Darwin Animal Doctors


Archive: Oct 2017

  1. Jefe, the machete victim

    Santa Cruz, Galapagos

    Poor Jefe was brought into the Darwin Animal Doctors Galapagos clinic just before closing time one Monday evening. He had a large cut wound through his ear and was almost sliced in two. His family said that it had happened two days earlier, after their neighbor believed Jefe had killed some of his chickens, and took matters into his own hands. The team had never seen a dog attacked by a machete before. It was a horrible sight and everyone was glad Jefe had gotten away before the man with the machete was able to do any more damage.


    The tissue of both parts of the ear seemed vital enough, so the Doctors believed there was a good chance for the ear to heal completely with the correct surgical intervention.

    “We put Jefe under general anesthesia, clipped the hair, and washed the wound. Then, Dr.Alejo performed some pretty wonderful plastic surgery and sutured the ear back together. Since the owners agreed to sterilize the dog, we managed to do [the procedure] under the same anesthesia as well.”


    Jefe recovered well from the surgery and was able to go back home that same afternoon. He will return to the clinic for a check up later in the week and the Doctors hope to see the wound healing nicely.

    Join Heartbeat, our monthly giving program, and help animals just like Jefe every month!

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  2. Africa’s struggle with childbirth

    Santa Cruz, Galapagos

    Pregnancy, labor and childbirth are all extremely taxing on the body of an animal, just like for a human. Of course, the process of rearing the young also comes with its own set of complications and difficulties. For Africa, the situation became life threatening somewhere between the two stages…

    Africa had been in labor for two days before she was brought into the clinic one Monday morning. She had had five puppies two days prior, and had then given birth to two still births the evening before. Africa was weak – more so than she should be, even after two days of labor.

    Without an ultrasound to see inside her uterus, the team had to feel Africa’s abdomen to see if they could feel any abnormalities. As no team member was able to feel anything, and the Doctors did not want to put the already weak mother through an unnecessary surgery, Africa was given antibiotics to treat a likely uterus infection, and the family was asked to return the next day for a check up.

    The next day, Africa was not better, and seemed even weaker than the day before. There was now no choice but to conduct a surgery.

    Dr. Alejo and Dr. Daphne performed the surgery together, and what they found was horrifying. Africa did still have a puppy inside her. The puppy was not alive, and the stress that the long labour had put on her had resulted in a large tear in her uterus. Africa was lucky to be alive.


    Dr. Alejo and Daphne removed the whole uterus and flushed Africa’s abdomen. She was given strong antibiotics as well as fluids and was kept in the clinic for monitoring, along with her five puppies.

    Thankfully, the Doctors got to Africa just in time. She has improved rapidly, and is doing very well – as are her puppies. But her story is a reminder never to take a pregnancy lightly. The process is extremely demanding for a mother – and does not end at childbirth. With the number of animals already in shelters searching for loving homes, please remember to spay and neuter your pets.


    Help us bring free spay and neuter services around the world. Donate today.

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  3. Jopi and Helena: two emergencies, one day.

    Santa Cruz, Galapagos

    One Tuesday, during their lunch break, Dr. Daphne and Sacha were called back into the clinic as there was an emergency at the gate. And they were told the dog was in a bad state.

    The team arrived at the clinic, to find a large group of people gathered around Helena, the emergency case. Helena was lying on the ground, with a lot of saliva around her mouth, shaking profusely. Dr. Daphne immediately suspected a poisoning, and brought Helena into the clinic.

    Dr. Daphne gave the poor pup an injection to help relax her so that they would be able to get an IV line. Through this line, they were then able to administer the medication that Helena would need to survive. While she remained stable, Dr. Daphne and Sacha stayed with Helena through the lunch break to closely monitor her progress. She was improving well, and the team began to relax, thinking that they had moved past the most stressful situation for the day.

    However, as anyone who has worked with us in Galapagos knows, you just never know what will come next.

    Before the lunch break was over, Jopi was rushed into the clinic by his owners. He was covered in oil as his owners had given him oil and salt, believing that it would help with the poisoning (a common myth in Ecuador). The oil does not help at all with the poisoning – but does make it extremely difficult to place an IV line. As Jopi continued to foam at the mouth and shake, Dr. Rosa (who had just returned from her lunch break) was finally able to place an IV line and start Jopi on the medication he so desperately needed.

    Both dogs stayed in the clinic for the afternoon, so the Doctors could ensure that they both had a full recovery. By 7pm, both Jopi and Helena were healthy enough to go home and the owners came to pick them up.


     Poisonings require immediate and careful attention. Thankfully for Jopi and Helena, the Darwin animal Doctors were there when they needed it most. Help us be there for other animals who need help. Donate today.


