Spay Neuter Operative in El Valle
with Claudia Bretthauer (11/23 – 11/30/2022)
Last clinic in 2022…
On 11/23/22 Claudia Bretthauer landed for the last time this year in Santo Domingo accompanied by her mother and her friends and helper Sonja and Mirco Flach-Schmidt. From there they drove to El Valle, a very special place 42 km away from Santa Barbara de Samaná at the north coast of the peninsula Samaná.
They rode through a beautiful, unspoiled landscape…
…to the small place way off the beaten tracks of tourism.
El Valle has 4 km of sandy, mostly deserted beach inbetween coastal rocks.
Despite the beauty of the place visitors are warned to go swimming here because of dangerous currents and a strong surf. They are advised to bathe at the mouth of the Rio San Juan or in the hotel pools.
Instead of big All Inclusive hotels …
…there is the Dominican Tree House Village where the team stayed for 4 days.
…or ladders lead to the accommodations.
Claudia Bretthauer writes: „The hotel has a lounge; there is daily entertainment, yoga and dance classes…
…and a beautiful pool.“
The small laundry of the hotel…
Large supermarkets don’t exist but vendors offer a great variety…
…of tropical fruits and vegetables on the back of their trucks.
The clinic took place 500 m away from the Tree House Village...
…at the reception building of a riding stable.
As most buildings in El Valle, also this one is constructed completely from natural materials grown in the region. In the front the Project Samaná banner of Kim Beddall is hung up who has organized the clinic. She had been asked for help with spay neuter a while ago by the hotels that had a problem with uncontrolled reproducing strays and when hotels and touristic enterprises want to spay neuter rather than to poison we are ready to assist right away. That’s why Claudia Bretthauer flew once again to the Dominican Republic only a short while after the large operative in October.
The surgery had about 35 m².
As soon as everything was set up…
…the clinic started with 2 amputations.
Both times victims of car accidents; both times males that had been most likely chasing females in heat.
This little guy lost his right hind leg; 6 bone fragments had to be removed.
Neatly stitched up and neutered at the same time…
…he is sleeping off the anesthesia.
The second male had an open fracture at the left hind leg with an advanced necrosis. Also he got neutered the same time. Both patients recovered well.
Along for the first time: Claudia Bretthauer‘s mother…
As former nurse she gave all the shots.
Arrival on a motoconcho…
With this means of transport many animals were brought …
…and taken back home again.
10 bitches and 4 males were spayed neutered the first day.
A drink in frint of the clinic at the end of the day… Jana and Lisa had come from Las Galeras to join the team. They had enjoyed the operative in October so much that they wanted to participate also in El Valle.
The next day 14 bitches,…
…2 queens and a tom cat were spayed and neutered.
The two males that had been amputated the day before are walking already surprisingly well.
The brown and white male seems to have a bit more problems to move; most likely because he isn’t accustomed to a leash.
This one came from Las Galeras and its treatment was continued there.
The other one was checked every day by Claudia Bretthauer…
…who examined carefully the healing process.
Dr. Francisco, here with Kim Beddall, was again responsable for the rabies vaccination of all animals.
On the third day 12 bitches and 10 males were spayed and neutered.
During the surgery of one bitch one of the ovaries broke and slipped away towards the kidneys, strongly bleeding. It took some effort for Claudia to retrieve it but the bitch got well through the surgery and recovered without problems.
…and 4 tom cats were spayed and neutered that day as well.
Evening at the beach with the usual companions; a beach dog and a pina colada…
The next day was the first Advent and the streets of El Valle were decorated accordingly, Christmas time in the Caribbean!
…2 males and 2 queens were spayed neutered that day. German emigrants brought a dog and an injured cat.
The residents of El Valle used the chance and brought their puppies.
Baskets full of them arrived …
…to get de-wormed.
Also the children seem to realize how important a dewormer is for puppies.
