Dogs, dogs and more dogs! They are EVERYWHERE in the Caribbean. Some people have them as pets, but on many of the islands, people treat dogs and cats more like wild animals. These critters prowl the streets looking for a hand out or can be found sleeping under cars to escape the heat of the sun. Sometimes they roam in packs, while others are loners. At any rate, you get my point. There are lots of animals in need of a home in the Caribbean.
Coming from America where we consider cats and dogs to be family, I’m an avid animal lover. No matter where we travel, I am always drawn to animals and they seem to seek me out as well. I can’t resist their sweet demeanors and affection. Dave often jokes that if we adopted all of the animals I ran into over the course of this trip, we’d have to change the name of our boat to Alli’s Ark. It’s true. I would take them all if I could. Seriously. With that said, you can imagine how excited I was when we got a chance to help some furry friends during our three week stint in Luperón.
After we were in Luperón a few days, I started to hear about a local organization called Dogs and Cats of the Dominican Republic. DCDR helps to spay, neuter and vaccinate the local cats and dogs keeping the feral population down. Not only is it free to locals who ask for their help, but volunteers also seek out stray dogs and cats to treat. It seems like an incredible undertaking, but there are monthly clinics, dozens of volunteers and veterinarians who make it all possible.
We had the luck of meeting Veronique on SV Wanderlust who is in charge of running the monthly vaccine clinics in the town square of Luperón. We got to talking one night at Wendy’s (the local cruising pub) and she mentioned they’d be holding a clinic in a few days time and always need people to help. I automatically volunteered Dave and I for the job.
On the day of, we saw about 70 dogs. Dave and I moved around to different stations, helping with a variety of tasks- checking in the pups and owners, filling out their vaccine cards, administering medication, helping to open up puppy mouths and hold their squirmy bodies so they could safely take their medication or have their nails clipped. The majority of the dogs were very friendly and easy to work with. We only had one squirrley little Chihuahua who nipped somebody.
I also must mention that in addition to the pups that were brought in by their owners, there were also a handful of ‘street dogs’ that just showed up for the monthly clinic. These pooches are on their own and have become accustomed to seeking treatment in the town square. How incredible is that? What intelligent animals they are! After four hours, we were finally done. We felt such a sense of accomplishment and were so happy to have spent a morning helping these sweet animals.
If you are looking to adopt a new fur baby or would like to donate to the cause, please check out the Dogs and Cats of the Dominican Republic website here or you can find the Luperón group on Facebook.