn’t be able to get ESTA because it is not issued for children’s passports, even though the child was travelling wih a valif passport and with his mother who had ESTA!
A whole day the phones ran hot in the Dominican Republic and in Germany; the airline, embassies, foreign offices, consulates were contacted on both sides of the Atlantic but bureaucracy proved to be unrelenting. In the end a direct flight had to be booked that left 2 days earlier.
In the meantime Claudia continued to operate as if nothing had happened; 25 animals, 14 bitches, 8 male dogs, 1 cat and 2 tom cats.
Some puppies were among the patients…
Weighing is especially important for them before the surgery…
…and afterwards a special dose of TLC.
A fertile abdominal cryptorchid lands on Claudia’s table.
Neutering him is not so simple, Claudia Bretthauer uses a cat’s castration hook for this.
A new way of tattooing is tried here for the first time: A big bright green spot at the side of the belly.
It will still take a bit of experimenting to find the best spot where very little hair grows naturally so that the tattoo remains visible while the animal is in an upright position.
October 23rd, the last day of the operative, is reserved for Las Terrenas.
Edith, Patricia Jakobs’ neighbour from the Netherlands, has offered her terrace for the clinic.
From the reception one has a good view of Edith’s beautiful garden.
Preparing the medicaments in the hope of many patients Patricia and her volunteers have done their best to mobilize people to bring their animals.
Successfully, although torrential rain fell during parts of the day…
51 animals got spayed and neutered on this last day, 29 bitches, 15 male dogs, 4 cats and 3 tom cats.
Dr. Elias was of course also there and spayed and neutered 18 animals. From 9:00 am til 3:00 pm there was no current: hen Dr. Elias organized a car battery…
Among the interested audience were Edith’s donkey…
…and her paralyzed Chihuahua.
Here a colleague is being weighed. Not only for puppies, also for the in the Dominican Republic so popular Chihuahuas exact weighing is very important for the determination of the correct and safe dosage of anesthesia,
Waiting patients with an offspring…
Is this bitch trying to give her owner a bad conscience? But before the anesthesia she mustn’t eat anymore…
The exertion can be seen in tne team’s faces but they all can be very proud of themselves. They have done an amazing job!
Here the photos of all animals that wer spayed and neutered during this operative!
The next morning he bus takes them to the airport of Santo Domingo.
The flyer for the clinic in Las Terrenas, created with a lot of love, won’t get used. The last 2 days of the operative don’t happen because of ESTA. No reason to be sad though: Claudia Bretthauer will return for the last week in March to continue where she had to leave off this time. But before she flies to Grenada February 21st – 28th!
On April 7th 2019 Claudia Bretthauer flew with 5 helpers to her third operative on Grenada. This time the clinic was held in the north of the island as in 2017.
On April 4th the suitcases are already filled with 70 kg medicaments; the countdown has started…
In the weeks before we had had a lot of excitement because of Buddy who had been adopted by Felicia Krämer during her stay in the Carriacou Animal Hospital as volunteering vet. Buddy was supposed to travel to Germany with Claudia Bretthauer. It took 2 weeks of negotiating with Condor to get the ticket for Buddy. A lot has changed since the little Hari flew 2015 to Germany with Theresa Conze and Dr. Uwe Linzer.
Everything was very easy then and the vets could take Hari right away with them. In the meantime the state of Grenada to which the island of Carriacou belongs has become a so called unlisted non-member country and that means that animals from here have to undergo 4 months of preparation before entering the EU: A month after getting chipped and vaccinated against rabies their blood is tested to show if the level of rabies antibodies is high enough in the case of which they have to wait another 3 months before they can travel. In the southern Caribbean yet another problem has to be dealt with: Animals are only transported on direct flights and in the Lesser Antilles stop overs are frequent. Therefore animals from Tobago and Barbados have tob e sent as cargo via England. Buddy was lucky; the return flight of Claudia Bretthauer and her team went directly to Frankfurt.
On the way to the airport at the crack of dawn on April 7nd…
The plane is already waiting. Once again a vet team crosses the Atlantic on a spay and neuter mission for the Association for Aid and Support of the Creole Dogs. It is our 43rd operative in 11 years and a lot of them began here, at the international airport of Frankfurt.
The team from left to right: Claudia Bretthauer, her partner Alexander Nauseda, Mirco Flach, his wife Sonja Schmidt – Flach – a veterinary technician - , Larissa from Würzburg and Anais Sauerwein from Körbecke, both studying veterinary medicine in Munich.