In the evening the team moved from the Dominican Tree House Village to La Colmena, a small hotel 400 m away from the beach, with only 5 suites built in the style of El Valle from local trees and bamboo with palm-thatched roofs…
…and also a very nice pool. The Tree House Village and La Colmena shared the sponsoring of accommodation for the team and we say Thank you very much!
The next morning the cook of the El Valle Lodge served a delicious breakfast to thank the team for operating his dog.
12 bitches, 2 males…
…and 2 queens were brought that day.
One of the bitches was pregnant.
She would have given birth to a large litter.
On the last morning came 2 bitches, 1 male and a cat.
No 100, one of the last patients…
…here in the recovery. 103 animals were spayed neutered in total.
Lunch was served on the beach by a restaurant that had sent 5 dogs to get spayed neutered.
Farewell to El Valle!
But certainly not forever!
Spay Neuter Project Santiago
by Andrea Andrijasevic (10/11 – 10/26/2022)
After an intense period of planning and organizing we finally arrived in Santiago on October 9th 2022 to start our spay neuter project. We landed in Santo Domingo and took a cab to Santiago. We had brought all medical materials with us. Only the anesthesia and the infusions were bought in Santiago. The group consisted of 5 students, Hermann, Laura, Paulina, Axel, Andrea and one experienced vet, Stine Fischer from the university clinic in Munich.
We had booked a very nice Air B&B about 10 minutes walk away fron the clinic Hacienda Urbana.
The Air B&B had a large pool, a washing machine and a dryer.
On Monday we were at the clinic at 7:30 am and were welcomed by Dr. Giselle Santos who led us around. She speaks English very well, the staff speak mostly Spanish.
We had a small surgery…
…with 2 tables,…
…where we unpacked our 4 suitcases and set things up.
The room was just big enough for us but didn’t have a good ventilation so it got often very hot.
An infusion machine with volume control and timer belongs to the clinic equipment…
…so that also the smallest patients can be given infusions safely.
We had a plan how many and what kind of animals…
…we were going to spay neuter each day…
…and the patients were scheduled accordingly.
But after we had done only tom cats the first day and were quite fast at doing that we asked Dr. Giselle if we could get more animals.
The next day we had a lot more animals…
…and the surgeries of females take a lot more time…
…we didn’t manage to finish them on our own; Dr. Gisselle had to come and help. Afterwards we agreed that she would schedule more animals, we would do as many as we could and Dr. Gisselle would operate the rest herself. This worked very well.
The current went off pretty often…
…and the head torches that we had brought with us proved to be very useful.
We worked mostly from 8 am til 6 pm. Later, when we mostly spayed bitches we worked in two groups because the lead vet could monitor only one spay at a time. Lunch could be ordered at the clinic; mostly a dish with rice.
On the first weekend we went with the clinic team to a spay neuter campaign in Sosúa on the north coast of the Dominican Republic and helped setting intravenous catheters, giving vaccinations, antibiotics and pain killers or dressing wounds.
Afterwards we went to the beach. The second weekend we took Saturday off and worked on Sunday.
We had chosen our Air B&B as close to the clinic as possible, quite far from the center of town.
To go there, for example to shop at the big market, it is best to take an Uber.
This market offers a large range of products and all kinds of food imaginable.
The last evening we spent with the clinic team in a very nice restaurant and had a farewell dinner.
All in all we can say that this was a very good instructive but also at times strenuous experience. To all interested in a project like this we recommend the direct communication with Dr. Gisselle Santos as many things can be planned better already before this way; for instance we could have ordered a lot of material vis the clinic instead of paying for excess luggage. If you want to go out at night you should probably chose an accommodation closer to the center of town but you have to consider that you will have to take then a bus or Uber every day to go to the clinic. Giselle plans to install air conditioning in the room that we used as surgery which would be great.
Before we left we all got a certificate from Dr. Gisselle Santos,…
…also our lead vet as certified teacher. Stine Fischer was very pleased!
