Spay And Neuter Clinics
2. Spay Neuter Operative in Yonu with Dr. Astrid Patzak
(09/09 – 09/14/2022)
09/09 Dr. Astrid Patzak wrote: „ We are sitting in the train on our way to Frankfurt airport!“
After having to stop the campaign in April due to a family emergency she was particularly happy to be able to return now to continue her work. It had taken her weeks of planning and preparation to take this week off.
Actually it had been planned to use the same hall as in April but all of a sudden it was needed for a meeting and Gaby Schummer had to find another place in a hurry.
At the new location it took a while to find the best possible set up for the surgeries.
Then Dr. Patzak began...
The next day the hall could be used again.
This little lady was the first on the table.
Waiting pet owners in the back and as usual…
…many children and adolescents.
A young male is being lifted on the table.
His owner is watching the preparations with great concern.
And then suddenly something unbelievable happened…
A dog already anesthetized jumped up and bit Dr. Patzak into her hand.
One of its teeth entered deeply…
A child was trying to comfort Dr. Patzak who suffered not just from the pain the wound was causing but also from the great disappointment being unable to continue and having to end also her second operative this year shortly after it started. Despite antibiotics the wound became inflamed and after a sleepless night spent taking a large dose of painkillers she decided to fly home.
09/14 she wrote: „Today we return to Germany; still can’t use my hand but my assistant can always make me laugh.“
And despite all this bad luck her visits at Gabi’s have achieved a lot; a number of dogs got spayed and neutered and 2 large dog families were saved that didn’t seem to have a future before.
Adelina, the bitch that Dr. Patzak met in April at a gas station is meanwhile in Germany.
Her puppies were taken over by another animal welfare association to be adopted.
Adelina after her arrival.
Dr. Patzak would have liked to keep her but Adelina didn’t get along with her other dogs.
She went to a foster place that became her forever home.
Drimell, the bitch that almost died of starvation…
…and her puppies are still in the Dominican Republic with Dee Morrison, Moringa’s Mission, near Cabarete.
They have developed into gorgeous young dogs. Here photos of some of them …
This young male was already adopted in the Dominican Republic.
And these two…
…have already places waiting for them in Germany.
But there is already another litter, their mother got poisoned.
We hope very much that Dr. Patzak will return in 2023 with more luck because a small team like hers, no more than 2 people, is ideal for Gabi Schummer whose situation is note made for larger groups. And the need is great!
Spay Neuter Project Dominican Republic (June 2022)
by Emmylou Lynch
Before the journey…
In winter 2021/2022 five students, Viki Lex, Maximilian Metzger, Paula Wildner, Eileen Bayliss and me, Emmylou Lynch, applied to participate in a spay neuter project in the Dominican Republic organized by the Association for Aid and Support of the Creole Dogs.
After a telephone call with the president Isabel Gorski-Grobe where we got the basic information about the project we booked our flights. The first lead vet dropped out and was replaced by Josephine Lange, also called Alma. She ordered all the medication and materials.
We founded a WhatsApp-group to be always in touch and exchange information. Despite that we had a few problems. We hadn’t communicated correctly how much luggage each member of the group would have to take or how much space would be needed in our suitcases and bags and so we had to book an additional suitcase in the last moment, the evening before our flight. Otherwise we couldn’t have transported all the material.
Our advice to future students: Book right away additional luggage ( about 20 kilo) and make sure every member knows what task he/she has to take care of.
In case you are already licensed vets you can help the lead vet with organizing and transporting materials and equipment.
I met Alma in Gießen to take on materials of which we had thought before that it would all fit in one big suitcase….
In the end we needed four!
After this slightly difficult start everything went smoothly and we flew from Frankfurt to Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.
Only Viki who came from Austria took a different flight. In Santo Domingo we were picked up by 2 Dominican students with a small van who brought us to Santiago. They didn’t speak English and it would have been good if one of us had spoken a few words Spanish..