The plane stopped in Curaçao for half an hour. The first jackets were taken off…
Arrival in Grenada at 6 pm local time. Luana, president of the GSPCA, awaited them. After a welcoming drink they drove to the Crayfish Bay Organic Cocoa Estate of Lylette and Kim Russell where Claudia Bretthauer and her team had stayed already in 2017 in the „Little House“ , a wooden bungalow usually rented by backpackers and eco tourists who want to visit the north of the island.
Since Claudia’s last visit a second wooden house has been built, very beautiful but with only 4 beds. “Little House” was occupied and Kim and Lylette hadn’t expected more than 4 people.
Larissa and Anais slept a few nights on a mattress on the porch
until „Little House“ No 1 was vacant again and the team moved in there.
Breakfast: Homemade bread, jam without chemicals, fresh orange juice and hot chocolate from the Crayfish Bay Organic Cocoa Estate…
…and a splendid view from the breakfast table - a perfect start of the day!
Work began on. April 8th. The open air surgery was in the garden of the St. Rose Modern Secondary School in Gouyave. The school is financed by the „Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother“, as the banner shows, a convent of Saint Francis nuns. Gouyave is located at the west coast of Grenada and is the second largest town after the capital St. George with 3378 residents. People here live mostly from fishing and Gouyave is famous for the „Fish Friday“, a weekly festival with music, dance and a great variety of fish dishes served at booths along the streets. „Fish Friday“ is very popular among locals and tourists.
There were 2 pavilions on the school grounds. One of them, a beer tent, served as reception, the other as surgery.
First of all the clinic had to be set up. The surgery had 3 walls. Besides the open side was a wall so that a second side had to be opened to let enough day light in. There were 3 camping tables, no current and water only in bottles or from the school’s toilet.
A desk from a classroom, 2 chairs and a board were used to create more space to place materials and equipment on.
A lot of the time it was very windy. Mirco and Alexander organized bamboo poles…
…to stabilize the pavilion. The tables’ height was adjusted with stones.
The bamboo poles were fastened with gauze. They served their purpose surprisingly well.
Despite the improvised storage there was little space and many things were done on the ground like the sterilization of the instruments…
…or the shaving of dogs…
Two towels rolled together help to hold the patient in a stable position on the table.
A dog is being prepared for the surgery.
Claudia Bretthauer commented the first day: „We started late and could do only 9 bitches…
…18 males and 1 cat. The cat’s mammary glands were infected and had to be removed. One of the male dogs had an internal testicle.
Evening in Crayfish Bay…
Everybody is relaxing, also the dog catchers Ronaldo and Boy O. Ronaldo slept on the estate and drove the team every morning to work…
…before he started to collect dogs with Boy O, accompanied by Buddy who had meanwhile arrived from Carriacou and was at Ronaldo’s in foster care.
The first patients arrive…
A very pretty young lady…
Only few dogs were brought by their owners this time.
The GSPCA had posted the operative on Facebook but hadn’t had enough people to hang up flyers in Gouyave and the surrounding area.
The usual clusters of people weren’t there, only the children came on their way to and from school.
They were interested in everything that was going on in the surgery…
…and at the reception.
Some kids came also after school to see what the foreign vets did there on their school ground.
The waiting room…Ronaldo and Boy O did their best to fill it.
Nevertheless complained Claudia Bretthauer several times about waiting periods. She doesn’t like that at all…!
Boy O during a well-deserved break.
Every day 2 – 3 American students came from the university to help.
The veterinary faculty of Grenada’s university has a good reputation and it is a lot cheaper to study here than in the States. Up to 3 years American students can stay here.
Amanda Getto volunteered already during the last clinic.
For Larissa from Germany it is the first time.
Anais accompanies Claudia Bretthauer already for the third time.
She has learnt a lot and operates already on her own. She wants to continue to work for animal welfare after she has finished her studies. The newspaper is placed underneath the dogs because many of them empty their bladder when anethetized. Its raised corners show how windy it was most of the time.
Larissa is sewing up, Anais watches.
The second day this emaciated, very weak dog was brought.
The students took him with them to care for him.
The same day an injured dog came…
…bitten by another dog. The wound was infected and didn’t want to heal on its own.
Also these kittens were spayed.
Students took care of Buddy whenever he wasn’t accompanying Ronaldo.
Claudia wrote after the second day: „Today we spayed and neutered 17 bitches, 13 males, 3 queens und 3 toms. All animals had a lot of fleas. No pregnancies so far. “
On the third day a man brought a very vicious Rottweiler with a giant tumor.
