"Spaycation Summer School Session 1 participants pose for a photo after receiving certificates of appreciation at the Governor's Complex on July 11, 2019." (Left to right) Deanna Owens, Cyrus Luhr, Lauren Pavlock, Hilary Chan, Dr. Jessica Perpich, Manami Kawakita, Katie Woodruff, Faye Varias, Kara Agamaite, Claudia Lao, Dr. Sara Ford, Cecilia Lara, Samantha Mullen.
"Spaycation Summer School Session 1 participants pose for a photo after receiving certificates of appreciation at the Governor's Complex on July 11, 2019." (Left to right) Deanna Owens, Cyrus Luhr, Lauren Pavlock, Hilary Chan, Dr. Jessica Perpich, Manami Kawakita, Katie Woodruff, Faye Varias, Kara Agamaite, Claudia Lao, Dr. Sara Ford, Cecilia Lara, Samantha Mullen.

GAIN announces successful completion of Spaycation Summer School

by Samantha Mullen
Guam Animals in Need

Guam, September 9, 2019 – Recently, GAIN held its first satellite clinic involving visiting veterinarians and veterinary students who volunteered their time to provide accessible spay and neuter services for the island community. The program took place from July 2nd through July 26th at the Ordot Chalan Pago Community Center. A total of 162 animals were sterilized during the program. This is the story of how it all began...

In October of 2018, Guam Animals in Need (GAIN) received an email with a brilliant idea. The email came from Faye Varias, a Guam native currently attending her fourth year of veterinary school at Western University in Southern California. That email turned out to be the seed that sprouted into what became Guam’s first “Spaycation Summer School”. It was a dream come true.

Ms. Varias had attended a program in Ecuador in the summer of 2018 where veterinary students go on “spaycations” to improve their surgical skills while performing a number of spays and neuters for communities in need. The email Ms. Varias sent to GAIN suggested starting a similar program here on the island, and so they decided to make it happen.

“When I first approached GAIN with this concept, I thought to myself that if we had one doctor and a few students interested, I’d consider it a success. We had dozens of veterinary students sign up and several more veterinarians willing to step up and help. I am amazed at the amount of support this project has received and am so thankful for the hardworking people at GAIN for making this happen,” said Ms. Varias.

After months of logistics, fundraising, and many hours of preparation and hard work the dream finally became a reality. The result was “Spaycation Summer School,” a pilot program designed to help tackle the overpopulation of homeless animals while sharing our beautiful island with visitors from the states.

“This joint effort between GAIN and Western University veterinary students provides hands-on surgical training while providing the island with low-cost spay and neuter options and reducing the community’s stray and homeless animal population. It’s a win-win all around,” says Ms. Varias.

Two surgery teams visited Guam for Spaycation Summer School. Each team consisted of two veterinarian mentors and six veterinary students. Each group stayed for two weeks, spending much of their time spaying and neutering dogs and cats at the satellite clinic, and the rest of their time exploring and appreciating the island.

Ms. Varias made sure the visiting students and veterinarians got to see the best of Guam during their stay. She was proud to show them around her native island. They enjoyed pristine beaches, hiked amazing trails, and ate their way around the island trying the array of cuisine that Guam has to offer.

All of the students, veterinarians and GAIN Clinic staff received certification of appreciation from the Office of the Governor of Guam, presented to them by Acting Governor Josh Tenorio.

“The program was a great success because we were able to help so many families in such a short period of time,” says Samantha Mullen, GAIN’s Spay Neuter Island Pets (SNIP) Program Coordinator. “By sterilizing 162 animals, we prevented hundreds of unwanted or unexpected litters. We hope to be able to do this again and again!” Ms. Mullen continued.

“It is so heart-warming to know that when you put your mind to it, really anything is possible,” said Ms. Mullen. She continued, “To think, this wonderful program is now a reality because we believed in making it happen. It really all started with an email…”

“I’m amazed at the love and support the people of Guam have shown GAIN. This event wouldn’t have been possible without the support of such a strong community and all of the volunteers and staff at GAIN,” said Dr. Sara Ford, GAIN’s main volunteer veterinarian.

GAIN continues to hold periodic spay and neuter clinics at their Yigo location with the help of local and visiting volunteer veterinarians, and will continue to run their income-based spay/neuter voucher program to those in need.

To inquire about GAIN’s low-cost spay neuter program, please send your contact info to snip@guamanimals.org , or call the GAIN Animal Shelter at 653-4246 or the GAIN clinic at 653-6717. Spay and neuter services are also available at Animal Medical Clinic, Isla Veterinary Clinic, Marianas Vet Care, and Wise Owl Animal Hospital.

None of this would have been possible without the love and support from our advocates. Thanks to Mayor Jessy Gogue and everyone at the Ordot Chalan Pago Mayor’s Office, Triple J, Bank of Guam, Pay-Less Community Foundation, East West Rental Center, the Raulerson Trust, Humane Society International, IHP Medical Group, Guam Surgicenter, SPPC/Circle K/76, Freddy Varias, New Mariana’s Trench, Crystal Aguon, Coffee Slut, and various individual donors for making GAIN’s very first Spaycation Summer School happen.

To support GAIN’s ongoing efforts, you can visit https://guamanimals.org/pages/donate and make a one-time or recurring donation. All donations will go directly to the shelter and spay neuter program. We wouldn’t be able to do this without your support!

Founded in 1989, GAIN is a non-profit dedicated to improving the care of all animals on Guam by sheltering those in need, and through compassionate advocacy, expert education, and strong community connections.

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