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Category Archive: Monthly reports

  1. 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.

      


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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. Meet Dr. Alejo, DAD’s 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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  5. 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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  6. 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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  7. A huge Thank You!

    It is that time of year again, where we are brought into that strange balance of being quite saddened, and very excited – all at the same time.

    As September comes to an end, it becomes time to say goodbye to our amazing team in Galapagos, as Dr. Daphne and Sacha finish up their six months with us. We are also very excited to be welcoming our new vet, Dr. Alejo; a dedicated and motivated vet, who has donated much of his time to protect the animals and unique ecosystem of Ecuador. We are so excited to have Dr. Alejo with us in the Galapagos, to help protect one of his nation’s greatest treasures! Check back in with us soon as we catch up with Dr. Alejo after his first week in Galapagos.

    But first, we want to take a moment to thank Sacha and Dr. Daphne for all their incredible work over the last six months. This Dynamic Duo has been a true blessing to the Darwin Animal Doctors’ team, and will be sorely missed.

    Dr. Daphne is a down-to-earth, no nonsense, incredibly talented vet. One of many volunteer experiences, Daphne has truly dedicated her skills and knowledge to helping the less fortunate animals – those without a voice, and those in need. It has been an inspiration to us all to hear and experience those times that Dr. Daphne would go above and beyond to help a sick animal. From the time she stayed throughout the night in the clinic, to wake every half hour to comfort Cosita and calm her back to sleep, to the time she came rushing back into the clinic at 6:30am on a Saturday to help Nessi give birth. Dr. Daphne has spend countless weekends in the clinic, staying through the day to monitor a patients’ progress (like with Rex), arriving extra early to the clinic to check on a patient (just like with Bonny), and running back to the clinic late in the evening to make sure an animal would have the help they need (lucky for Blacky). Dr. Daphne does not just work as a vet, but truly dedicates her life to her profession; caring for animals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

         

    Alongside all the cases, and all the animals that she has helped, Dr. Daphne has trained and supported 37 volunteers who have come through the clinic during her time. It seems almost impossible that one person could have done so much; and it kind of is…

     

    Standing right beside Dr. Daphne, and providing invaluable support over the last six months, has been Sacha; Galapagos’ onsite Clinic Coordinator. “Clinic Coordinator” is the simple title we give to someone who is actually clinic photographer, clinic writer, clinic reporter, clinic volunteer support and organizer, clinic generally support, surgical support, clinic campaign organizer and clinic education support. It goes almost without saying, Sacha’s commitment to supporting the Darwin Animal Doctors’ team in every way, has been inspiring, and has allowed the clinic to do more over the last six months than ever before. With such unfaultering support, the Darwin Animal Doctors’ team was able to support ABG in three campaigns on various islands, as well as run an education/sterilization campaign in the highlands.

      

    As well as her dedication to the clinic and its team, Sacha has always been the first to jump in to give a patient that extra TLC they need to help get themselves back to health. Sacha has walked around with Peiton in a backpack to make sure he stayed upright to help him digest, kept Oso by her side when he was too scared to be alone, helped the puppies of Nessi take their first breath, comforted the family of Lucky as he went into surgery, and has been there every time that Dr. Daphne or the team were needed out of hours to help an animal in need.

      

    Thank you both for six months of 100% dedication, and for always going above and beyond to help us protect the unique and fragile ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands. From everyone here at Darwin Animal Doctors, from all our volunteers, and all our patients and members of the Galapagos community; Thank you!

      

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  8. A gentle reminder…

    Every wondered why we recommend removing all small bones from food before giving it to your cat or dog?

    Meet Tita. Tita came into the clinic as she had had a bone stuck in her throat for the past eight hours. Poor Tita was not able to get it out herself and the uncomfortable, painful situation continued. By the time her family found out what was going on, Tita was so distressed, that she had become quite aggressive and the family were unable to remove the bone either.

    Thankfully, the family brought the poor cat to the Darwin Animal Doctors clinic, where the team were able to lightly sedate Tita and gently remove the bone.

    Lucky for Tita, the story has a happy ending. But let her be a reminder to you to be careful what you feed your cats and dogs!