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  4. Candy

    Santa Cruz, Galapagos

    Candy, a very sweet Husky puppy of only two months old was carried into the clinic after being hit by a car.

    As she arrived, in the arms of the father of her human family, the Doctors noticed steady bleeding from an open wound on one of Candy’s hind legs. The Doctors quickly stopped the bleeding, and checked Candy over for any other signs of damage. The bleeding leg was broken, but otherwise, Candy did not sustain any substantial injuries.


    The pup was kept under close observation for the next while to ensure that her condition remained stable. After the Doctors were confident that she would not slip into shock, they began her operation.

    Unfortunately, the damage to Candy’s leg was so excessive she would need an amputation. After discussion with the family, Dr. Daphne conducted the surgery, with the support of volunteers Agatha and Lauren on anesthetics. The surgery went smoothly, and that afternoon, the father returned to visit Candy.

    The father mentioned that the family were worried and upset for Candy that she would now have to learn to live with just three legs. The Doctors explained to the father how a dog is able to live a normal and happy life on three legs, and gave him a copy of A Piggy’s Tale to take home and show his children (A Piggy’s Tale is a Humane Education comic used in DAD’s Human Education curriculum, based on a true story about a dog who loses his leg – but becomes a superhero. For more information, click here). The volunteers decided that someone else could benefit from hearing the story of Piggy… and read the comic to the recovering Candy.

    Candy stayed in the clinic for the night to be closely monitored. She continued improving through the night, and was doing very well by the next morning. The Doctors decided that she was healthy enough to go home and return to her family.


    Help us ensure that animals, just like Candy, get the care and attention they deserve. Donate today.

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  5. Meet Dr. Alejo, our new Galapagos veterinarian!

    As Dr. Daphne and Sacha leave the Darwin Animal Doctors’ clinic, we are very excited to welcome our new Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Alejo.

    Darwin Animal Doctors first got to know Dr. Alejo during their relief mission to Canoa, a small town on the coastline of mainland Ecuador, after the April 2016 earthquake. Dr. Alejo had also rushed to the aid of his country, and set up a temporary animal hospital in the small town. Impressed with his commitment to helping animals, his devotion to his country, and his kind, humble nature, the Darwin Animal Doctors team stayed in contact with Dr. Alejo. When the position for Chief Veterinarian in Galapagos opened up, he was the first person we contacted.

    We recently took the opportunity to catch up with Dr. Alejo after his first week in the clinic.

    DAD; Dr. Alejo, can you tell us a little about your background?

    Dr. Alejo; I’ve been working a year [in a clinic] with my older brother and my dad (also vets). I have also been working as a teacher in surgery courses awarded by USFQ and the American College Of Surgeons. Surgery and teaching are my passions.

    DAD; What inspired you to join Darwin Animal Doctors?

    Dr. Alejo; I’ve always wanted to work for my community and do some volunteering. I’ve know this since I was born, but it was confirmed when the 7.8 earthquake hit our coastline last year and duty called.

    DAD; What are you most looking forward to over the next six months?

    Dr. Alejo; I would love to help control the problem of overpopulation of dogs and cats with sterilization rather than eradication; Authorities have been known to poison dogs and cats and then they come dying to DAD and we have to respond quickly to the emergency. I want to do more for my community than providing free veterinary services – I want to be involved in education too.

    Welcome, Dr. Alejo, to the Darwin Animal Doctors’ team. We are so lucky to have you joining us in Galapagos and can’t wait to hear about all the amazing work you do there!

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  6. Margarita

    Santa Cruz, Galapagos

    Margarita was rushed into the Darwin Animal Doctors’ clinic after being hit by a car. Upon arrival, the Doctors could see that Margarita was badly injured. She had blood flowing from her eyes, mouth and nose. Her upper jaw seemed to be broken, and she was unable to close her mouth completely.

    Margarita was in a lot of pain, and had suffered extensive injuries.

    Before being able to deal with the wounds, Dr. Daphne and Dr. Rosa needed to stabilize Margarita. The poor cat was in shock, needing special attention. Margarita was also given pain killers and antibiotics and was monitored through the day. Her face was still too swollen for the Doctors to be able to deal with some of the injuries, and Margarita needed more time to get some strength back.

    The next morning, Margarita’s swelling had reduced, and Dr. Rosa was able to take a closer look at the damage that she had sustained. It was clear that Margarita’s upper jaw was broken, and would need to be sutured back in place. A difficult and unusual surgery, this would be no simple task. Thankfully, with Dr. Rosa’s extensive experience, she was able to conduct the surgery without complication.


