Darwin Animal Doctors


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  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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