      


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  9. A Campaign in the Highlands

    Parque Artesenal, Galapagos

    Recently, the Darwin Animal Doctors’ team headed to the highlands, to an area which had been identified as a possible “problem area” for un-spayed or un-neutered animals. This area would mark the first, in the plan to reach more families in the greater Santa Cruz Island.

    With the support of ABG, Sacha and Keyla, a representative of the Kemahe group, went into the “Parque Artesenal” to talk with the local community about sterilization and its importance. While there, they also asked the community members about why their, or other, animals weren’t sterilized, to identify potential barriers to accessing the free services at the Darwin Animal Doctors’ clinic.

     

    The community’s president and vice presidents were extremely supportive of the team’s plan, having actively encouraged sterilization themselves. They were forthcoming with advice, information and assistance throughout the program.

    After the questionnaire was complete, it was evident that one of the barriers faced by the community was not being able to bring their animals to the clinic in Puerto Ayora. In response to this, the Darwin Animal Doctors’ team brought the clinic to the community.

     

    With the permission and support of ABG, the entire DAD team, including Dr. Daphne, Sacha, Dr. Richard, Katie, Ximena, Lydia and Tifany, set up a temporary clinic in the area. ABG vet, Dr. Rita, and some support staff also joined the DAD team, bringing microchips and registration technology to ensure every animal that was sterilized was also registered and chipped.

     

    Two invaluable team members were Keyla and Lauren from the Kemahe group. These active young locals walked through the community to speak to any owners who mentioned that their animals were not sterilized to convince them to bring them to the temporary clinic. The community president also provided essential support, accompanying the girls to talk with the families.

     

    By the end of the day, eight dogs and one cat were sterilized, and one dog was brought back to the DAD clinic to treat a broken leg which he had sustained some time ago. According to the community, these were all the owned animals which were previously unsterilized in the area.

    Alongside the surgeries, the main goal of the program was to begin moving into the highlands and educating the wider community of Santa Cruz about sterilization. For that reason, the biggest achievement of the campaign was that 86 out of 89 families were reached, communicated with directly and given information on the importance of sterilization.

    A huge thank you to ABG, the Kemahe group, Ros Cameron and to the local community presidents, and the community themselves for such wonderful support in the first step of this program. Check back in with us to hear about how it continues!


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  10. Stubs’ Story

    Santa Cruz, Galapagos

    Stubs first came in to the Darwin Animal Doctors’ clinic in April, when he was only 2 months old. He had come in for a puppy health check with his sister Rose. Rose became quite well known to the clinic, as she faced a few health problems in her first months. Stubs, on the other hand, had not needed any extra attention or care.

    One day, however, Stubs stopped eating and drinking and became quite lethargic. After he still did not improve the next day, the family brought him into the clinic. After looking him over, Dr. Daphne noticed that the wound from his sterilization surgery (which had happened about a week before) looked a little infected. She gave Stubs an antibiotic treatment and something to help with the nausea, so that he would start to eat again. Stubs went home with his family with instructions to return if his condition did not improve.

    Three days later, Stubs returned to the clinic. He was still not eating or drinking very much, and did not seem to have any more energy. The family reported that there were no other symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, although Dr. Daphne noticed that his abdomen did feel quite tense.

    That evening, and continuing over the next day, Dr. Daphne and the team began treating Stubs’ symptoms and running blood and urine tests to determine what could have been the cause. That next evening, however, Stubs’ condition got worse as he began to present with seizure-like symptoms.

        

    Dr. Richard was onsite when Stubs began his seizures. With the help of some volunteers, Dr. Richard was able to treat Stubs’ symptoms and return him to a normal, balanced state. Stubs remained in the clinic overnight for monitoring and to await the results of his final tests.

       

    The next day, the Doctors were able to determine that Stubs had meningitis, an infection of the membranes which cover the brain and spinal cord. The Doctors gave the little pup the treatment that he needs to help fight the meningitis. Over the next days, Stub’s condition improved. He began eating and drinking again, gaining 2 kilograms of body weight, and some of his energy was beginning to return.

    Stubs still has a long road to recovery, and the Doctors will need to continue to monitor his progress to ensure his continuing improvement. Make sure to check back in with us to see how the little pup improves.


    Help other animals, just like Stubs, get the essential medical that they need to survive. Donate today.

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