One has to get used to the driving style in the Dominivan Republic; it’s a bit scary at first.
But we arrived safely in Santiago and went to bed, all very tired.
We were accommodated in the Air B&B apartment of the mother of Dr. Gisselle in whose clinic we worked.
The apartment has a living room,…
…a fully equipped kitchen…
…and 3 bedrooms with double beds and there is an additional mattress on which one can sleep very comfortably.
The first day…
In the morning we drove to the clinic…
…met the team and set everything up.
We always ordered an Uber to go back and forth to the clinic and shared the cost.
Dr.Giselle speaks English as well as some of the Dominican students who do practical training there but the rest of the team speak only Spanish and we communicated with gestures and translation machines..
The clinic dog…
Dogs in the clinic shelter…
Altogether we spayed and neutered 113 animalst. Only a few came from the clinic shelter.
Most of them were former strays that had been adopted.
Dogs with mange…
…a very common disease in the Caribbean.
The cattery of the clinic
There was already a first cat there that morning and Alma spayed it to demonstrate to us how it’s done.
The room we used had about 10 – 12 sqare meters, quite small but large enough for us.
We always brought plenty of drinking water along as it gets quite warm during the day.
We worked in 2 teams..
One was responsable for the anesthetizing and post-operative monitoring …
…and the other did the surgeries.
Tom cats and other small surgeries were sometimes also done by one person alone.
On June 7th Josephine Lange wrote: “Today 4 pregnant cats …
…and 2 with pyometra. Today the students gained quite a bit of experience.“
Also the spay board…
…was often used .
With male dogs…
When we started spaying bitches…
…the lead vet Josephine Langealways worked together with one student.
The next 4 days followed the same routine.
We arrived at 8 am at the clinic and after a short preparation we started with the surgeries.
Cages filled with animals were awaiting us every morning and we never knew before if it were going to be cats or dogs, males or females.. .
The cages were numbered and we spayed and neutered the animals inside one after the other.
We could order lunch at the clinic and during the lunch break we planned the afternoon.
We finished in the evening around 6/7 pm, went shopping and cooked together.
We were always very tired and went to bed early. The first days we did mostly male and female cats; about 20 animals per day. When we started on dogs we did about 10 per day.
Everybody was supposed to spay neuter at least one cat …
…and one dog per day…,
…as well as assist the surgeons and do anesthesia.
This way we learnt very fast.
Among the female cats and dogs there were pregnancies as well as pyometras.
So we actually saw everything a surgeon can experience when spaying/neutering cats and dogs.
After 5 days we took a weekend of and went to Puerto Plata and to the beach..
We went canyoning in the djungle….
…and relaxed on the beach
During the last week we slowed down a bit, also because the material supplies were coming to an end. We focused on bitches and by the end of the week everybody felt confident spaying a bitch with assistence.
On the last day each of us received a certificate from Dr. Gisselle that is also here acknowledged as proof of an internship.
The next day we drove with Gisselle and her family to the capital.
In the streets of Santo Doming…
…artists sell their paintings. Cats keep them company.
From there we drove to our Air B&B where we spent a few days vacationing before we flew back to Germany.
Spay Neuter Project in Yonu with Dr. Astrid Patzak (04/24-04/25/2022)
After 7 long years Dr. Astrid Patzak is back for us in the Dominican Republic! In 2014/15 she spayed and neutered in Punta Cana; this time she was in Yonu with Gabi Schummer, where we had a first campaign with Claudia Bretthauer in 2019. Dr Patzak came with her longtime assistant, who speaks Spanish fluently. Gabi Schummer had chosen a very nice hotel for them; the Art Villa Dominicana, a small Bed & Breakfast with 28 rooms, just 500m away from the Arena Gorda beach.
The morning of April 24th was spent preparing and setting up for the surgeries.
That took some time, Gabi Schummer captured it in this video:
Surgeries took place in the same hall where Claudia Bretthauer worked. It offers plenty of space, air and shade. Each patient was accompanied by several family members.
