The name Project Samana comes from our first project in the Samana peninsula on the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere. In spite of the economic conditions there, pet ownership is common, and in fact, ownership of equids (horses, mules, and donkeys) can contribute to a family’s financial well being. Animal welfare, however, may be the last focus for many given the day to day struggles to earn a living.
Before we Arrived
Often weak, and filled with parasites, horses were traditionally used to haul loads of coconuts and other crops out of the mountains and, more recently, tourists back up the mountains and along the pristine beaches. Emaciated and disease-ridden dogs and cats roamed the streets, their population controlled by the indiscriminate use of strychnine bait tossed in the roads and on beaches. Dead animals littered the ditches. In 1992, a partnership between an American and a Dominican veterinarian began with the goal of helping the people by helping the animals: through education, veterinary treatment, necessary medicines, and a new equine breeding program
Since that time, the program has grown and evolved to meet the needs of the people and animals in the Samana region of the DR. We now have permanent local teams that are plugged into the small animal, agricultural and educational communities. Several times a year we organize teams of volunteer veterinarians, technicians, and veterinary students to travel to the Dominican Republic to provide veterinary care to the animals and education resources to students, veterinarians and animal owners. We provide training and support projects relating to animal husbandry, hoof care, veterinary medical and surgical education, and education about diseases that affect both animals and humans.