Vet transferred; Alofa Mo Meaola brings in ‘guest’ US certified vet
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Dr. Kenneth Lameta has been transferred to the Department of Agriculture’s (DOA) main office and his new role will be supervising the Livestock Unit personnel. This is according to a special order issued by DOA director Filifaatali Mike Fuiava, with a noted effective date of Oct. 23rd — last Wednesday.
(DOA oversees the local vet clinic, and hired Dr. Lameta from Samoa earlier this year in April, following the departure of Dr. Kristen Jensen).
Filifaatali’s order comes amidst outrage voiced publicly by local pet owners about — among other things — Lameta’s credentials, his work ethic, and his alleged misdiagnosis of pets — 9 out of 10 animals reportedly died immediately following surgery, and over 30 died after allegedly being taken in to see him.
“These changes will better serve the needs of small animals (dogs and cats),” wrote Filifaatali, who added that Lameta will be overseeing a staff of two, in the Livestock Unit.
Filifaatali also identified by name, the three employees who will be working with volunteer veterinarians, under a program coordinated by Alofa Mo Meaola, a non-profit organization. Alofa Mo Meaola co-founder Mona King announced early last week that US certified veterinarian, Dr. Melissa Shaw from Kauai, Hawai’i will be in American Samoa Oct. 28 - Nov. 11.
Copies of Filifa’atali’s order were forwarded to Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga, Lt. Governor Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga, Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale, and the chairperson of Alofa Mo Meaola.
Last week, Samoa News received a copy of the ‘confidential memorandum’ from Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale, to Filifaatali, recommending that Dr. Lameta be terminated or at minimum, “immediately reassign him to a position that does not involve the practice of veterinary medicine.”
According to Talauega, “Over the past five months, we have received voluminous complaints about Dr. Lameta’s conduct as a veterinarian. In July, we shared these concerns with the Governor’s Office and recommended termination.” (See Samoa News Oct. 24, 2019 edition for details).
Pet lovers have been up in arms, upon finding out that Lameta is not US certified and therefore, is not qualified to order or handle controlled drugs/medications needed by the animals. Further, horrific stories have been shared about the treatment of animals under his care.
Filifa’atali has stood by Lameta, despite the barrage of complaints and allegations from the public. He told KHJ radio in May that Lameta is fully qualified and while he may not be US trained and certified, his credentials are just as good.
He said the new vet is a graduate of the School of Agriculture at Alafua, Samoa and obtained his veterinary qualifications from a university in the Philippines. He has also taught at the School of Agriculture in Alafua.
At the time, Filifaatali acknowledged that there have been complaints about the new vet but he says it’s only because he is not US trained and certified, but he is qualified.
LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE
Alofa Mo Meaola co-founder Mona King announced early last week that US certified veterinarian, Dr. Melissa Shaw from Kauai, Hawai’i will be in American Samoa (Oct. 28 - Nov. 11) to perform surgeries, carry out health checks, provide spay and neuter services, and offer medications.
When contacted for clarification, King told Samoa News over the weekend that the services will be provided for a small charge, between $20- $40, not including the cost of medication(s).
Alofa Mo Meaola had to solicit much needed financial assistance to even bring Dr. Shaw, who will be arriving tonight. Appointments are a must, but emergency cases will be accepted. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 258-2269.
Perhaps the best news of all, is that Alofa Mo Meaola has been given the green light to use the DOA animal clinic facilities for the next 90 days.
The decision has been welcomed by many.
Samoa News understands that earlier this year, Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga approached the Alofa Mo Meaola organization about them possibly taking over the vet clinic. King submitted a proposal but was later told that the governor did not want to privatize the vet clinic — he couldn’t see putting it under anyone else but the Dept. of Agriculture.
For now, local pet lovers are hoping that the services available to their four-legged friends improve, and the government steps in to ensure that a qualified — and compassionate veterinarian is hired.