How to Neuter a 'Tater-Tot

Img_0015The following is a report from my colleague Wit Davis, who has just returned from the Caribbean helping with a Community Led Animal Welfare project in Dominica.

This isn't actually a "how to" manual for surgical sterilization on potato puffs but rather a story of how Tate ("Tater Tot" or "Little Man Tate") the dog helped make last week's spay-a-thon in Dominica a whole lot of fun...

IFAW, in conjunction with the Roseau City Council, has a Community Linked Animal Welfare (CLAW) project in Dominica.  One of the goals of the project is to decrease the overpopulation of dogs.  Our ground team has spent much of the past year literally knocking on doors in the most impoverished areas of Roseau asking people to spay and neuter their pets.  They have been greeted with such tremendous support that the local vets, despite their wonderful support, simply have not been able to sterilize them all.  That's why a team of IFAW staff and volunteers headed to the Caribbean to try and catch up on the back-log, and that's where we met Little Man Tate.

Inelle Laville, Project Coordinator for CLAW Dominica, was on her way to the clinic for the first day of the spay-a-thon last Monday when she saw Tate trotting down the street as if he were on a mission.  Seeing a stray dog wandering around Roseau is not unusual but seeing a stray dog the size of a small rat is!  When Inelle pulled over, Tate stopped as if he had been expecting the ride and willingly headed off to the clinic where he quickly became our spay-a-thon mascot.  While our small staff sterilized 86 animals, Tate was busy learning how to take the breathing tubes out of recovering animals (by playing what he must have thought was an easy game of tug-of-war), demonstrating his watch-dog prowess by squeaking (not barking) at passers-by, and doubling in size!  He was even up to a whopping 0.9 kg (about 2 pounds) by the time he was neutered at the end of the week.  He's now spending some quality time in a foster home while he continues to grow and while Inelle determines whether he should be adopted as a dog or a rat...

Even though we were on the island to focus on spay-neuter we did treat a few trauma patients.  One of those was Penny.  Penny had been missing for five days when her mom found her in very poor condition from a dog attack.  The dog had damaged her neck and throat and when our staff saw her, her prognosis was very poor.  But she turned out to be a fighter.  After a few days of fluids, medication, and old fashioned TLC Penny was not only well enough to have surgery to close part of the wounds, but even well enough to be spayed!  She came out of the operation with flying colors and was even feeling well enough to hiss at Tate when he walked by proving that she will likely always be afraid of dogs and that maybe Tate isn't a rat after all!

Thanks to a great team for a wonderful week in Dominica.  Eighty-six animals may not seem like a lot in some places, but in Roseau it should make a world of difference!

Comments: 3

9 years ago

There are people in Cuba helping the animals. Spay campaigns are being conducted.
Please visit my website and blog.

10 years ago

Thank you for your comment, Mary. I am sorry that what you saw in Cuba was so distressing. Sadly, stray dogs encounter these challenges in many places worldwide. IFAW's program in Dominica was developed not only to help the animals in Dominica, but to act as a template that we can replicate in other areas of need. So far it has been very successful in Dominica and we hope to apply it in other communities that have requested it as we refine the program and funding becomes available. At the moment, we do not have the resources to implement such a project in Cuba but you may be able to find groups who are working there by looking at Thank you for your concern for the stray dogs in Cuba and the Caribbean!

10 years ago

I have just returned from a holiday in Cuba and was very distressed by the stray dog population there and the condition of these starving animals. Having read your report on neutering in Dominica I wonder is anything similar possible in Cuba to help the situation there.

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