Surgery in South America – Reflections on our Veterinary Project – Los Peluditos de Ecuador 2019
Six months ago, I was asked to be a guest of the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management to help the eagleYcondor Foundation provide veterinary care to the dogs and cats of Otavalo. Knowing how much my mom and sister enjoyed their time last year, and the impact the trip left on them, I excitedly accepted the invitation, with great anticipation.
On February 24th, we landed in Quito and travelled to beautiful Otavalo with suitcases full of medical supplies and a therapeutic laser machine. After two days of sightseeing, the real work began. On the 27th, our surgical team of five veterinarians, four veterinary nurses and two ‘runners’ traveled to Cotacachi to team up with the veterinary staff of Amici Cannis Hospital de Animales. Although I am comfortable working in a high-paced veterinary teaching hospital, I didn’t know what to expect working in a high-volume spay/neuter clinic… especially in a foreign country!
Almost immediately, my nerves were gone. The staff of Amici Cannis welcomed us with open arms and open hearts. It
was clear we were all here for the same purpose- to provide the best medical care to the most animals during the next 3 days.
I was told my job would be working in the surgical prep area with fellow nurses, Darwin and Paul, and surgical resident, Alexandra, who are all staff members at Amici Cannis. Our prep area was equipped with the familiar supplies – catheters, clippers, surgical scrub, ET tubes. We were ready for the dogs to arrive. Soon, we could hear the trucks pulling up and the cacophony of yappy dog barks. Crates full of dogs were unloaded into the hospital. Each dog
was examined by our team intake veterinarians before they received their pre-surgical sedative and analgesic.
Once sleepy and calm, our ‘runners’ brought the pups upstairs to the surgical area where the dogs received an IV catheter, anesthetic induction, and were intubated, clipped and cleaned for surgery. Before the surgeons closed their incisions, each dog received a Nocita® injection, a long-acting local anesthetic, providing up to 3 days of incisional pain relief. Post-operatively, every dog was transported from the surgical table to the recovery room where they received Rabies and DAPP vaccines, along with therapeutic laser therapy to reduce swelling and pain, and to help speed up the healing process.
Most of the surgeries were on female dogs, many of whom were in heat, or had previous litters.. Over-population of dogs is a common problem in Ecuador and families were happy and willing to have their beloved dogs transported to Cotacachi for the sterilization procedure.
After 3 consecutive days at the clinic, we had surgically spayed or neutered over 140 dogs and cats. Every animal recovered exceptionally well, and they were back on the transport truck by the end of the day.
Our team was tired, and some members were even under the weather… but we all left the clinic each day with a sense of fulfillment and a happy heart.
There is no better feeling than to do what you love every single day, and I am one of the very fortunate to love my career. In Ecuador, with eagleYcondor and the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management, I was able to do what I love, alongside colleagues from around the world – all working together towards the same goal. Although we may not have shared the same first language, the Amici Cannis team shared the same passion. Every day started with smiles, hugs and lots of Spanish singing, and each day ended the same way. It is amazing how the well-being of animals can bring humanity together, creating a wonderful union of purpose.