Dr. Bret Grover is an amazing vet. He’s also an amazing human being. The doctor recently volunteered his time to travel to American Samoa as part of our Volunteer Veterinarian Program. Read more for a personal account of his experience.
By Dr. Bret Grover:
My time in American Samoa felt like a whirlwind. Everything seemed to just fall into place from the time I heard about the opportunity to actually being there and doing the work. I have always wanted to do something like this and I was so happy to be able to serve the polynesian people. When I was waiting in Hawaii to get on the plane, seeing all the Samoans around me, and worried about how to get off on the right foot with the people in Samoa. Two things my Tahitian wife had said to me came to mind, one: be yourself that is what has got you where you are and two: don’t worry you are brown on the inside.
That is exactly how I approached my time and the people with whom I would be working with. I just tried to be myself and work to make the time enjoyable. I feel like it was a success as well with over 170 spays and neuters performed, almost 10 additional surgeries done, and over 60 health checks done in 8 days. The days were long usually 10-11 hours, and while I missed most of the sunsets I felt accomplished at the end of the day. The conditions at the clinic were not ideal, space is limited, equipment is older or non existent, a lot of expired drugs, etc. what made the difference was the people. The staff was gracious, hard working, and trained as well as can be expected without formal training. The volunteers were plentiful, happy to help and a great benefit. What was a little unexpected was how much the people love their pets. I knew they have a different attitude towards their pets in Samoa but at least from the people that came to the clinic it was obvious that they love their pets more than I had expected. I was so happy to help them and see the smiles on their faces helping them load up their pets.
I am glad to have helped in Samoa, I can also now see that the help needs to be continual. I am looking at ways that I will be able to continue to help there. I found the experience rewarding and exactly what I wanted to be doing. I felt like I was making a difference on a larger scale. Here I feel like I make a difference in the individual lives of pets and their owners. There, it felt like making a difference in the community as well as the individuals.