Claudia Bretthauer didn’t get the permission to neuter the dog. The owner would have allowed it but his wife didn’t want it. Maybe she still wanted to breed with him. In the Caribbean Rottweilers are considered a valuable possession. Many are therefore chained to protect them against the dangers that free running local mongrels are exposed to.
This bitch was brought to get spayed. She had obviously been saved from being misused in dog fights. Her ears and tail had been docked extremely short to make it harder for other dogs to get a hold of them. But apparently she was rescued in time. Her coat shows no scars or injuries. Dog fights are everywhere in the Caribbean illegal, still they take place on every island.
Mirco preparing the next patient…
…but today work ends at noon - „Too bad!“ comments Claudia Bretthauer – because Ronaldo has still other obligations than transporting dogs He plays soccer and that afternoon his team had an important match where he had to take part. 15 bitches, 5 males and 1 tom cat were fixed in the morning.
The team enjoyed a free…
…and the beach. Claudia would certainly have preferred to work but her helpers surely loved it.
A new piece of equipment; a kitchen scale that should prove to be very useful during the coming days.
The next morning also the students went to collect dogs in the neighbourhood. They were quite successful.
Ronaldo, since 3 years a regular member of Claudia Bretthauer‘s Grenada team without whom the operatives simply wouldn’t work, is not only excellent with dogs but also a gifted photographer who sent us beautiful photos of his island and the people who live here.
On Tour with Ronaldo…!
Ronaldo, Boy O and their young helpers start to collect dogs and cats for spay and neuter.
They drive to very remote places, to very poor families…
The children help with great enthusiasm. The small dog…
…is put into a cage that is locked with care.
This boy succeeds in catching a cat.
She has a very comfortable transportation. She has a big dog box all to herself.
The cages filled with animals are getting placed into the car.
No matter how big or heavy they are the children manage the task with great pride.
Every box is being controlled to make sure that no animal will escape when driving back to Gouyave.
The cat in her luxurious big box and the dogs have arrived in Gouyave and will soon be brought into the shade to wait til it’s their turn to be operated while Ronaldo and his helper start their next round.
Again and again we meet such scenes in the Caribbean that show evidently the affection that many people have for their animals. Especially children who grow up without toys get very attached to their pets that often are their most precious – and only – possession. But also a lot of adults care for their fourlegged companions and for many old people they are company and comfort. Poverty and lack of education cause in the Caribbean and worldwide always the same problems; an increase in family violence being one of them. This is reflected also in the behaviour towards animals in addition to the general lack of knowledge about the proper treatment of animals. Despite all that there is a great chance that animal welfare work will be very successful in the Caribbean in the long run.
A workshop has been set up underneath the veranda of the house. Here are more dogs…
Chicken heads boil in a pot over a fire – dog food. If one compares this with the ingredients of industrial dogfood there isn’t much difference.
Puppies appear, a whole litter…
SThey are being collected, set into a cardboard box and taken along.
The car is almost full.
But this male has to be brought to Gouyave, like it or not because he has an obvious skin issue, most likely mange.
On the street he lifts his leg to pee and is afterwards quite relaxed.
Whether collecting animals…
…or returning them, the children work tirelessly. They are the future of Caribbean animal welfare which will become only then a lasting success when we manage to hand this responsibility over to the local people. Of course it is ridiculous to expect that people living in extreme poverty work all day as volunteers like many people in industrialized countries just as it is ridiculous to visit corrugated–iron huts where ten hungry children live and to take care only of the dogs and cats there. Of course we as a very small animal welfare organization can’t do a lot in regards to humanitarian aid. But we want to - and have to also fort he sake of Caribbean animal welfare! - create jobs at the standard minimum wage for local animal welfare workers who can carry out a lot of important tasks for which the small Caribbean animal welfare organizations have no capacities. Dolores Rohrer has given us a bright example in the southwest of the Dominican Republic.