Spay Neuter Operative in Las Terrenas, El Limón and Las Galeras
with Claudia Bretthauer (10/02 – 10/14 2022)
It was our biggest operative so far, scheduled with 6 vets, 7 assistants and the goal to spay neuter 500 animals. The operative should have happened in Boca Chica to mark the start of our pilot project in sustainable animal welfare; with a feeding project for spayed/neutered and monitored beach dogs, the integration of tourists into the project, a job for a local animal welfare worker, an educational program at schools as well as for adults to teach the right treatment of animals and a kind attitude towards them, the creating of a local foster family network for animals and of course regularly held high volume spay neuter clinics; a project for which we had been battling very hard during the past 5 years. The mayer, television and the press should have been there and the project should have become widely known, far beyond the borders of Boca Chica as role model and inspiration for others.
But in spring it became evident that animal welfare has no chance in Boca Chica at the moment even though welcomed equally by officials and residents of the town. Former project director Emily Espinosa has moved to Florida and there is no local animal welfare organization in Boca Chica or nearby whom which we could have co-operated, only some individuals who are already overtaxed with trying to help animals in small ways, not wanting to work with one another and lacking the competence to develop and maintain a project with such ambitions. When we finally and sadly had to admit to ourselves that our greatest project.
Still, it was a large team and the luggage was accordingly…
Kim Beddall had rented a mini bus that brought the team back and forth from the airport to Las Terrenas, El Limón, Las Galeras and to the return flight.
Patricia Jakobs had organized seveal accommodations in Las Terrenas; at the house of Edith…
…and in the villa of Stephanie,…
…both places where clinics have taken place already in the past.
The rest of the team stayed in small hotel apartments.
Helena Kovacova, one of the participants in our first student project in February 2020 took part as surgeon for the time together with her friend Nadine. They flew from Vienna and landed so late that they had to spend the night in Santo Domingo.
They stayed in a small hotel and were visited late at night by this giant crab that made quite an impression on them as this interesting photo shows. The next morning they took the bus to Las Terrenas and met the team at lunchtime.
A huge sport arena served as surgery.
The organization was perfect. A large number of big folding tables awaited the team…
…and endless space to spread out materials and set up the clinic.
There was a lot to do to get ready for the start on this first morning.
The view from above…
Lots of space also for the recovering animals…
Never-ending work cleaning the instruments…
Shaving of already anesthetized cats.
Claudia as she loves it…! On the first evening she sent us a What’s App message: „35 bitches, 2 of them pregnant, 14 males, 3 queens, 2 toms.“
The other vets: Nadine who had already taken part in a field clinic in Greece, Helena Kovacova and behind them Felicia Krämer who operated 2018 at the Carriacou Animal Hospital Carriacou, a small island that belongs to Grenada.
Helena and Nadine worked together and spayed/neutered soon more than 10 animals per day. More important though was the fact that they could work completely on their own without needing help from Claudia Bretthauer. That is the level of skill young surgeons have to have when they want to participate in field clinics. We advise all senior students/beginning vets to take part in our student project where they can practice for 2 weeks beginning with tom cats and finishing with bitches under the guidance of an experienced surgeon who doesn’t operate himself but only teaches without the goal to reach a certain number of spayed/neutered animals.
Felicia Krämer; in Carriacou she fell in love with Buddy, a dog that she had to leave behind because since 2018 the EU demands a blood test 1 month after the rabies vaccination followed by 3 months of quarantine for animals coming from Grenada. When Buddy had passed all preparations there were no direct flights, a condition of the airline for animal transports.
April 2019 Claudia Bretthauer held a clinic on Grenada. She had a direct flight back and Buddy could finally travel to Frankfurt.
3 years later the 2 vets worked for the first time together. Here Felicia with a very young patient…
The animals wore masks.
This way they are not dazzled by the bright light when they wake up and can recover slowly and relaxed.
Dr. Elias from Coco Dogs is always happy about Claudia’s visits and came to help her and her team.
On 10/03 and 10/05 he spayed and neutered together with the other vets.
