Our wonderful technician Andria spent her recent vacation volunteering at Veterinary clinics in Central America. Check out more pictures and read her account of her amazing experience:
Having just returned from a hugely rewarding volunteering trip to Central America, I’m excited to share my experience there with you all. I was lucky enough to spend six days working in rural Costa Rica and Nicaragua as part of a 5 member veterinary volunteer team. Our mission focused mainly on delivering preventive care, providing vaccinations and deworming for local community pets who otherwise wouldn’t have access, though we also treated a fair number of sick patients, and provided spay/neuter services, helping to control the dog and cat population in the communities.
In rural Central American communities such as those I visited, not only is there a huge stray dog and cat problem, most of the owned pets are in desperate need of veterinary care. Many are malnourished and anemic from flea and internal parasite infestations. Tick-borne diseases such as ehrlichia are prevalent and can be life threatening if undiagnosed and untreated.
Our team with worked wonderful Costa Rican and Nicaraguan veterinarians to set up bare-bones in clinics in community school classrooms and churches. Using mostly donated supplies we treated many internal and external parasite infestations, treated fungal and bacterial infections, and vaccinated every pet against Rabies. Over six days in 3 separate clinics, we were also able to spay and neuter almost a hundred dogs and cats, and provide life-saving surgery for three dogs who came to us in terrible condition.
While it was sad to see the state of so many of these pets, it was extremely rewarding to be able to help improve the quality of their lives, and educate their owners on issues such as nutrition and parasite prevention. Many of the locals waited in line for sometimes up to four hours to have their dog or cat examined, vaccinated and dewormed : it was obvious that they care deeply about their pets and want to do the best possible. Lack of education, lack of access to regular veterinary care, and lack of finances are obviously huge road blocks. Six days working in such a basic clinic environment also made me SO thankful for all the wonderful equipment, supplies and resources I use every day at work: x-rays, microscopes, a diverse pharmacy, access to laboratory specialists, IV fluid pumps, and so much more. Our pets are lucky indeed.
I had an incredible time giving service to the cats and dogs of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and there is definitely more international veterinary volunteering in my future – I can’t wait for my next journey.
–Written by Andria G., Registered Veterinary Technician at Blue Cross Animal Hospital.