It’s been a couple of months since my husband, John, and I returned from our trip to Ecuador, and I’m finally taking a bit of time to reflect on our trip. After a long and incredibly bumpy (gotta love flying into high elevation locations) trip to get to our destination, we settled into a simple but incredibly cozy and comfortable hotel in Otavalo. Our World Vets team was made up of about 15 people, including six veterinarians from the US and Canada, two licensed technicians, three veterinary students, and four assistants. These people were each incredible—what an awesome way to meet new people, and create a fine tuned spay/neuter clinic team in just a few days. We took a day to set up the clinic and explore the thriving town of Otavalo, which boasts a world renowned market-we all tried to think about how we could repack our suitcases to fit super soft alpaca fur blankets, scarves, brightly colored hammocks, and more!
Two days after arrival, we were ready for our first full day of clinic. We arrived in Tangurein, a 30 minute drive from Otavalo at about 8am to a long line of families, waiting outside with their dogs and cats. We started up right away, and by 8pm that night, we had performed 79 spays and neuters, one blood transfusion, a few doses of chemotherapy for pets that were found to have a type of sexually transmitted tumor called transmissible venereal tumor, a few other small surgical procedures, and a number of medical consults. Many of the dogs and cats were covered in fleas and ticks, so we were incredibly grateful to have some donated Nexgard, Simparica, Bravecto, and other preventatives.
We arrived back at our hotel at about 8pm to a delicious dinner and a wonderful warm fire-I think we were all in bed by 9:30pm though!
The second and third day of the clinic went similarly to the first, although we became an even more efficient team by the end, and finished 89 surgeries by 6pm on the last day! Every single one of our patients went home after their surgery, ready to be cuddled and coddled by their loving families.
The clinic was some of the most rewarding, exhausting, and at the same time energizing veterinary work that I’ve done, but it also helped me appreciate the incredible staff and clients that we have at Muddy Branch-we make a superb team!
After a week of volunteering, John and I spent three days in and around Quito. We summited two volcanoes, both above 15,000ft, and spent a day exploring Quito. The summits were incredibly exhilarating (or terrifying, depending on your perspective), and we were so very glad to have done them, but boy were we ready for a nap when we arrived home after a red eye flight! Luckily, I had planned well, and had a couple of days to rest and recuperate before returning to Muddy Branch on Monday. We are already working on planning our next volunteer trip, and hopefully some local volunteering in the meantime…stay tuned!
Written by Lisa Challberg, DVM, cVMA
Muddy Branch Veterinary Center
880 Muddy Branch Road
Gaithersburg, MD 20878