Many children and adolescents came along with their animals.
And of course, there were also Chihuahuas, the Dominicans‘ favorite breed…
And that was the youngest patient, only 4 months old.
Dr. Patzak operated near the entrance where she had the best light. The first bitch on the operating table…
Soon after she lies in a basket to sleep off the anesthesia.
Meanwhile, the next dog is being operated.
Also little Kimi, only 4 months old, has recovered well after surgery.
6 dogs were spayed and neutered the first day, 3 bitches and 3 males.
The first patient is ready to go home.
It should have been 7 dogs but this one, the beautiful Boca Negra, had problems with the anesthesia.
The surgery had to be stopped and Dr. Patzak and her assistant had to struggle for quite some time to revive him while trying to avoid to alarm the dog’s owner who fortunately hadn’t realized how serious the situation was.
Here he is already doing better again…
At a gas station Dr. Patzak and her assistant made friends with Adelina.
Adelina is a very friendly, gentle bitch, just as grateful for a slice of bread as for a real meal with dog chow. And she has had a litter a short while ago…
Her puppies are hidden behind cardboard between a few rocks, 7 altogether.
Adelina enjoys getting spoiled by her new friends who then visit the puppies.
It’s Good bye for today, Adelina has to stay at the gas station with her babies.
This is another bitch with a large litter. She is in such a bad condition that the local vet was afraid to spay her.
9 puppies are the result which this nearly starved bitch has to nurse now.
Next morning they started early. Little Tai was the first female on the table…
…followed by this one.
Most patients that day were very young.
3 five months old bitches, all sisters,…
…Watchiman and King, 2 males of 8 and 7 months and little Tai, 6 months.
This is Negrita. We have her also on video:
Slowly the boxes fill up with sleeping animals.
A tom cat is also there.
Finally it’s the turn of this patiently waiting dog.
27 The heart beat gets checked before surgery.
11 animals were spayed and neutered the second day, 6 bitches, 4 male dogs and 1 tom cat.
Again a lot of children had come and during a break Dr. Pathak and the kids were teaching each other a few words in Spanish and German…
…while the patients recover…
…from the anesthesia.
Bad news arrived in the evening: Because of a family emergency Dr. Patzak had to return to Germany immediately. She left all her equipment behind, planning to come back and continue as soon as possible.
Behind stayed also Adelina and Drimell, the 2 females with their 16 puppies…
Dr. Patzak is very concerned about the fate of all of them!
Spay and Neuter Operative in Boca Chica and Las Terrenas
with Claudia Bretthauer (02/25 – 03/06/2022)
2 long years we waited for this moment…
The operative in Boca Chica was planned particularly for Helena Motta, an Italian lady who cares for about 180 - 250 cats and dogs there; the exact numbers are unknown.
Mostly in the evenings she makes her rounds…
In the dark the animals arrive in large groups at the feeding spots.
Helena had asked for help particularly for the cats some of which get into heat 3 times a year. Now we could finally assist her.
Apart from Helena's cats dogs of Boca Chica residents were spayed and neutered. We didn't focus on beach dogs this time as we were lacking catchers.
An empty pizzeria served as clinic.
On 02/25 Claudia Bretthauer met her team at the highway near the airport. The luggage was repacked a last time to stow everything in bags and suitcases. And off they went to get their plane…
In Santo Domingo they were met by Wilkins Mesa who drove them to Boca Chica. He had to go twice as people and luggage didn't fit all at once in his car.
Arrival in Boca Chica! The team was put up in 2 accommodations, one belonged to a pizzeria the owner of which welcomed them with a free dinner.
The view out of the window the next morning; palm trees and a clearly Caribbean ambience.
The day starts with setting up the clinic.
Clean water has to be bought in gallon bottles,
cat spay boards have to be fixed to the walls and many things more…
Many busy hands change the pizzeria quickly…
…into a field surgery.
Around lunchtime everything is ready.
The first patient…
…is a cat.
