Spay and Neuter clinics a success story for March
The last few weeks have been busy ones for the many people dedicated to the health and well being of our pet companions, the cats and dogs who share our homes and lives.
During the last week of March, clinics were held in Fagatogo and Leone which offered free spay and neutering, a practice which successfully eliminates the problems associated with unwanted, uncared for animals, cuts down on roaming packs, and helps cats and dogs live longer, healthier lives.
The clinics are part of an ongoing project which involves a coordinated effort between the local non profit animal care group, 'Alofa mo Meaola', the Dept. of Agriculture's Veterinarian, Dr. Brenda Smith, the Office of Samoan Affairs and the Governor's Task Force.
The village clinics held last week were also joined by a U.S. based organization named “Soul Dog”.
Soul Dog is a small, non-profit animal rescue organization founded with the mission to humanely control the pet overpopulation problem through focused and aggressive spay/neuter programs in underserved communities.
It is also their goal to partner with the communities where they work, in order to create sustainable change through education.
According to their website (Souldog.org), “We are currently a small group of committed volunteers making a difference in the life of one animal at a time.” It offers a quote which states, “What we do for ourselves dies with us; what we do for others and the world is immortal.”
Collectively, at the end of March, 280 animals were surgically sterilized (spayed or neutered) during the clinics. The original plan included bringing in another veterinarian with a team of three — also affiliated with Soul Dog — but their flight between Florida and Hawai’i was cancelled, and they were unable to make the Hawaiian Air flight to Pago.
According to Luana Scanlan of Alofa mo Meaola, the most successful clinics were held in Leone where their village liaison, Andra Samoa, effectively spread the word about their efforts and explained to her community exactly what spaying and neutering are — and why they are important to both the health of the animals and our environment.
Between the two Leone clinics, 128 animals were fixed over two days. In Fagatogo, 160 animals were spayed and neutered over three days time. A total of 27 animals were also given health check ups and more than 20 animals were rescued.
One even made it all the way back to Texas, adopted by one of the visiting technicians.
Only five animals were euthanized, and these were very ill, emaciated dogs.
Organizers had also planned a trip to Aunu'u for two days, but a fa’alavelave there caused the group to reschedule. Said Scanlan, “Our village liaison, Peter Toleva'a did an awesome job getting the word out and coordinating with us to schedule the logistics of moving 20 people and all of the supplies and equipment over there. We hope to eventually get to Aunu'u before May.”
To schedule a village clinic, residents must contact their pulenu'u and make the request. The pulenu'u then calls Dr. Brenda Smith at 699-9445 to schedule a date and discuss logistics. The pulenu'u is responsible for securing a venue that has power, water and a covered area; many villages make use of faleo’o or guest houses (fale tali malo) for these clinics.
She also noted that without the kind help of the pulenu’u, the clinics would not have been possible, and along with the other liaisons mentioned, she said Tinae So’osemea, the Fagatogo pulenu’u was very helpful with their work in the town area.
Dr. Smith also noted that they are very grateful for support from the American Samoa Humane Society, who donated money to purchase the dog traps, while Island Cargo Support and CSL made it possible for the dog traps to arrive here free of charge.