Darwin Animal Doctors


Archive: Jun 2012

  1. DAD treats 211 animals so far in June, across two islands of Galapagos

    Tod Emko, President, Darwin Animal Doctors

    photoFrom the most prestigious National Police dogs, to the most invisible street animals, DAD is treating every animal on Galapagos that would never have received veterinary treatment or relief from their suffering.  For the first three weeks in June, DAD treated 211 animals for injuries, illness, sterilization, parasites, and chronic conditions, across two islands of Galapagos.

    Just as important as the spaying and neutering of animals, DAD volunteers teach each our patients’ owners how to be good stewards of animal life and their environment in Galapagos, emphasizing the importance of good animal care and de-parasite treatments.  In our spay/neuter campaign, DAD volunteers also test each patient for infectious diseases that would complicate surgeries.

    There have been heroic and dramatic moments aplenty this summer.  At the invitation of Sea Shepherd, we continued treating the National Police dogs that stop the poaching and smuggling trade on Galapagos.  We performed surgeries to bring animals back from the brink.  Regardless if the owner was wealthy or poor, DAD treated every animal with the dignity and loving care that all patients deserve.

    We have countless more animals to treat this summer, and we can’t do it without your help!  The animals, the volunteers, and the future on this UN World Heritage Site thank you for it!

  2. Veterinary Care for Police Dogs

    luna1In 2008, Sea Shepherd Galapagos, in cooperation with the Ecuadorian National Police, set up – to date – the only police dog unit in Latin America that focuses on detecting illegal wildlife smuggling. Sea Shepherd has been paying all expenses for six police dogs that form this unit, and is now asking DAD to assist them in this project by providing the National Police with veterinary care and medicine.

    Report by DAD Veterinarian Dr. Lorelei Wakefield

    luna2An update on Luna, the police dog: Two Ecuadorian National Police officers brought her in today following an injury at the airport yesterday. She had been favoring her right hind paw, and they saw a red spot on her foot. She had a superficial interdigital abrasion on her right hind foot. I cleaned the abrasion, and recommended rest (not working) and daily foot soaks in diluted betadine for 3-5 days. I also recommended that she wear dog shoes on that foot until healed, and said to bring her back if it starts to look any worse. At this time, she does not require oral antibiotics.

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  3. Compassion Is One Size Fits All

    by Rachel Gates – Upenn Student

    This morning, volunteers Gretchen, Emily, Megan and I went door to door in one of the neighborhoods asking people if they wanted their pets spayed at no cost, or if they refused that offer, we would simply give the animals a dose of pyrantel and flea/tick preventative, to reduce the environmental harm of such parasites. We had a rather successful morning, bringing back two dogs and two cats, as well as treating about six others.

    However, the major event of the day came during the sleepy post lunch haze, commonly referred to in Latin culture as siesta. During this siesta, I was comfortably seated on the edge of a rather sparse and severely lacking flower bed, minding my own business and enjoying the heat of midday. A young boy about eight approached me babbling away as young children do. Of course, as my Spanish is far from fluent, the only word I picked up on was “perrito” (puppy). As I glanced down, the boy was clutching a puppy that looked no more than two weeks old who was both terrified and confused. Luckily, our Dr. Wakefield came to my aid and we were about to embark on an epic adventure to find the puppy’s siblings. After walking only about ten meters, we were stopped by an older woman who informed us that this puppy had in fact been found alone in a very large cardboard box out in the street. The puppy has some bald patches that may be attributed to malnutrition or perhaps to some sort of parasites, but is most likely a problem that is easily fixed. After Dr. Wakefield examined the puppy, it was determined that he is probably about two months old and just a tiny breed. Amazing.

    As for the puppy in a box you ask? Well as of now, he drank a little water (mostly spat it out), tried to chomp down a bit of food, but chewed my fingers more than the pellets of food, and is now curled up asleep in my lap. Great little puppy, now looking for a new home!


