U.S. Ambassador Dinger Opens Successful Animal Clinic in Pohnpei

KOLONIA, Pohnpei (The Kaselehlie Press): April 9, 2002 - United States Ambassador to the FSM Larry Dinger opened the Remote Area Medical (RAM) veterinary clinic at the Pohnpei State Agriculture Building on February 13, 2002.

Over five clinic days on Pohnpei, the veterinarians treated a total of 124 dogs and cats, of which 88 were sterilized, and visited over 30 piggeries.

After an invocation by Adelino Lorens, Head of Agriculture for Pohnpei State and also deacon and pastor of St. Joseph's Church, Awak - and provider of the clinic sites - Ambassador Dinger welcomed the team of animal doctors to Pohnpei and expressed thanks to RAM for undertaking the project.

David Panuelo, Assistant Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and Podis Pedrus, Special Assistant to Governor Johnny David, provided additional opening remarks.

Mr. Pedrus, along with Jackson Phillip, Assistant Director for COM-FSM Cooperative Extension Service and Board member, presented team leader Dr. Jennifer Scarlett with a check for a $1,000 donation from the Pohnpei Soil and Water Conservation District Board.

Team members quickly started work as four-legged patients began to arrive.

The RAM veterinary team consisted of Dr. Jennifer Scarlett of San Francisco, California; Dr. Dave Edsall of Tucson, Arizona; Dr. Louisa Fiasco of Spartanburg, South Carolina; Dr. Jennifer Collins of Davis, California; and pig consultant Miller Foster of Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Over five working days at clinic sites in Kolonia and Madolenihmw, they treated 124 dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens, 88 of which were sterilized.

"We were amazed and encouraged by the public response," said a coordinator for the project. "We had more animals than we had hoped for."

Volunteer Mary Berman and her daughter Margaret were impressed by the doctors.

"Margaret and I were amazed at how hard they worked; they did not stop all day except to get a bit to eat."

Ms. Berman and Margaret were among the dozens of volunteer who made the clinic work. In particular, a group of volunteers from Nukuoro Atoll - Rick Leopold, Danny Leopold and Nelson Ezekias -- distinguished themselves by volunteering every day of the clinics.

Public interest was so great that the veterinarians were not able to sterilize all the dogs and cats requested.

"Those animals on the waiting list which were not sterilized this time will get priority next time when RAM returns," explained a coordinator. "Everyone hopes that that will be soon."

The RAM team also treated pigs at over thirty piggeries throughout all the municipalities.

Engly Ioanis and staff from the COM-FSM Cooperative Extension Service, along with Phil Giles and staff at the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Kiped Albert, Kadalino Lorens and staff of Pohnpei State Agriculture, coordinated the pig inspections.

Since requests from pig owners exceeded the time available, RAM donated pig vaccines and medications to the Cooperative Extension Service. The doctors trained extension agents in their use. "All the pig owners who asked will have their pigs seen," said Engly Ionais, Extension Agent. "It will take a little time, but we will get around to everyone who called. We are better off than we were before in terms of pig care on the island."

In addition to the clinics, the team gave an interview on radio station FM101 on the benefits of spaying and neutering, especially the benefits of sterilization in terms of public health and quality of life. They emphasized that these are simple procedures with minimal risks.

Dr. Scarlett also gave a lecture on pig care on February 18 at the COM-Pohnpei campus. Among the points she recommended:

  • Raise pigs in areas away from sources of water so as not to cause water pollution and spread leptospirosis;

  • Keep pens drier, scrape often, and wash only 1 or 2 times a day;

  • Feed pigs off the ground, several times a day, and regularly; and

  • Provide a regular source of drinking water by tying a bucket or pan to the pen to serve as a water bowl.

Sue Schadeck, a longtime Pohnpei resident, best summed up the project and the experience. "It's a wonderful thing to see people caring about their animals, and I hope that the vets come back soon."