2 members of the team came from the veterinary clinic Posthausen: Veterinary assistant Vivien Lear responsable for prep and medication …
…and surgeon Sebastian Rauth.
Claudia Bretthauer's friends Danica and Dominik took care of the registration and the post-operative care and helped everywhere where helping hands were needed.
Dominik with registration list and tattoo pliers…
…while Danica is shaving.
The tattooing is one of Dominik's tasks.
Every animal's ear gets tattooed.
The cats get an additional ear tip.
Milli, a German lady who lives in Boca Chica, was an indispensable support to the team.
Also she was everywhere where help was needed.
Milli and Eduardo want to support our beachdog project in the future but first of all they will get married during the next few days. We wish them all the happiness in the world!
The first visitors appear…
Soon the place is as busy as it is normal for a field clinic, appearing a bit chaotic only at first sight.
Waiting patients everywhere …
14 bitches, 12 cats and 6 tom cats were spayed and neutered on the first day.
A stroll along the beach in the evening;
the team met for dinner at Vivien's and Sebastian's.
On the way to work the next morning…
Dominik checks the registration lists…
…while the first patients arrive.
…8 male dogs, 16 cats and 6 tom cats get spayed and neutered that day.
That's like working on an assembly line!
Not only the surgeons,…
…also the helpers have their hands full…
…and nobody gets a moment of rest.
The recovery fills up quickly.
Sleeping patients …
… wherever there is a free space.
Lunch break with chicken and rice from the vendor in front of the clinic.
A difficult case in the afternoon: A relatively heavy female came in with pyometra. Several large blood vessels in the dog's fatty tissue began to bleed strongly and had to be sewed up repeatedly. The bitch lost a lot of blood and had difficulties to recover.
Her owner was very worried.
To bring her dog home she had organized a cart
normally used to transport garbage.
Carefully the precious load is carried outside…
…and placed into the cart.
Luna seems to feel quite comfortable there.
And the cart-owner is obviously pleased about this unusual freight.
Third and last day in Boca Chica; the team is by now well-coordinated. 7 bitches and 2 male dogs were spayed and neutered.
But mainly this was the day of the cats!
37 of them were spayed and neutered, 20 queens and 17 toms.
The spay boards were constantly in use.
Claudia Bretthauer demonstrates in this video that what Anja HeÃŸ described 2018 during her operative in Palo Alto when there was a lot of criticism and doubts about the use of spay boards for 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."
Not only people wait in front of the clinic,…
…also dogs seem to be curious to find out what's happening inside.
And Luna comes for a check up. She has completely recovered.
Her owner is very happy.
The two arrive at the same time as the TV team that Milli had organized and become unexpectedly TV stars.
Later in the day tha cats are picked up; a rich harvest!
And finally what every visitor of the Caribbean dreams about!
The team enjoys the crystal-clear warm water of the Caribbean…
Dominik expresses the happiness most likely felt by everybody in this moment!
At the beach restaurant afterwards they can enjoy the view once more…
Saying Good bye the next morning to the beach and its residents.
Vivien discovers several dogs with ear tips. These are the dogs that Dr. Emilio Vasquez spayed for us in 2021. We are very happy that they seem to do fine and the marking is well visible.
Time to leave! In October the work shall be continued.
Wilkins Mesa is already waiting …
…this time with 2 cars, one for the people, one for the luggage. They drive to the Parada SamanÃ¡.
There the team continues the trip in one of the big air-conditioned busses with lots of storage room underneath.
They drive to Las Terrenas
where everybody waits for the return of Claudia Bretthauer since 2020.
Las Terrenas and El Limón
In Las Terrenas dinner was already waiting for the team in Stephanie's villa. Claudia Bretthauer, Danica and Dominik stayed also here; Vivien Lear and Sebastian Rauth were accommodated at another place.
The operative took also place at Stepjanie's.
The Villa is surrounded by a large roofed porch
that offers plenty of space for patients…
…and operating vets.
