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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

OSU Veterinary Students Give Back to the International Community

November 7th, 2013

NICACrewAs summer came to an end this year, OSU’s International Veterinary Student’s Association (IVSA) offered their 6th annual veterinary service trip to the people and animals of Ometepe Island in Nicaragua.  This year 32 veterinary students, 4 veterinarians, 3 veterinary technicians and one Nicaraguan veterinary student participated in making this clinic a reality. This rural island community does not have access to veterinary care and the island community looks forward to the arrival of this enthusiastic OSU student brigade each year.

As the people of Ometepe rely on their animals for food, transportation, work and companionship the health and condition of these animals directly impacts the people and their livelihood.  The need for veterinary care on Ometepe is evident and many of the animals suffer from malnourishment and disease. It is the goal of IVSA to provide medical interventions that will improve their health and demonstrate the value of proper animal health care.

This year the temporary clinic operated for six days and treated 623 animals. Many of these animals were returning patients.  The clinic offered large and small animal wellness exams, small animal spays and neuters (dogs and cats), large animal castrations (horses and pigs), equine dentals, pregnancy checks, hernia repairs and farms calls. During the last day of the clinic a community seminar was held to increase community awareness of small animal nutrition, body condition, and external and internal parasite control in dogs and cats. The goal of the community seminar is to increase awareness of animal husbandry issues and to improve quality of life for the animals of the island and the communities that rely on them.

IVSA’s fundamental mission is to offer quality veterinary care and public health education to areas in need, while allowing students to gain practical experience, participate in cultural exchange, and share this gained knowledge with the greater OSU CVM community.   With this ambitious goal in mind each year, this entirely student driven project continues to grow and build on past successes with constant attention on future development.

The trip was entirely conceived, planned, implemented, and funded by the CVM students.  Student fundraising and charitable donations helped offset some of the costs inherent in a group effort of this size, though the remainder of the funding comes from each individual student or veterinarian.  The trip received amazing support from the Oregon Veterinary community, including thousands of dollars worth of donated supplies from all over our great state!  OSU student representatives and their corporate counterparts also rallied to get funding and donations of supplies, drugs, leashes, and more.

Although planning and implementing an international service trip in the midst of being full-time veterinary students can be challenging at times, the rewards of the experience far outweigh the difficulties encountered along the way.  The realization that we have what it takes to truly make a difference in the life of another living being lays the foundation for continuing this unique endeavor.  Oregon State IVSA invites you to step beyond your boundaries and join us next year in Nicaragua.

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