« NAVLE Survey--How to Study | Main | Calf in Sand »

Honduras Trip

By: Kimby Lo

UC Davis, Class of 2012

Last June I embarked on a 10-day trip to Honduras with a missionary organization called VetMerge.  The town of La Villa de San Antonio was small, and definitely a place of great need.  The closest veterinarian lives about 15 miles away in a city called Comayagua.  Although this doesn’t sound too far, it is an unrealistic option for many, and most families can not afford trips to the vet.  The trip was a mix of many animals.  We made numerous ranch calls to deworm and give selenium injections to sheep, goats, and cattle.  A lot of the farmers we met encountered many of the same issues with their livestock, including abortions, retained placentas, decreased milk production, and mastitis.  On one of the last days, we held an educational seminar for them addressing these issues and ways to prevent them.   For me, the very hands on experience of working on the farms was rewarding, and I plan to take more large animal electives than I had intended to in the future.  The smaller animals needed help just as much.  Every dog we came across was covered in fleas and ticks.  People also brought us their cats, birds, and rabbits.  One family even showed up to our small animal clinic with three piglets in a bag.  I assisted with one spay and one neuter while we were down there.  All the people were very grateful.  Lastly, one day was dedicated to a children’s programs.  In the morning, we went to one of the schools and had “bring your pet to school day.”  Kids showed up with ducks, rabbits, turtles, dogs, one horse, and a lamb.  We had 3 stations: one on fleas where they learned about them and were able to see one under a microscope, one on how to take good care of their pets, and one on what we do during our physical exams and what a sick animal looks like.  In the afternoon, we had another program that all the children in the town were invited to attend.  The last couple of days were spent in another city (7 hours away) with a long-term missionary veterinarian living in Honduras to see his life there.  Overall, the trip was great.  Honduras is a beautiful country and the people were very welcoming.

The trip was not without challenges, though.  I was glad to come home to take a real shower.  We had cold-water bucket showers there, and the flow of semi-clean water wasn't even always available.  My hands were pretty dry from all the hand sanitizer we were using.  Being the wet season, we also had our fair share of getting completely drenched while out on ranch calls and pesky mosquito bites.  When it rains, it pours.  Our team survived a bout of food poisoning too- I guess you could say we are all very close now.  Another challenge, which is not unique to Honduras, was obtaining patient histories.  We were told that one down cow had been bitten by a snake and they even showed us where the bite had occurred.  After some discussion, it was decided that wasn't the cow who had been bitten at all, and they had no idea why he was down.  On another farm, when we asked if there were specific problems we could help address that day, the woman informed us about a goat with mastitis and one that had been bitten by a dog.  After some more questioning, it was determined that these goats were one in the same, and the dog bite had been 5 years ago!

In all, it made for a memorable experience.  I left with a good sense of accomplishment, but also the feeling that there is still a lot of work to be done.  I hope to return to Honduras some day in the future.  

EmailEmail Article to Friend