Sunday, March 4, 2007

Update on Vet Ventures in American Samoa

Dated: March 5, 2007

Our first week of the campaign went well! It was about the best "assembly line" spay neuter set up that I've seen on one of these trips. We have an incredibly strong group of volunteers. With a total of 6 anesthesia machines there are virtually no "MARTEEEEEEEE!!!! " or "SANDYYYYYY!!!!" hollers across the hut as animals decide to wake up on the table, only halfway through surgery. Blessed gas anesthesia. We're accomplishing about 50 spays and neuters per day. George and Duane and Sharon and Karen and Nicole are out on village visits, giving that extra little arm twist in the outskirts. The rest of us are stationed in the Tropical Medical Hut---where the critters come to us.

We've been in the news a couple times---you can probably find the 2 newspaper articles at

Jen and Duane fixed a broken femur. Jen and Julie casted a broken leg. Mostly a lot of desexings going on. A couple tumor removals. A heck of a lot of spays. There are way fewer big mamas than last year. It is quite evident that we made an impact with our first campaign last year--we are being presented with healthier animals than we were last year.

Jackie, you'll be glad to know that Sally the cat (now known as Mary Jane as Tiara apparently often changed their names) is doing well here at Sadie's by the Sea. Tom, the TVT dog that you did the "extreme vulvar makeover" on last year is doing great. Julie took pics for you.

11 of us just got home from Ofu, a small outer island. I hear the population is 289. It was just my speed. The airport is even smaller than the one in Aitutaki. There are 2 hotels on the island, lovely snorkelling, gorgeous little island, healthy reef, nice shell picking. We got rained upon a bit, but we all still had a great time. At the beach yesterday George found a tarp which Martee hung when it began to rain: Survivor Ofu. Except for the nice snorkelling it was a weekend of rest and reading and overindulgence. This nonprofit may have been my idea, but frankly at times I think I am the misfit of the crew. On Sat night when most of the crew was playing poker and drinking Vailima beer and Duane's cocktails in the hotel, I was having one of the nicest evenings I've had in months, just sitting on the beach, treasuring the joy of the South Pacific. It was perfect. Oh, I wished I had Twinkle with me, for there were lots of little sand crabs coming over to my towel to check me out. (Twink, one of my island kitties, loved chasing those crabs!) There was a distant roar of the ocean and the softer lapping of the waves at my feet, just enough light to see how beautiful the sea is.

The runway at Ofu is very short, so trips can be cancelled if the weather is inclement. We were supposed to go on Friday, but rain hit at the wrong time and didn't get to go til Sat morning. And, just like when flying to Independent Samoa, they weigh all the passengers. It was $150 round trip, and accomodations quite reasonable. At the airport today I briefly chatted with the owner of the other hotel (who clearly loves her dogs) about possibly getting Byron (who will be doing vet work the week after we leave) out there for a "village visit", swapping accomodation for vet work.

Good news: Pete Gurr, head of agriculture stopped by the Tropical Medical Hut last week. He told me that he has kept his promise not to euthanize any pets that have our tattoo (showing that they have been desexed). (He now has 3 dogs at his home that were desexed last year by us.) He renewed that promise to me this week.

:) Joi Sutton, DVM

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