by Meredith Ayan, Executive Director
Last week I had the privilege of spending a day with our partners, Unidad de Proteccion Animal in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Dr. Marilyn Lois and Samantha Ontiveros are the women behind this incredible sanctuary. They have dedicated their lives to improving the welfare of animals not only in their city of Santo Domingo but the entire country of the Dominican Republic.
Our day began at 8am bringing a dog that had just been rescued to be seen by a local vet’s office for a severe case of mange. Then, it was on to pick up antibiotics to treat more animals at the sanctuary. We drove out of the city, past a military base onto a long dirt road and up the side of a small mountain. When we arrived at the sanctuary gates two resident mules, and a blind donkey greeted us. The blind donkey had recently been found in a shallow well, starving, with no way out. As soon as they were alerted to his situation they drove to the location and lifted him out, not a moment too soon. He will recover at their sanctuary and live his life without fear of finding himself in danger at the hands of humans again.
Beyond the sanctuary gates, 200 dogs and their caretakers enthusiastically greeted us. Every dog jumped, wagged and wiggled as Dr. Lois and Samantha walked me through the grounds. They knew every dog’s name and told me many stories of how each came to live at the sanctuary. While most dogs in their care are available for adoption, many will never leave, unwanted by society because of special needs, missing limbs or just passed over. They are the lucky ones that have access to medical care, food, water and the love of the humans that saved them.
After soaking up the sweet affections of the dogs at the sanctuary, I was invited to travel down the road to another shelter and sanctuary for dogs and cats called Ghetto to Garden. Thomas, the founder of Ghetto to Garden, and his team also take in special needs dogs and cats that would not survive on their own as strays. There, I met Lolo, a Chihuahua who likes to be held in your arms and rocked to sleep under the warm rays of sunshine. Lolo will be adopted out soon to a loving home where he will have a bed to call his own. He has so much love to give.
Our last stop of the day was at Dr. Lois’ office where we met a shipment of SPCAI’s veterinary supply aid coming in that day. The supplies arrived on a large pallet and included antibiotics, sterile surgical supplies, glucosamine, and more. The items will help both these sanctuaries as they provide spay and neuters, general medical treatment and emergency care to animals at their sanctuaries and throughout the local community. In addition to the donation of veterinary supplies, SPCAI gave them a financial grant that will fund other items necessary that will help them care for their animals and beyond.
This was just one day I spent with our wonderful partners in the Dominican Republic. Their hard work continues 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Without these incredible people, many animals would have nothing but a hard, short life on the streets. SPCA International is proud to support their life-saving efforts.