Here in the poorest region of the country she started an anti-parasitical program with local helpers that ran terrifically. In Alonse dogs were bathed and treated daily. In addition to ridding the animals of ticks, fleas, lice and mites this helped to prevent some of the most common diseases like Ehrlichiose and mange transmitted by these parasites. At the same time the owners of the animals were informed and educated and candidates for the next spay and neuter campaign were listed. Dolores directed the program for several years successfully from Switzerland until it was terminated due to lack of funding – what a shame! Dolores’ most competent helper, esteemed by all vets as assistant, had to go to the capital in search for work because Dolores could no longer afford to pay 60 Euro monthly – sixty! – to the father of four children. Unfortunately we didn’t have the means at the time to help out but we hope that we will find supporters for similar projects in the future. The cost is so small in comparison to the enormous reward! Nobody can teach the Caribbean people the right treatment of animals better than their own compatriots. Better treatment of animals doesn‘t only improve their life’s quality but prolongs also their life expectancy, a key to the success of spay and neuter not only in the case of ownerless strays the territories of which are taken over by other – fertile! – strays immediately after their death. Also animal keepers for whom letting their animals stray is still the most common way of pet keeping will get another (fertile) animal after the former became a victim of the countless dangers of straying.
Also the GSPCA has realized that spay and neuter alone is not enough. They visit schools and educate children as much as possible.
Back in Gouyave…
The puppies have arrived, excited but otherwise in good condition. Regardless of how anybody might feel about puppy spaying: 3 months old puppies will be fertile in 5 months, the vet will return in 12 months. By then many of these midgets could be already pregnant for the second time!
Everybody is enchanted by the puppies, the American students just as much…
Now the kitchen scale proves to be really useful. Wrapped into a towel the puppy is weighed to determine the exact dose of anesthesia.
The cut is not bigger than the width of a finger.
And so small are the ovaries…
20 puppies were spayed and neutered that day.
After the surgery…
…the babies received all special tender loving care…
Result of the fourth day: 54 animals; 28 bitches, 24 males, 2 cats. That brings a big smile to Claudia’s face!
The next morning surprises with torrential rainstorms that won’t stop. The wind is so strong that Claudia gets hit in the head by a water bottle flying around. Quickly a shelter is constructed with some boards. This video shows the working conditions on April 12th:
The work is done despite the weather.
Larissa has learnt a lot during the past days…
…and spays her first male in the storm.
The weather doesn’t change that day. Work ends at 2:00 in the afternoon. 15 bitches, 16 males and one cat are spayed and neutered.
Once again Ronaldo makes his rounds.
Also today the children he meets are very interested…
…and want to take part in this as much as they can.
A transport of very docile dogs…
Also on the last day a litter of puppies gets operated. The first one is already awake again while the others are still sleeping. Statistically we always assume an average of 5 puppies per litter and about 10 puppies per bitch and year. Here we see that the number can be a lot higher.
For the old lady inbetween the puppies it was definitely the last litter.
The term dog catcher for Ronaldo and his helpers isn’t really correct, actually they should be called dog collectors because most dogs in the Caribbean have owners that let them stray. Larger packs of really ownerless dogs survive only at garbage dumps or near tourist resorts where they are constantly threatened by poisonings. Normally Caribbean dogs are seen in pairs or alone seeking for food.
The few ownerless dogs in villages or small towns are usually known by the residents and often fed together with the own dogs. Some receive also names chosen because of their looks or places where they spend a lot of time. This bitch is called „Old lady by Rasta shop“.
And that is „Old man by bridge“.
After the surgeries the animals are returned to their owners.
Many of them live very remotely, have no cars and without Ronaldo’s service they wouldn’t have a chance to get their animals spayed or neutered.
A visit at an old lady’s home inbetween…
A meal is waiting on the porch…
29 animals were operated that last day. Here the team with their last patient No. 200!94 bitches , males, 8 cats and 5 tom cats were spayed and neutered altogether in 6 days – actually only 5 because twice the team worked only half a day – 3 patients were operated because of umbilical hernia, one had a tumor removed and others were treated for injuries or parasites. 2 males were cryptorchids and the pregnant bitches would have delivered 27 puppies without abortion.
The result calls for a celebration! All participants can be really proud of what they have achieved.
Buddy’s farewell…Claudia Bretthauer wrote on April 15th: „Yesterday Buddy went a last time to the beach with Rolando, Grenada’s best vet assistant, who has fostered Buddy lovingly since April 4th. “ Then it was time to get on the plane to Germany…
Arrival in Frankfurt. Buddy has made it…
…and gets a first hug after long months from a very happy Felicia Krämer!
January 2nd Anja Heß, Ingrid Stegemann, Dr. Alfred Huber and Dolores Rohrer flew to the Dominican Republic. These first photos that Anja Heß sent from there clearly show her pleasure to be back although this is her fifth trip to the region and she knows that hard work lies ahead of her.