    During the surgery, Dr. Rosa also placed a feeding tube through Margarita’s nose, knowing that the poor cat would not be able to eat for the coming days.

    While the surgery was complete, Margarita’s recovery had only just begun.

    Over the next week and a half, Dr. Rosa spent many hours paying especially close care and attention to this poor cat. Part of her care involved ensuring that Margarita would be adequately fed as she could not eat for herself. Dr. Rosa sat with Margarita multiple times a day, feeding her at first through the feeding tube, and then progressing to slowly hand feeding her through her mouth. After more than a week of careful feeding, Margarita was finally able to eat by herself.


    Thanks to the patience and dedication of Dr. Rosa, Margarita returned to full health, and was able to go home again with her family after almost two weeks in the clinic. Her recovery was an incredible one – Margarita is lucky to be alive.



    Help us ensure that more animals, just like Margarita, get the care they deserve. Donate today.

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  7. Supporter Spotlight: Lisa de Rijcke

    This month, the Darwin Animal Doctors team would like to shine the Supporter Spotlight on a volunteer who has gone above and beyond to help and care for animals, and has always put a smile on all of our faces.

    Lisa de Rijcke is a veterinary student from the Netherlands who first joined our team for eight weeks in Galapagos. During this time, Lisa truly shone as a hard-working and committed student, who was always taking every opportunity to learn more. Not only a pleasure to teach, Lisa was always a great team player and a friend to all – including every one of the patients. If there was ever a down time in the clinic, Lisa could be found cuddling with clinic patients, giving them the extra TLC that would help bring them back to health. After seeing her true dedication to her studies, and animals in general, the Darwin Animal Doctors’ team was thrilled when she asked to volunteer with us again for five weeks in Thailand. During the Thailand campaign, Lisa surprised us once more, after her huge effort in fundraising prior to arriving in Koh Tao. Lisa’s hard work and generosity meant that we were able to organize additional supplies for the Thailand campaign, helping us treat more animals and save more lives.


    Recently, the Darwin Animal Doctors team caught up with Lisa to hear a little more about her reasons for becoming a vet, and her view on volunteering with Darwin Animal Doctors.

    DAD; Lisa, why did you decide to go to vet school?

    Lisa; Because I wanted to be a vet 😉 No kidding, I’ve always wanted to be a vet, because I love animals and I want to help them, and I think veterinary medicine is quite interesting.

    DAD: What will it mean to you to be a vet?

    Lisa; I think it will be quite exciting and difficult when I’ve just graduated, to have the responsibility over animal’s lives. But it’s also what I’m studying for, so I look forward to finally being able to make my own decisions. I hope that when I’m a vet, I can make a change for the animals and their owners, by helping them as good as possible.

    DAD: Why did you decide to volunteer with DAD (for a second time)!

    Lisa; My first time in Galapagos was amazing, I learned a lot and had so much fun with Carmen and the other volunteers. So when Carmen told me that she was going to Thailand and my parents told me that we were going on a holiday to Malaysia, I didn’t even have to think. I immediately asked Carmen if I could volunteer in Thailand as well and she was also enthusiastic about that, luckily 😊 I just wanted to learn more and have an amazing time again, cuddling with dogs and cats all day and enjoying such a beautiful island.

    DAD: What did you hope to help by joining DAD?

    Lisa; I hoped to help as many animals as possible, by giving them the care and love they needed.

    DAD: What did you learn while with us? What where some of your favorite memories/experiences, from this or your previous trip?

    Lisa; I learned so much. Before I went to Galapagos I didn’t feel like I would be a good vet in 3 years or even that I knew anything about all the diseases and treatments. Now I feel much more confident and I’m even more certain that I really have to finish my study to be a vet. I learned about the diseases and the treatments I saw in Galapagos, but also learned many practical things, like giving injections, placing IV catheters, doing surgery and much more. My favorite experiences were my first surgeries, I remember so well the first dog I castrated together with Carmen. But also in Thailand, the first time I did it on my own, I felt so much more responsible. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to practice so much.

    And we had so much fun with the group of volunteers in Galapagos that I could go on and on about all the memories I have from the trips on the island, to other islands, going out, everything was just so nice! In Thailand, my favorite moment of the day was when I arrived at the clinic and all the dogs were just so happy and all wanted attention and cuddles.


    Thank you, Lisa – for the care and love you have towards animals, for your dedication to making a difference, and for brightening our volunteer teams. We wish you the best of luck with your studies, and look forward to the day you become a fully qualified vet!



    If you would like to volunteer with us, check out our volunteer page here, and fill out a volunteer application form. We look forward to hearing from you!

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