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Veterinarian Technician May 2013 (Vol 34, No 5)

Guest Editorial: World Vets: Not Just an Ordinary Day at the Office

by Debbie Bauer, RVT

    As a registered veterinary technician, I had a fabulous opportunity to supervise and teach with the Rural Area Veterinary Services division of the Humane Society of the United States throughout the United States for nearly 5 years. However, volunteering abroad had always been on my “bucket” list, so in May 2012, I jumped at the chance to be a part of the first session of the International Veterinary Medicine (IVM) Program hosted by World Vets in Granada, Nicaragua. My experience was more incredible than I could have ever imagined. World Vets proved to be an outstanding, professional organization that tirelessly supports animals in need around the world and has exceptional instructors who assist participating veterinary and technician students.

    World Vets

    The World Vets training center in Granada, Nicaragua.

    Overview

    World Vets is a nonprofit organization that was founded by Cathy King, DVM, in 2006 to develop, implement, and manage international veterinary and disaster relief programs. World Vets, with support from the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, has served in more than 36 countries on six continents to help animals and educate people, having a positive effect on countless communities. The organization improves animal welfare, helps prevent the spread of disease, and improves livestock operations in severely indigent areas around the world. World Vets has recognized the One Health concept, acknowledging that the health of humans, animals, and their ecosystems are very closely linked. The organization has improved the lives of thousands of animals and people by providing free veterinary care through a dedicated volunteer force of over 3600 individuals, including veterinarians, licensed technicians, assistants, veterinary and technician students, and nonveterinary volunteers who simply want to help.

    The International Veterinary Medicine Program

    World Vets has predominantly focused on providing high-volume neutering/spaying/vaccination clinics; however, about 2.5 years ago, it decided to establish a permanent training center in which veterinary and technician students from the United States and Latin America could be trained in a slower-paced clinic setting. The result was the IVM Program in Granada, Nicaragua, which is about 1 hour from the capital, Managua. The facility is equipped with modern amenities such as gas anesthesia, central oxygen, pulse oximeters, fluid pumps, and assorted pharmaceuticals.

    During May through August 2012, the IVM Program had ten 11-day sessions in which it provided free veterinary care to more than 3100 animals. The procedures included neutering/spaying, eye enucleation, equine castration, and orthopedic procedures. In addition, the dedicated IVM staff (consisting of US citizens and Nicaraguans) and volunteers provided consultation and treatment for over 1000 veterinary cases. IVM participants had the opportunity to assist with surgery, medical cases, and various field operations and had a fair amount of free time to enjoy the Nicaraguan culture.

    Conclusion

    I’ve become a World Vets “junkie,” as I enjoyed another IVM training session in December 2012 and recently returned from a high-volume trip in Otavalo, Ecuador, where the World Vets team spayed/neutered a total of 229 dogs and cats and had plenty of free time to visit markets, volcanos, and the equator. I will spend 7 weeks in Nicaragua this summer, as I am committed to World Vets and its outstanding IVM Program.

    I encourage anyone in the veterinary profession to participate in a World Vets expedition. You won’t be disappointed. Along with soaking up world culture, you will learn about new ideas and techniques in the veterinary field and help animals and people in need.

    World Vets

    Junior and I (in Granada, Nicaragua) while he waits to take his dog, Estrella, home after she was spayed.

    NEXT: Inside Behavior: Puppy Socialization: More Than Just Exposure

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