A Street Dog Rescue in the Dominican Republic

A veterinarian technician’s story about why rescuing a stray dog named Rosie meant so much to her.

Dog rescue is a wonderful thing. By: HulmDesign

If you’re anything like me, you love a good rescue dog story. Few things will make me stop in my tracks when I’m scrolling through social media as much as a cute face with those heartwarming before and after photos.

In fact, the more I work in the field of animals and the more I learn about this world we live in, the more I realize how important rescue really is.

I know lots of people have great rescue stories. Still, I feel like the story of Rosie’s rescue is something really special.

International Help

Project Samana is a spay-and-neuter clinic that takes place every June and November in the Dominican Republic, right on the Bay of Samana.

I’m a veterinary technician, and one of the doctors I work for runs the program. Many of the technicians from our practice as well as other practices have gone to work at Project Samana before, but this was my first time.

Driving through the Dominican Republic, you can tell it’s not a country with a lot of means, and in certain places, there is poverty like I’d never seen before. However, you can also see signs of stability and growth that signify this small island nation is moving forward.

Our location overlooked the Bay of Samana, and it was one of the barest yet most beautiful working conditions I’ve ever experienced. The building was hot; there were windows but no air conditioning and no real lighting, so we worked by sunlight, and our day ended when the sun went down.

It was by far one of my greatest experiences working in the veterinary profession.

It was a humbling reminder of the power of the human-animal bond. People lined up with their cats and dogs to be spayed, neutered or have other various ailments treated, and they loved us. Wherever we went, people were so grateful for our work on the island with their pets.

Spay-and-neuter clinics can do a lot to help control stray dog populations. By: Ma_Rika

In Came Rosie

Before I left for my trip to the Dominican, many people asked if I were going to bring home a dog. I said, “Absolutely not.”

When the doctor I was working with picked me up at the airport, he told me he had already found a dog to take home himself. Less than 24 hours after arriving, he had encountered a group of puppies being sold on the side of the road. One of them had jumped up on his lap and tried to run up and across his shoulders.

In short, this vet was a goner. I really didn’t think that would be me, but I was wrong.

It was probably about halfway through the week working at the clinic when Rosie wandered in. It’s not clear if someone had dropped her off or if she’d just found her way there. She was this tiny little 3-pound, floppy-eared mutt with a rotund belly suggesting a major worm infection.

With no one to claim her, one of the ladies who works with the program but also lives on the island housed her until our week was up, and the doctor I was working with decided to take her home, too.

At this point, I still hadn’t decided she was mine, although it was in the back of my mind, I still hadn’t convinced myself I could take her. So she stayed for the week, and when it was time to go home, we traveled most of our trip together.


Rosie and her long legs at home. By: Kristene Carroll/Petful

A Change of Heart

When we arrived home, I spent one weekend away from her, and that entire weekend I missed her so much I realized wholeheartedly I had to take her home. As soon as I went into work on Monday, I told the doctor she was coming home with me.

Now Rosie is a tall, lanky dog with long legs that should be awkward but instead are graceful; she runs and leaps like a deer more than a dog. We have a large fenced backyard, and my other 2 dogs will lie on the couch for hours, but Rosie always has to be active.

She loves looking out the window and roaming the perimeter of the house. Is this an instinctual thing picked up from being born on the street? Or is this just her? I’m not really sure.

Project Samana helps deliver veterinary care to different types of animals in the Dominican Republic:

It’s been almost 5 years since that trip, and I look at her every day wondering what I would do without her. I’m not a huge believer in fate, but I can’t deny there’s something special about the way she, a puppy born on the street, walked into the arms of a girl from Massachusetts.

Don’t get me wrong: I love puppies, and I love certain breeds, but now knowing how many other Rosies are out there, I couldn’t not rescue. For now and forever, I will always rescue.

So here’s to all the rescue pets, the rescuers and the people who bring them home. Thank you for all you do.

Kristene Carroll, CVT

View posts by Kristene Carroll, CVT
Kristene Carroll, a certified veterinary technician, worked for 10 years in general practice and now works in specialty doing anesthesia and surgery. She lives in Massachusetts with her boyfriend and 3 dogs.

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