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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

Students Get Great Hands-On Experience In Honduras

September 29th, 2016
Third year student Fred Hisaw makes friends with a Roaton native on his service trip to Honduras.

Third year student Fred Hisaw learns about the local Capuchin monkeys on his service trip to Honduras.

Roatan is a stunningly beautiful island off the coast of Honduras. It’s a popular tourist destination, but most of the local population lives in poverty, and the island has a serious stray dog problem. In September, John Maddigan and Dr. Sheri Morris, owners of Willamette Valley Animal Hospital (WVAH), led a service trip to Roatan that included five OSU students and three WVAH staff.

The need for veterinary care in Roatan is so great, the team treated their first patient in the airport parking lot, a dog with Cushings Disease. The airport is a major hang-out spot for Roatan’s large population of stray dogs because kind-hearted tourists feed them there. This was a surprise for OSU student Fred Hisaw (Class of 2018). “As touristy as Roatan is, I had thought that the animals (at least in the tourist-rich areas) would be relatively well cared for, with few strays.”

Local pets also lack veterinary care. On the first night in their accommodations, the Oregon team heard a dog crying and upon investigation, discovered a dog in a neighbor’s garage that had been suffering for days with an extremely painful ear condition. WVAH staff performed a thorough ear cleaning and applied medication and antibiotics. Maddigan messaged: “The owner has since reported our patient hasn’t cried out once. We are treating him daily and hope to have his condition resolved before we depart; so far, so good.”

Dr. Sheri Morris worked in a makeshift surgery with assistance from OSU students.

Dr. Sheri Morris worked in a makeshift surgery with assistance from OSU students.

Day one in the clinic included nine surgeries, ten medicine cases, many vaccinations, and a ton of flea and tick treatments. It was all good experience for Hisaw. “This trip helped me to fine-tune my physical exam skills as every animal that came in got a thorough exam.  There were also numerous opportunities to scrub in and help with surgeries, as either primary or assistant surgeon (depending on skill levels).

Maddigan worked with a local volunteer to set up the clinic. “It was a very engaging and educational experience for us all and really drives home the point that, together, we have the opportunity to create pet health and wellness in more than just our own home town,” he said.





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