Samana Trip November 2019

Dr. Robert Labdon started Project Samana in 1992. This trip that veterinarians and technicians have made multiple times a year for the past 27 years has had an impressive impact on their community. The street dog population has decreased by 50% and the majority have been spayed and neutered. The incidence of trans venereal tumors has decreased from greater than 40% of the population to less than 2%. Project Samana’s equine work introduced the mule to this area to assist in agricultural work. And there has been a noticeable impact on the weight gain in horses. Project Samana has notably implemented animal welfare education in the schools and collaborated regularly in the training of local veterinarians.

Project Samana Volunteers November 2019 

Project Samana Volunteers November 2019

Our trip to Samana, Dominican Republic started a day early. We traveled to Santo Domingo on Saturday, November 2nd.  We stayed in the Colonial Zone at the Nicolas de Ovando. This area was vibrant and full of culture and history. Saturday evening we had dinner with Dr. Sara Genoa a veterinarian from Santo Domingo who teaches at the Veterinary Medicine College in Santo Domingo. We met Sarah to pick up some necessary supplies for our clinic. Our dinner piqued my interest in discussing the differences in education and hearing Sarah’s experience mentoring the Veterinarians of the Dominican Republic.  

The next morning we headed to the airport to meet our team. By early afternoon we had rented 4 vehicles and began the 3-hour drive to Samana. This trek is full of beauty, the most memorable being vast palm tree plantations, rice fields, and the windy trip through the tropical mountains.

Dr. Nord, Donna, and Lauren all seasoned Project Samana Volunteers headed to Samana a day early to set up our clinic in Las Pascualas, a small village about 30 minutes from our accommodations. Monday morning started a busy clinic. We performed over 10 hysterectomies on patients who were pregnant or suffering from a pyometra. These procedures often pose emotional difficulties for many professionals in our industry to perform. The difference to me is the impact we are able to have on an ever-growing un-wanted population and unhealthy pets. By the end of our first day, we had performed 45 surgeries.

We headed to the clinic on Tuesday, eager and prepared to meet the same number of surgeries as our first day. This day started smoothly and surprisingly we had less critical patients and only reached about 32 surgeries because the afternoon died down quickly. We treated a small puppy for a hit by a car accident. He needed a splint and we administered some steroid and pain medications. Our team felt like our location was secured later than normal and many from this community may not have known we were going to be working in this area.

On Wednesday many of our team enjoyed the day off exploring or relaxing in Samana. However, the Project Samana equine team prioritized performing a perineal urethrostomy on a male horse. This horse sustained trauma to his penis likely due to an aggressive breeding encounter. Dr. Celeste Grace and Dr. Joan Ayers performed to procedure using a large bull bander to constrict a large rubber band onto the penis and amputate the swollen and traumatized area. The perineal urethrostomy is then performed to allow the horse to freely urinate.

Dr. Susan Neary

Dr. Susan Neary, DVM performing a hysterectomy.

Our next two days of work were very similar to Tuesday. We performed surgeries into the mid-afternoon each day. We performed 138 surgeries on our trip. During our week Lauren Barbo, CVT and rescue passionate board member of Project Samana arranged for 5 dogs and 1 cat to return to Boston with us for adoption.

 Holly Harrington, CVT

Holly Harrington, CVT

The work that I have graciously been a part of is both rewarding and rejuvenating. For that week volunteers from all over the country come together to make a difference. For that time your resources are limited, sometimes lacking electricity, monitoring equipment, and the supplies we take for granted. The groups of people are never lacking in compassion and devotion. Being a part of these trips has shaped me into a more diverse and resourceful technician. The MVTA grant awarded me with means to travel to this beautiful place and be a part of Project Samana.

 Lauren Barbo, CVT

Lauren Barbo, CVT