The pool directly opposite of the surgery…
A lot of helpers were there, also Dr. Romy, a local vet, came to help.
He held the animals while they were anesthetized.
A massage bed was turned into an operating table, bricks were used to bring it up to the required height. Plastic wrap was used additionally to gauze bandages to secure the patients in the proper position.
There was plenty of space also for the recovery.
Dr. Romy's girlfriend took care of the post-operative monitoring.
5 cats, 4 male dogs…
…and 39 bitches, 4 of them pregnant, one with pyometra, were spayed and neutered on the first day in Las Terrenas. One bitch had a sticker sarcoma in such an advanced state that it proved to be inoperable. She died during the surgery, otherwise she would have had to be euthanized because she wouldn't have been able to urinate much longer anymore and would have suffered a painful death.
After work a refreshing bath in the pool…
Also in the dark the illuminated pool looked very inviting but this evening there were more important things to do: A bitch had to be re-operated because a ligature had slipped causing an inner bleeding.
Dominik spent the whole night holding her; sleeping very lightly and listening to every breath of the patient .
This night had consequences!
Dominik and Danica fell in love with the dog which felt already way better the next morning. They called her Babe and decided to adopt her. Presently Babe is at Patricia's being prepared for the journey to Germany. In October she'll be ready to travel.
The reception the next morning; still quiet before the day starts.
But soon it gets just as busy as the day before!
Cages everywhere where there is just a little bit of shade…
Special friends awaiting their turn.
This lady is watching herself over her dog sleeping off the anesthesia…
…while her daughter is taking care of the second pet.
36 bitches, 9 of them pregnant, one with pyometra, 7 male dogs, 9 cats, 2 tom cats, one of them a cryptorchid, were spayed and neutered the second day.
One of the dogs came with a terrible cut underneath its eyei caused by a blow of a machete. Luckily the eye wasn't hurt.
Dr. Romy's mother brought vitamin K for Babe. She had wanted to bring 7 dogs to get spayed and neutered but they had all got poisoned the day before. Unfortunately things like this still happen again and again which shows that spay neuter alone isn't enough to change people's attitude towards the animals but that more projects are needed like our school program in Barbados or projects in tourist spots like the one we are trying to realize in Boca Chica.
The last day they went to the shelter in El Limón, Coconut Hound Haven, run by Dogs and Cats of the Dominican Republic.
Beth and Jesse Levendis operate the shelter which opened in January 2021 offering a temporary home to approximately 45 dogs on a terrain of 4000 sqare meters. One tries to place as many animals as possible, mainly in Canada.
The team is greeted by loud barking; the first people are already waiting with their animals.
This lady takes care of the patients' registration, equipped with lists, pens, masking tape and camera.
Here the surgery is inside The table is lacking some legs…
…but a creative improvisation allows Claudia Bretthauer to operate safely on it. She works barefoot as always in the Caribbean.
Sebastian Rauth has found a suitable place to operate right beside the sink.
While the surgeons are busily at work inside…
…a line up begins to build up outside.
Soon the recovery fills up.
A puppy waiting for its turn.
This lady monitored the sleeping dogs.
There she is again! The young female has gone through surgery very well and is already looking perkily into the world.
Caribbean people are always very creative when it comes to transporting their animals. This dog travels home in a carton secured with tape.
37 bitches and 11 male dogs were spayed and neutered on this very last day of the campaign. Claudia Bretthauer operated also a dog suffering from a blood ear.
Despite all this work there was still some time for enjoyment;
a cocktail at a restaurant…
…or a browse in a gift shop during a tropical rain shower.
The team is enjoying a last time the beach and the ocean…
…even though the water of the Atlantic rolling in is not quite as clear and turquoise as the Caribbean sea in the south of the Dominican Republic.
Danica enjoys a drink that looks very much like
a Piña Colada in the original package.
Afterwards it's time for stocktaking. Everything that wasn't used up stays for next time.
The operative ends as it began; with a dinner among friends.