Our Community Outreach Program is the cornerstone of everything Dogs and Cats of the Dominican Republic does. With this program, volunteers head out every month into defined areas and visit all the animals they can in that area and provide them with preventive medications. These monthly medicines treat the animals for all the frequently seen parasites in the D.R. (fleas, ticks, worms) and keep the animals healthy so that bigger health issues don't develop. On these visits, further treatments might be given for additional skin issues such as mange. Other minor health concerns may also be treated, but if the dog or cat is having a major issue our volunteers will bring them in to a local vet for more advanced treatments.
Through our Community Outreach Program we have seen a marked increase in the health of the animals in our target areas as well as a significant decrease in dogs and cats with severe health issues. Because of the healthier animals, we have also noticed a change in the attitudes of the Dominican and Haitian people in regards to their pets. With no more fleas, they are much more likely to pet or touch their animals or allow them into their houses. With fewer extremely sick animals the locals tend to look more favorably on the overall animal population in their villages. An increase in health of the animals has led to an improvement in the health of the people as well as a marked change in the their attitudes towards animals.
We also use our Community Outreach Program to improve the effectiveness of our Spay & Neuter Initiative. By taking animals from our outreach areas to be spayed or neutered, we know they will be healthier than the general population and thus more likely to do well both during and after surgery. Also, because our volunteers follow up with these animals every month, we are confident that more of the animals we fix will survive, rather than just randomly taking animals off the street and then returning them to that dangerous environment.
Besides walking through the villages to perform our Community Outreach, volunteers also hold parasite clinics at a central location where animal owners can bring in their pets to be treated as well as to ask our experienced volunteers questions regarding their pets.