Samana – Day 1

by Dr. Jay Merriam

As we begin working day 1, year 20 it is a sudden reminder that “you’re not in Kansas anymore” or Massachusetts or wherever!  We are there with 8 vets (5 SA ,3 Equine) and 8 spouses, students and techs and away we go! We are off to the amazing world of working equids as seen in this  little corner of the Dominican Republic where tourism and coconuts compete for the working efforts they provide. We are directed by our local organizers representing an animal rescue group at does spay neuter and equine welfare.  Today we were faced with 2 animals with life threatening problems that are due to human aggression and cruelty in one case and well intentioned application of benign neglect and inadequate treatment.  The end result is that we were presented with 2 animals which needed euthanasia on humane grounds and which, given cultural ideas, wouldn’t get it.

The little old mule with his ears cut off by an angry owner and who also fell while loaded with gravel filled baskets has a ruptured medial collateral ligament of the fetlock, a joint infection and probably a P1 fracture. The grey criollo gelding with osteomyelitis, lymphangitis and a giant granuloma has been losing weight and appetite in spite of a recent aggressive treatment. Both will be euthanized tomorrow. But only after we presented our findings to the rescuers, and they conferred with the owners.  Culturally , this is a difficult situation here because owners will not pay for euthanasia , or allow it because they prefer to “let nature or God” sort it out. The grey was turned out by a well meaning rescuer 6 months ago, and the resulting situation is only the worse because of it.

This is a common situation in the working equids world and far different from the common “euthanasia ceremonies ” I attend at my practice, often accompanied by music , candles and flowers.  And it’s something we all must face head on.  We also are limited by unavailablty of controlled substances that we take for granted.  We must use sedation, ketamine and potassium chloride.  There is no way to easily dig a suitable hole in a rocky,coral up thrust generic viagra soil and we don’t want to pollute the groundwater.  Guns are also unavailable so a well placed bullet is not an option. The rest of the day was routine, we gelded a dozen horses and mules and looked at many more!  Tomorrow we have an umbilical hernia to be banded (elastrated) a group of 10 to be gelded and 60 more to be seen. The “team” has come together better and faster than any in recent memory.  Dr. Steve O’Grady and Celeste Grace are pros and teach as they work!  And it’s only day one!


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