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“ASHS Letter of Support to Re-open DoA’s Vet Services Clinic”

Dear Editor,

Did you know that one female dog and one male dog and their offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in 6 years? The solution to the problem of pet overpopulation is for you to spay or neuter your dog.

It was with great disappointment that the American Samoa Humane Society (ASHS) learned that the doors to the Department of Agriculture (DoA) veterinary services clinic have closed, even if temporarily.

ASHS has had a wonderful working relationship with DoA in its care for small animals, including hosting spaying and neutering clinics. The importance of this service for the people of American Samoa and their pets cannot be overstated, particularly in light of recent events involving extermination of dogs who roam the streets.

If you would like to see the DOA veterinary services clinic reopen, please write to the Governor and your Fono representative and request that they do everything in their power to ensure that DoA is able to hire a veterinarian quickly, and can obtain medication and supplies for surgeries so that they can reopen the doors to their clinic.

Below are a few stories from local residents to highlight just how highly they valued the DoA veterinary services clinic.

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In my last 15 year residence on Tutuila, I cannot count the times that I have used the services of the DoA Vet Clinic. Sometimes to diagnose a sick animal and get medicine or to treat a broken animal, but many many times for the wonderful spay/neuter service. How many cats and dogs has my family given a home to and enjoyed without the fear of them getting pregnant and adding to the overcrowding of cats and dogs on the island?

I strongly support decision makers to reconsider closing the clinic. May I please humbly request that this important service to the community be continued?

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What about shots that your pets are supposed to get, if you want to take them off island? I believe strongly that we should treat living things with respect, especially animals, since they can't take care of themselves. Please take this letter as my measure of public support for keeping the DoA Vet Clinic open, or bringing in an off-island vet tech - whatever it takes!

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I took my cat to get spayed over 5 years ago, it all worked perfectly. My neighbor feels for the dogs and feeds them, and has had three litters in the last year or so, and keeps trying to get them fixed but can't. I think of the article documenting that the most common injury taken to the hospital emergency room is dog bite. I got bit the other day. The hospital runs a deficit and at some point will have to turn people away because they can't afford to treat them (they already cancelled off-island referrals), which they wouldn't have to do if there were fewer dog bites using up their resources.  People will suffer because no one wants to fix the dog problem.

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I have had taken a total of 5 female dogs spayed at the vet clinic. Although they were not spayed by a vet, they all came out of the surgery fine. The vet clinic will be sorely missed as it has provided a real service to our island community in their help in controlling the dog population.

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Dog bites and roaming dogs are also a barrier to exercising to many people on the island. People, esp. kids, are not free to walk, bike, or just be out and roam around themselves in many villages due to the impending possibility of being attacked by dogs. So, this leads to unhealthy people who cannot outrun/out-bike the dogs who are trying to bite them, thus leading to more dog bites and overtaxing of the hospital services. It's a shameful cycle that affect so many people here on the island. I'm saddened to hear about the closure of the only vet office on island, such a shame. Where are Animal Control Services when you need them?

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I'm saddened to learn of the closure of the DoA vet clinic. This is a serious set-back to maintaining a healthy animal population here in American Samoa.

Recently, my sweet girl dog (spayed, of course, at DoA) sustained a small puncture wound, probably in a scuffle with the neighborhood dogs. It healed so quickly that I barely noticed it... until Molly's leg suddenly swelled up twice its normal size, becoming tender and hot to the touch. Realizing the wound must have gotten infected, I tried to open and drain it at home, only to discover the infection was deep within her leg.

If I could not get help fast, I feared Molly would lose the leg and possibly her life. The next morning I took her to the DoA vet clinic in Tafuna where the courteous, helpful staff saved the day. They examined Molly, cleaned the affected area, performed minor surgery under anesthesia to reopen and thoroughly drain the abscessed wound, then gave her post-op antibiotics. They also gave me additional antibiotics to keep the infection from returning.

Miss Molly made a full recovery, thanks to the DoA vet clinic. The modest fee for the procedure and the medicines was very reasonable — $40. The peace of mind of knowing your sick or injured furry friend can be restored to health — Priceless.

We must speak out and let our elected officials know how important this service is to the Territory!

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As Lion's Park residents (where the dog population is enormous), the DoA clinic was extremely important to my wife and I. We've had several dogs from our street fixed there, and we've had one receive treatment for a dangerous (and ugly) tumor. Our standard of living on the island over the last two years would have been lower without the clinic: we'd have had unwanted puppies to deal with, multiple dogs in heat (really disruptive to a good night's sleep), and sick/injured/dead dogs to deal with on our own without training or medication (which is inhumane and, frankly, disgusting). Obviously, managing the dogs on our street and keeping them healthy is impossible now without dedicated veterinary services. 

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I am a government employee that lives in Lions Park.  I feel very up close and personal to the dog problem as so many stray dogs live and breed in my neighborhood. I have seen several people and animals be attacked by vicious dogs that have no owner. Thanks to the DOA clinic I have been able to take several dogs from my neighborhood in to get spayed or neutered.  Without this service there would be even more unwanted stray dogs roaming the streets and harassing adults and children. Without a vet clinic American Samoa will be unable to handle the vicious and unwanted dog problem.

As American Samoa increases its efforts to increase tourism it should equally increase its efforts to control the wild dog population. Tourists will not feel comfortable walking around streets where dogs are a few days away from death, or puppies are crying in a ditch with no one to take care of them. These are things I see on a weekly basis and must be addressed.

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As always, ASHS strongly supports the continuance of spay and neuter services - for your health, the health of your pets, and for the people of American Samoa.  If you are interested in volunteering with ASHS, please email ashumanesociety@yahoo.com.



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