Ryan and I joined the family in Punta Cana again this year and I reached out to Sylvia Mendez of Rescatame to see how we could help some of the animals in need in the area. I had asked for donations before leaving Ottawa and was able to bring a large bag full of collars, leashes, flea & tick and deworming meds. Sylvia picked us up on Saturday morning and the first guests to greet us in the car were 3 puppies. They were very good and didn't squirm much in the back seat - they would be one of the first patients of the Spay & Neuter clinic that was being hosted that weekend.
We arrive in an area of Bavaro where we quickly got out and started to help set up. This included pop up tents, tables, chairs, assembling dog crates and moving equipment around. Animals and their humans started to show up, some are pets and some are community dogs. It's incredible to watch local rescues work with local people and their local dog community. Although having dogs adopted and moved abroad is a great opportunity for that particular dog, it will never help stabilize the overall island population. You can't adopt out the problem. However, what Rescatame does is engage and education, young and old, Dominicans on how to help take care of their dog, provide assistance in medical care and food. There was a little boy who had a young puppy, too young to sterilize but he was there for something else. He showed Sylvia that his dog had some fleas and he was pulling them off. She was able to give him some shampoo for treatment so that he could take it home and treat the pup.
I had brought a bag of leashes and collars, was able to hand some out to the kids. It was really heartening to see their eyes light up and how PROUD they were to put these news items on their dogs. Some of the children show up with a piece of string around the neck and one child even had a small chain. The moment he got the collar and leash he put the chain away. I was a bit taken aback and then realized, some of these people have NOTHING. Instead of pointing out to them how 'awful' it is to have a chain for a collar/leash, it's far more useful to SHOW them better options. I would argue that when those options are presented .. will gladly accept and this is an opportunity to engage and educate.
These clinics are put on for free by a vet and her team, Pets Breeding Control. They have busy jobs during the week and donate their time and skills on weekends to help reduce the pet population in various communities. The supplies still have a cost so Rescatame does fundraising in order to get everything that is needed for the clinic. Once the funds are collected, they reach out to the team and set up much needed locations.