At 3 am on January 3rd Anja Heß, Ingrid Stegemann and Dr. Alfred Huber landed in Santo Domingo, picked up their rental car and drove to their host Adele Williams.
After a rest they sorted materials they had left at Adele’s after their last clinic, went shopping and returned then to the airport to pick up Dolores Rohrer who had taken a flight from Switzerland via Spain and landed in the afternoon.
Dolores is back!
The president of the Associazione suizzera per l'aiuto e il supporto dei cani creoli has initiated the project Dominican Republic Southwest 2013 after she travelled to this poorest, least developed region of the country for years with Dominican friends who live in Switzerland today but were born and raised in the southwest.
During the past 3 years her jobs in Switzerland hadn’t allowed her to join the team. Therefore the vets hadn’t been able to spay and neuter in places like Alonse and the favela of Santo Domingo where Dolores‘ contacts and her knowledge of the Spanish language are needed to hold a clinic.
Immediately after her arrival the team drove to Alonse and started work the next day.
They stayed and worked at the house of a friend of Dolores that had an open pergola and a fenced in garden, ideal working conditions with lots of shade and space.
And there they are again, the beautiful operating tables custom-made for Anja’s size in 2013. They were obviously very well stored at Alonse; they are in mint condition.
Rosalito, gardener, housekeeper and helper of the landlady, proved to be also a very good vet assistant.
Rosalito and Dolores‘ local helper Mali went around with a small motorcycle and brought the spay and neuter candidates to the surgeons.
The first patient of the operative is already rising again.
Number 2 is still awaiting surgery. Dolores sent us a message the first morning: „Just 1.5 hours and already 11 dogs fixed!“
Among the patients were a lot of very young animals.
Most of them were not yet sexually mature. That shows that despite the long break people here have not forgotten what Anja and her team had tried to explain to them years ago about the object of spay and neuter.
All pregnancies were at a very early stage.
12 bitches, 4 males and a cat were spayed and neutered on the first day.
Another male was neutered the next morning. Then they went to San Francisco, a small place near Alonse that had seen vets for the last time in 2015.
In small villages like San Francisco surgeries are performed outdoors and locations often change during the course of a day…
…and sometimes the view from the operating table looks like this. 10 bitches and 3 males were done in San Francisco, all surprisingly well fed but plagued by fleas and ticks.
January 6th, the 3 Holy Kings Day, is an important holiday in the Dominican Republic and everybody goes to church. Luckily Vicky called from El Corozo. Vicky who has taken part in previous operatives knew some people in El Corozo who didn’t want to miss the rare opportunity to get their dogs fixed despite the holiday. And so the rental was loaded with people, equipment and operating table…
…and off they went!
El Corozo, a poor village that the team has visited already in 2014…
Nothing has changed here since. Also the sanitary facilities are quite the same.
The residents of El Corozo were already waiting in the shade of a big tree. Nothing much happens in these small villages and the visit of the vets is a great event. And after all, 3 Holy Kings Day is every year!
Every animal gets a number – here the number 34 – and a photo is taken of every animal showing the number which is entered in a list with details about species, sex, name of animal, owner and surgeon, medication, date and place of surgery and place of residence.
This is the bitch Dormenta of Senora Aileira which was spayed on 01/06/2019 by Anja Heß in El Corozo. The camera shows the right date but not the local time…
Only one operating table had fit into the car. Dr. Alfred Huber had to use a local kitchen table.
In situations like these it is very important to make use of every opportunity to maintain the necessary sterility and hygiene. The tables are covered with plastic film, constantly changed and sterilized. Gallons of skin and surface disinfectants are used up during each operative. The sterile inside of the packaging of surgical gloves is used to place instruments and swabs.
7 dogs were spayed and neutered in El Corozo…
…among them Priscilla und Monky, a couple of Chihuahuas. Monky is definitely mentally handicapped but very much loved by his owner.
Afterwards they made a tour of the village.
Most people here do a little bit of agriculture and keep a few pigs which are of course also lacking medical care…
So Dr. Alfred Huber ended up treating 14 pigs with Ivomec against parasites.
A well-deserved break before driving back to Santo Domingo – the favela La Cienaga is on the agenda for the next day.
La Cienaga, a settlement in Santo Domingo running by its own rules…Like any other favela in the world La Cienaga was built by people who came to the city to escape rural poverty just to find out that their dreams of a better life wouldn’t come true in the urban environment.
The favela where no police, fire brigade, ambulance or garbage trucks go was visited by our vets 2015 for the first time…
…show the river at the far end.
