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Consistent spay and neuter services are necessary to stabilize stray dog population

Local volunteer Sai holds a patient's mouth open
Efforts are not sustainable without the presence of a licensed veterinarian
Source: Coconut Mutts/ Kristen Jensen

Tafuna, AMERICAN SAMOA — Since veterinarian, Dr. Kristen Jensen, departed our territory in January, this community has watched a steady increase in the dog population due to the lack of spay and neuter services she provided for the last four years.

Pleas for help bombarded Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as local animal lovers desperately tried to recruit a U.S. licensed replacement.

Coconut Mutts, a 501c3 non-profit started in Pago Pago and relocated to Washington, is “dedicated to improving animal welfare in American Samoa”.  Seattle-based Park Ranger Kelsey Johnson and zoologist Jessica Sutherland established Coconut Mutts after their eventful stay on Tutuila.

Living with, rescuing, fostering and even helping some die a more peaceful death, these two compassionate women - who aren’t even Samoan - are dedicated to helping our local animals.

Between October and December of 2018, Coconut Mutts coordinated with the ASG Veterinary Clinic to do free spay and neutering in preparation for Dr. Jensen’s departure.

The “Healthy Pets, Healthy Island Program” completed over 300 surgeries in three months! 

Coconut Mutts was then awarded a grant from the Banfield Foundation to purchase medical supplies. Using donations, Coconut Mutts sponsored the travel of Dr. Brett Grover to American Samoa from June 11-24, 2019, bringing with him the critical supplies.

Housed by Adney and Tina Reid, Dr. Grover spent long hours at the clinic, supported daily by six volunteers and three ASG clinic staff.  Lunches were provided daily by animal loving donors in our community.

Visiting veterinarian Dr. Brett Grover and ASG veterinarian, Ken, at back. [photo: courtesy]

Here are the numbers:

171 Spay/Neuter surgeries

70 Health checks

7 other surgeries including three tumor removals and an amputation

2 euthanizations


Of the 250 procedures, the local veterinarian supported the effort by completing 43 surgeries.

Hundreds of unborn animals that would have become strays along our roadside were avoided.  Hundreds of dogs and cats that they would have then birthed were also avoided.  Spay and neuter is the only effective, sustainable method of humanely managing our animal population.

ASG veterinary clinic worker James Fuiava waiting with a patient, in line for a health check. [photo: courtesy]

The Humane Society International estimates that there are at least 10,000 ‘street dogs’ on Tutuila.  While major improvements in animal lives and stabilizing of the population size were made during the tenures of Dr. Brenda Smith and Dr. Kristen Jensen, it is not sustainable without the presence of a licensed veterinarian.

Please visit the Coconut Mutt’s website at and their Facebook page for more ways to donate towards helping them help us!  We hope Dr. Grover returns again this year! Fa’afetai tele lava Doc!