Dr. Kristen runs the veterinarian clinic that serves the entire territory of American Samoa. No hot water. Inadequate sewage. Island politics. At times it seems like everything from weather to people are against the clinic and its patients. Here is her description of some of the challenges the team faces serving American Samoa.
The veterinary clinic functions with one full time veterinarian, and a staff of four people. We operate under the umbrella of the American Samoa Department of Agriculture (DOA). Our responsibilities include providing preventive and medical care to the animals (dogs, cats, pigs, chickens, wildlife) of American Samoa.
We are a participant in the Stray Dog Task Force, that seeks to reduce the large population of free roaming dogs on the island. Our goals include aggressive spay/neuter of pet and free roaming dogs and cats, and removal of chronically ill or injured animals from the streets either by treating and adopting the animals or humane euthanasia in some cases.
Additionally, we are responsible for trapping and removing animals from public lands (government property, parks, schools, hospital, etc); handling bite cases in cooperation with the Department of Public Safety, and assisting farmers with animal related problems.
Our clinic is very basic, with minimal equipment, and no hot water. A dog kennel with 10 cages was recently constructed, but unfortunately, was built with no adequate drainage or collection for sewage. We have one small pickup truck for transporting animals, which is frequently not running and cannot climb any major hills or passes.