The people are living in cramped conditions. Although many of them have found work of some sort in Santo Domingo they don’t earn enough to afford better housing. There are rumours that the government plans to tear down the favela to make room for new apartment buildings. The rents will be beyond the means of the current residents. Nobody knows when these plans shall be realized.
3 cats and a doll, a special still life…
Mena under whose patronage already 2015 the spay and neuter campaign was held.
Nari, Mena‘s son who led the team safely in and out of the favela collects plastic bottles out of the river. He brings them to an official drop-off point where he receives coupons for rice, flour or beans for that.
Olga is the name of the lady in the red T-shirt. She is from Spain and has married into the favela. She was very helpful, brought drinks and cleaned instruments.
It wasn’t possible to transport the operating tables all the way from Alonse into the favela. Here the vets have to use whatever people bring them; mostly kitchen tables.
Ingrid Stegemann has already the next patient on the table while Dolores and a pet owner wrap a freshly operated dog into a clean white sheet. The owner will now sit with the animal during the post-operative phase, not leaving it alone for one moment.
The people of La Cienaga haven’t forgotten the vets from the far away Europe.
The distrust they still had 2015 when most of them saw anesthetized animals for the first time and believed them to be dead has vanished and the people are glad about the help the foreign vets bring.
Alfred Huber spaying a cat, a tiring work in a bent position on this low table…
Anja, the tallest of the team, therefore operates often sitting down.
The colourfully painted little houses all have numbers although no postman comes here.
The activities in front of house number 322 attract a lot of neighbours…
The day ends at house number 329. 10 bitches, 3 males and 4 cats were spayed and neutered. A whole weekend is planned for the next visit in the favela so that all residents will be at home and can use the opportunity to get their animals fixed.
The 1 / 8 was a day off with time to sleep in, have a relaxed breakfast and stroll through the Zona Colonial. In the afternoon the team drove to Boca Chica where they were received by Mara Brasola who had already organized last year’s clinic here.
They stayed again in the hotel Neptuno’s Refugio.
The house they operated in last time has been torn down but Mara found a suitable building close by with several rooms and a bathroom. Her friend Roberto drove the team every morning to the clinic.
4 – 5 Dominican ladies were there every day to clean instruments…
…fill in the lists and take the photos.
As already last year pallets replaced tables, a simple but ingenious method to change the height of the working surface and make sure that each surgeon could work in a position as comfortable as possible.
Nancy, one of the volunteers, was a student of veterinary medicine who could already neuter male dogs and cats. She was a great help for the team.
Space blankets proved to be a great aid to keep patients warm after surgery.
They will become a standard part of our equipment from now on..
Already the first bitch was an emergency. She had given birth to a dead puppy 2 days ago and still had 3 dead puppies inside her womb as well as a sticker sarcoma the size of a walnut.
An advanced pyometra…
During the day Mara brought a tarp as cover for the operating surface that proved to be very practical.
33 animals were spayed and neutered on the first day in Boca Chica, 15 bitches, 9 males and 9 cats.
A lot of them were former strays in foster care or already adopted with the promise to get spayed/neutered at the next opportunity.
Number 100, the last patient of the first day in Boca Chica.
The 01 / 10 began with dogs. er 10. 01. This lady brought two, a male…
…and a bitch.
Then the clinic was flooded by cats…
20 cats were fixed on this day.
Anja setting an intravenous catheter already on the ground. Apart from the cats, 18 bitches and 7 males were operated that day.
When the vets arrived in the morning of the 01/11, the last day of the operative, the helpers had sent already 10 people away because there were just too many animals listed. Still, the vets worked til 7 pm.
41 animals were spayed and neutered, 20 bitches, 6 males and 15 cats.
Dolores Rohrer had to take an earlier flight back home. She had to leave when patient 141 came.
2 males were cryptorchids, one dog had a nictitating membrane, one bitch had pyometra and one dog stopped breathing but could be resuscitated successfully.
Despite all the work the Dominican helpers were always cheerful.
The very last patient of this year’s operative…
Dr. Alfred Huber stayed a few days longer in the Dominican Republic and operated 6 more cats for the Cat Lovers RD after the other vets had left.
A great Thank you to all helpers, donators and sponsors who enabled us to do this operative! We had hoped to finally open the planned feeding station for the beach dogs of Boca Chica during these days but the town’s supervisor who has to be present for the construction of the foundation on public land was on holidays so we have to be patient once more.