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  4. We Say Goodbye to Our Longtime Neighbor in Town: Lonesome George

    by Rachel Gates, UPenn student DAD volunteer

    Regal, majestic, lonely. These are a few of the words to describe George, the lonesome tortoise. The last of his species, conservation groups have been fervently working to create more of his kind, attempting to cross him with another subspecies from the Island of Wolf, here in the northern tip of the Galapagos Archipelago. The news hit us yesterday morning, after spending a morning relaxing on the beach, watching the sea lions frolic and the crazy ways that the marine iguanas swim, and seeing a few of the other DAD workers coming out of a very successful meeting at the University. The news came, Lonesome George had passed away. We were floored.

    The bachelor was young, scarcely older than perhaps 80 years old, half of the expected lifetime of the Galapagos Tortoise. I was lucky enough to see him at the beginning of my trip, but the other interns who have just arrived were not so lucky; they traveled all the way to the Galapagos and were not even able to see its main attraction. Unfortunately, it is incredibly difficult to determine when a tortoise is ailing, especially as they are so sedentary as it is. He was the last of his kind, and now his subspecies is officially extinct on the islands, a foreboding omen of what can become of the Galapagos if people do not change the way that they are living. Perhaps his nickname was more accurate than we could ever know, and his early demise was actually due to loneliness.

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  5. DAD’s 2012 Summer Campaign: 312 Animals Treated So Far!

    Tod Emko, President, Darwin Animal Doctors

    DAD volunteers have been clocking serious overtime in their deterimination to serve as much of the Galapagos community as possible, and to treat as many animals as they can.  To date, we have treated 312 animals in our summer campaign!

    On Santa Cruz Island, our UPenn vet student volunteers have seen a huge load of dramatic injury cases, sterilizations, and late nights, meeting each case with tireless enthusiasm and amazing care.  On our busiest day, our Santa Cruz vet, Dr. Seina Capp of Australia, performed over twenty sterilization surgeries!

    University of Florida vet student volunteers, who already finished with their portion of the campaign, actually returned to our clinic on their day off, to offer a hand to the UPenn students!

    On San Cristobal Island, our St. George’s University vet students and DAD vet Dr. Diego Barrera from Ambato, worked hard until it was time to catch their flights home.  The St. George’s University vet students had been treating animals across three different islands for the past three weeks straight!

    In total, we sterilized nearly a hundred cats and dogs so far on Galapagos this summer.  So many of the vet student volunteers have thanked us for the opportunity to make such a difference in this UN World Heritage Site.  But it is you, our supporters, that we all must thank.

    It is your decision to help save the Galapagos that ensures a future for all the animals worldwide the depend on this important archipelago.  Without your decision to help, none of our volunteers could go to Galapagos and save these animals to protect our World Heritage.

    Thank you all for helping the Galapagos and the future of so many.


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  6. On a Balmy June Night – Perspective from a DAD student volunteer

    Rachel Gates, University of Pennsylvania student and DAD summer intern

    On a balmy June night, the people of Santa Cruz were bustling about engaging in typical Sunday night activities. From watching the black tipped sharks and golden rays on the pier, to enjoying an evening stroll, to joyously careening through the streets on a motorized caterpillar ride, the residents and tourists of Puerto Ayora were living life to the fullest. Suddenly, tragedy struck by way of caterpillar-dog collision.

    Sunday was the first day that the new arrivals from the Vet School at the University of Pennsylvania along with Dr. Capp from Melbourne were staying on the island. Gretchen and I (Rachel), the interns for the summer, had survived the first campaign with the University of Florida students and vet, and after taking a few days off to explore, were biting at the bit to get back to work. Sunday was a day dedicated to restocking and organizing the clinic and prepping for the new campaign of the week. The clinic however, started much earlier than planned.

    p1010592At about 8PM, we heard a rattling outside, to find a man cradling his seven month old puppy in his arms, blood coming from severe abrasions down the right side of the abdomen. The prognosis was poor, and at the doctor’s discretion, it was decided that fluids would be administered to treat shock and to give round the clock pain relief, all attempts would be made to aide the puppy, Latika, and she would stay the night, with bi-hourly shifts to check the puppy’s progress and overall well-being.

