Spay Neuter Project in Samoa

Preface: I have had the honor of consulting for Emma Clifford and the Animal Balance team.   Emma is our first visiting blog author to write about their experiences, especially relating to dog capture and handling.  Many times, spay neuter organizations, with sincere intentions to reduce suffering, cause pain and injury for both dogs and people because of their struggles with capture and handling.  In contrast, Animal Balance thoroughly did their homework and worked with compassionate energy with each dog even when their field work got tough.   As we all learn in the field about our successes and challenges, it should be our goal to write, photograph, and film our experiences so that we can gather our knowledge and share it with others.  I am grateful to Emma for sharing their story.   My thanks to Paulina DeVelasco for her photos.     Mark

My name is Emma Clifford and I am the Director of Animal Balance, www.animalbalance.org.  We organize mobile high volume sterilization clinics for cats and dogs around the world. We focus on islands where the dogs and cats may pose a threat to native species, such as the Galapagos Islands, where the people cannot afford to sterilize their pets; Dominican Republic (DR); or where the dogs may pose a health risk, the Samoan Islands.

Animal Balance Team in Samoa

Approximately 25 international volunteer veterinarians, animal technicians, dog handlers and others who have a skill, or experience, in an area of animal protection, come together to form the Animal Balance teams. Our collective goal is to sterilize and treat the maximum number of cats and dogs in the time that they have on the island.  Clinics are built in discos, pizza restaurants, gyms, meeting halls, wherever we can. We work in very remote areas so sometimes we use the tail of the pick up truck as the surgery table. We can set up a clinic anywhere and sterilize animals en masse. Our standard of care and protocols are of the highest standard. We sterilize owned, free roaming to feral cats and dogs. Their label does not matter; we sterilize them all for free in the communities where we work.

We are a humane organization and believe in only employing kind methods in managing cat and dog populations.

Surgery on a Porch

Round up and kill is not an option that should be considered. Sustainable management strategies have to involve high volume sterilization, humane educations, vet to vet and tech to tech training programs and dog training classes, where appropriate.

We can sterilize 400 plus animals in a week. Each dog and cat is given internal and external parasite treatments. If they have other ailments we treat those to the best of our ability. Each dog is given a tattoo and sometimes a microchip, depending on where we are working. They also receive a new collar and leash and are encouraged to come to dog training classes. We tip the cat’s ear and quite often they receive new collars too, thanks to Pet Food Express, who donate  their old stock.

Capturing Dogs

The dogs on the Galapagos and DR, for the most part, do not need to be captured. With some patience the dogs tend to get within 4 feet and finally will allow Continue reading