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MVMA Project Samana

Named after the town in which it is based, Project Samana started as an outreach program of the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) and the MVMA International Committee to help the people and animals of the Dominican Republic, the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere.


MVMA Project Samana is a program of MVMA Charities, Inc., a 501(c)3 charitable organization.


In a remote area where medical resources are scarce, unwanted pets and genetically deficient work animals are both a burden and a source of disease. By neutering the animals and training local practitioners in basic care and first aid, we have been able to help the local people to help themselves.


This venture began in 1993 as ‘a couple of guys’ from the MVMA volunteering their time, knowledge, and supplies to provide necessary medical services to the animals of Samana. More than a decade later, Project Samana has grown into a twice-yearly expedition of veterinarians, veterinary technicians, students, translators, caring non-medical people, and even the occasional filmmaker.


Over the life of the project, our teams have spayed more than 2,500 dogs and cats and castrated several hundred stallions. We are educating the people of Samana on animal care, nutrition, basic first aid, and parasite control and tick infestation measures. Team Samana developed an advisory relationship to an ecotourism group that, at our recommendation, has formed a cooperative to sponsor seminars, keep records of horses we determine are too sick or thin to work, and arrange for medical care. We’ve convinced several farmers to start a mule breeding program, for mules are stronger, more resistant to disease, adapt well to the local climate and living conditions, and after they are gelded, seem very placid and work steadily for the rest of their lives. As other locals have seen the success of this program, it is catching on.


Team Samana has strengthened the human/animal bond throughout the area and given the animals better prospects for a healthier life. Equally important, Project Samana has deeply influenced the more than 100 veterinarians, technicians, and students who have made the journey, gotten back to the basics, and brought altruism back into their daily lives.


Our mission is this: to improve the health and lives of the animals and people of Samana and the surrounding area, and to provide training so that our intervention is welcome but not essential.


Our strategies include:

* Providing needed surgical and medical services to the animals of Samana
* Educating animal owners in the health, care, and proper use of work horses and mules

* Providing training in medical and surgical procedures to local veterinarians and students from Dominican schools

* Sponsoring students from Dominican schools to come to the U.S. to increase their education and heighten aspirations for all involved


We also seek to raise awareness among United States veterinary students about the conditions in Third World countries and to have them realize that they truly can make a difference in the well-being of animals and people in the world. Veterinary students from the U.S. who volunteer with Project Samana gain first-hand experience with problems plaguing animals of Third World countries, but also gives them an opportunity to be part of the solution. 


Project Samana looks to its future and to you


We are pleased with the progress that’s been made over the years: the horses are looking better now that they are receiving medical attention from Team Samana twice a year and follow-up care by local practitioners in between.


Project Samana will continue as long as there is a need. We must ensure that mules and horses receive the care they need and we must continue to address issues of relative size (a heavy tourist or overflowing cargo baskets on a small thin mule is still a common sight). As the tourist business grows so must the level of

care the animals receive. 


We will also continue to bring newly graduated veterinarians and technicians to Samana, rounding out their education. The new veterinarians and technicians love the opportunity the program provides and take home with them lessons that will make them better practitioners forever.


We thank the generous donors - individual and corporate - whose support we have received and greatly appreciate the dedication of the MVMA members, not to mention the scores of volunteers without whom none of this would be possible. We’re well on our way but we need your support. 


Join Team Samana: together we can continue to make a real, positive difference in the lives of the animals we all love.



To make a contribution, use our secure site, call the MVMA office at 508-460-9333, or send a check payable to "MVMA Charities" (write "MVMA Project Samana on the memo line) and mail it to MVMA, 163 Lakeside Ave., Marlborough, MA 01752


To find out more about the trip, which occurs in June and November, or for information about donating supplies and equipment, please contact the Project Samana Coordinator.