This lady brought her cat wrapped in a jacket…
…other feline patients were so wild that they were packed in carefully closed boxes. At a location open to all sides like the sport arena it’s a challenge to anesthetize such an animal. The team succeeded with no 73, it was a female. She even has a name, Cenisa, and an owner, Mark. The question remains unanswered: How did Mark get Cenisa into the box?
People were very creative when constructing cat cages to transport their animals to the clinic.
On 10/04 31 bitches, 2 of them pregnant, 14 males, 12 queens and 5 toms were spayed and neutered. One young dog died of distemper on the location. The disease is spreading right now again on the peninsula. The victims are mostly very young animals.
On 10/05 47 bitches, one of them pregnant, 14 males, 8 queens and 7 toms were spayed and neutered …
…and ob 10/06 28 bitches, 2 of them pregnant, one with pyometra, 13 males, 11 queens and 3 toms.
10/ 07 was the first day off and of course there was only one place to go, the beach…
… Playa Cocon.
A small beach bar…
…offered drinks fitting the scenery.
With a Pina Colada served in a scooped out pineapple…
…the team enjoyed the view.
Afterwards they went for a refreshing swim.
The rest of the day was pure delight!
Part 2 - El Limón
On 10/08 the bus took the team to El Limón.
Here the fire brigade had offered a pavilion on their grounds for the clinic.
The cat spay board has been set up already. In the back one can see…
…more pavilions that offer shade or protection from the rain to waiting pet keepers and their animals.
At the reception the patients get registered; muzzles are handed for those that need them and…
…the animals are weighed to determine the dose of anesthesia. They get photographed and taped with their registration number. To the right Kim Beddall from Samaná to whom we owe the perfect organization of the clinic, the transportation and the equpment - many thanks, Kim!
Right beside the reception the tables for the cleaning and desinfecting of the instruments…
The team at work. Among the bitches were many older animals that had given birth already numerous times.
In consequence there were a lot of cases where hysterectomies were necessary because of brittle wombs.
2 dogs came with tumours. This bitch had a huge tumour at her leg…
…which could be removed successfully without amputation and she was spayed the same time.
The next one, also a bitch, had a big tumour on her chest.
Also here the surgeon succeeded in removing the tumour and spaying the bitch at the same time.
Unfortunately this dog couldn’t be helped anymorie. It came with a complicated fracture of the thigh bone and an advanced sepsis caused most likely by a car accident.
It had to be euthanized.
One male was a one-sided cryptorchid, 6 bitches had pyometra and 2 were pregnant.
In total 40 bitches, 12 males and 2 cats were spayd and neutered that day.
The next day the cat spay board was used more often;…
…a new experience for Helena Kovacova.
With the bitches the same as the day before; many brittle wombs…
and one pregnancy. The reason for this is shocking to us who don’t live day after day with the harsh reality of developing countries and the uncontrolled reproduction of countless stray animals there: The focus was on older females that have learnt already to deal with the daily dangers of living on the street and that have therefore a higher life expectancy and consequently more litters than the young ones. Most of the very young not vaccinated female strays won’t live long enough to experience their first heat, no matter if they are true stray or have an owner who doesn’t care! This confirms in the saddest way our conviction that spay neuter alone is not enough. To succeed in improving the life of animals in developing countries spay neuter operatives have to be accompanied by educational programs that teach the local people to become responsable, caring pet keepers who view their animals as family members; as it is being practiced already in our school and youth project on Barbados. We have to focus more on sustainability in our animal welfare projects and we have to demand also from our partners on location that they invest the necessary time and energy into this. The local people, young and old, whom we meet again and again, with pets as their best friends show us the great potential that exists for developing empathic qualities and love for animals in the Caribbean and that this is a very rewarding investment!
A new patient is being broughtach…
…that obviously enjoys the comfort of its basket.
These girls are waiting patiently for their pet to recover and get ready to go home again.
43 bitches, 18 males, 5 queens and 2 toms were spayed and neutered on the second day in El Limón.
The 10/10 was the second day off.