    The next morning we were delightfully surprised to find her active and alert with a healthy appetite. She was sent home that day to rest, and a surgery was scheduled for Tuesday to attempt to repair the damage done to her side. Tuesday arrived and the owners returned with a very curious and happy puppy, which is always a very welcome sign. The surgery that Dr. Capp performed was intense and grueling. Large amounts of dead skin had to be removed and the skin then stretched to cover the exposed area. The surgery itself took almost two hours to complete. With drains in place and dozens of stitches holding Latika together, we kept her on morphine and fluids for the remainder of the day. From the severity of the injuries and the trauma suffered from the crash, the situation definitely had the possibility of a very grim outcome.

    p1010618As the day wore on, she struggled to awake from the anesthesia, but slowly a foot twitched, then an ear flickered, a blink. Then suddenly, she jumped up and attempted a jailbreak across the room. Amazing progress!! But the catheter and the morphine drip were still in place anchoring her to the curtain rod, those in recovery had to launch themselves at her in order to stop any damage to her veins from ripping out a catheter. Once she had been settled again after the original dash, she was soon a very active puppy. Finally, today she came in for another checkup.

    he was with us in recovery in the morning, sniffing the dogs and cats coming out of surgery, trying to explore the entire clinic and being a general puppy menace. Dr. Capp removed the drains and she was on her way home yet again. Something must be said for the extremely attentive and caring owners, who today had said that they were sure not to give Latika any food just in case another procedure needed to be performed, they have been amazing throughout this whole ordeal, and gives DAD something to be proud of in the Galapagos community.

    We will see how she is when she returns on Monday, but I am going to preemptively stamp this as a success, and another animal saved!!

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  7. We start week two of our campaign with 26 animals, important research, and intense cases!

    Tod Emko, President, Darwin Animal Doctors

    p1010464This week, our summer veterinary campaign started tackling two major islands of Galapagos. DAD veterinary volunteers on both islands stepped up to handle a large load, and to aid seriously suffering animals.

    Our DAD surgeon for San Cristobal this week is legendary surgeon Dr. Diego Barrera, the founder of “Proteccion Animal Ecuador Ambato,” or PAE Ambato (http://www.pae.ec/).  PAE is the only national network of municipality animal shelters in Ecuador, making it an extremely important institution.  Dr. Barrera is also an amazing surgeon, and he literally hit the ground running on this campaign.  Dr. Barrera flew to Galapagos this week wearing scrubs, went directly to the clinic from the airport, and began performing surgeries upon arrival.  Together with our St. George’s University veterinary students, he performed 12 sterilization surgeries in the first four hours!

    Some of the cases were intense.  One poor dog that came in had the worst case of tick infestation that Dr. Barrera had ever seen.  The dog had not dozens, not hundreds, but literally THOUSANDS of ticks all over it.  It took five DAD volunteers three hours to remove what they could and treat the dog, who was in serious shape.  The dog was most likely suffering from anemia due to having so many ticks feeding off its blood, and we gave the dog treatments for tick-borne diseases.

    On Santa Cruz Island, veterinary students from the University of Pennsylvania arrived at our clinic, and were joined by Australian veterinarian Dr. Seina Capp. Dr. Capp is head vet at Essendon Vet Clinic in Melbourne, with thousands of sterilization surgeries under her belt. The DAD UPenn campaign began early in the morning, just hours after the vet students arrived at our clinic.  Despite having traveled for two days to get to Galapagos, the students and vet were woken even earlier than planned, to handle everything from intense car accident cases to surgery all day, beautifully and professionally. In total, they treated 14 animals that day.

    We also continued our infectious disease testing on Galapagos this week, as St. George’s University veterinary students tested animals for many diseases that should not be on Galapagos.  Our findings not only tell us what treatments to give our patients, but the results are also vitally important to maintaining the health of these islands.

    Once again, we thank all of you for your contributions to these campaigns, because without your help, we couldn’t be in Galapagos to handle any of these cases, sterilize any of these animals in this sensitive ecosystem, alleviate any of this suffering, or do any of this research.

    Thank you for helping us save the Galapagos!


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