The team made a tour through town with motoconchos…
…through picturesque streets…
…passing street vendors…
…and their trucks loaded with tropical fruits.
The tour ended at another paradisical beach.
A small restaurant with ocean view…
…served pina coladas.
Claudia Bretthauer seems totally happy and content…
…the others most likely as well!
Part 3 - Las Galeras
In the afternoon of 10/11 the team moved to Las Galeras, the last location of this operative.
Las Galeras is very popular among tourists; a pretty, small place with many little bungelow hotels.
The banc is in a picturesque small Creole house; the streets are lined with gift shops…
…and fruit stands.
And Las Galeras has a beautiful beach with snow-white, powdery sand!
Since a few years a small animal welfare organization exists here, Rescate y Adopción Las Galeras,. Our operative was their first high volume clinic and in the beginning the president Carolina, a French lady, was worried if they could handle an operative that size.
But Kim Beddall, here with Claudia Bretthauer, organized everything as perfectly as usual.
The team was accommodated in a cottage and a small bungalow-hotel.
An illuminated path led through a garden with tropical flowers…
…to the individual accommodations.
Diner was sponsored by the hotel.
Afterwards the team relaxed in a lit up pool. The breakfast on the next morning was provided by a French bistro.
The clinic was held in the garden of the church Iglesia de la Protecta de Dios. People with dogs and cats were waiting already under the roof of a large pavilon.
The surgeries took place in a roofed building that was open to the sides, offering lots of air and shade. There were many fans at the ceiling and on the tables.
Soon all surgeons had patients on their tables …
Hier das Video Arbeitsplatz Las Galeras
…and it was as busy as usual during a field clinic .
Nadine is spaying a bitch…
…while Claudia Bretthauer spays a cat.
This bitch seems to have needed a hysterectomy …
The next patients, a male…
…and a tom cat, are waiting already.
The owners could stay with their animals during the preparation for surgery…
…and while recovering.
This way people who have never seen an anesthetized animal before gain trust and confidence in the work of the surgeons and the bond between owners and animals is strengthened.
Every animal was vaccinated against rabies in Las Galeras as well as at the other locations of this operative.
Soon the recovery fills up with animals…
Lunchtime; as always at clinics organized by Kim Beddall there was tasty food and enough beverages for everybody. 21b In the afternoon work continued at the same speed as in the morning.
A protruding haw gland had to be removed from this patient’s right eye.
Here the patient after the successful surgerty. 2 bitches were brought with pyometra and one that was pregnent with a single fetus.
10/13: The last day of the operative starts!
Claudia in a good mood…
Everybody is giving once more their best; Nadine is neutering a tom cat while behind her Helena and Felicia spay a bitch.
27b Felicia making herself sterile for the next surgery.
Claudia stitching up one of the last bitches.
Hier das Video Letzter Tag
The pavilion gets already taken down; the clinic is coming to an end…
And finally there comes…
…the magic number 500, often dreamt about but never reached so far, represented by a proud Rottweiler!
We want to say Thank you! to all who have contributed to achieve this great result: Claudia Bretthauer and her fantastic team; the animal welfare activists on location: Patricia Jakobs (Las Terrenas), Susanne Neef (El Limón) and Kim Beddall who didn’t just patronize the Las Galeras clinic but organized all transportation of the team and lent her equipment for the whole time of the operative ; all our faithful donors and particularly the Swiss foundation Tierbotschafter CH that is supporting us since 2017. Without their aid we could neither finance spay neuter operatives that size nor support the school and youth project on Barbados upon which we want to focus more strongly 2023.
Farewell photo on the beach the morning of October 14th.
The day after the team left is a cloudy day; nobody is on the beach except 2 beach dogs that will no longer reproduce. Helena Kovacova who stayed a bit longer writes: „It is so quier here without you guys…“
We are convinced: We will be back in Las Galeras!
On 11/23 Claudia Bretthauer returns already to the Dominican Republic; for the third time this year and this time to El Valle, for the last clinic of 2022!
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.