Darwin Animal Doctors


Category Archive: Monthly reports

  1. Lucky wasn’t so lucky

    Santa Cruz, Galapagos

    One Thursday evening around 7pm, a couple came into the clinic with their dog. He had been hit by a car approximately 20 minutes before coming into the clinic. He had some deep wounds in his leg, and after an examination by volunteers Dr. Roxanne and Dr. Bianca, the Doctors realized that the leg was broken. As the team informed the owners, they became very distressed, and began to cry. Sacha needed to further explain that it was possible that they might need to amputate the leg, and that even if they did not have to straight away, then it would rely very heavily on the couple’s consistency in returning to the clinic for check-ups. Sacha sat with the couple and tried to comfort them, explaining that the Doctors would do whatever was possible to save the leg, but that if they needed to remove it, a dog could still happily lead a life on three legs.

    The Doctors took Lucky into the clinic to examine her closely. She had been panting, and they needed to make sure that she was stable after the incident. On further examination of the leg, they still could not be sure that they would be able to save it; the wounds were quite excessive, and the break seemed quite severe. The owners had agreed for the Doctors to do whatever was possible to save the leg, so the team anaesthetized Lucky to begin cleaning the wounds and seeing if it would be possible to cast Lucky’s leg.


    As the surgery began, Dr. Roxanne realized that the break was worse than expected; Lucky’s leg would have to be amputated.

    Dr. Daphne called the family as Dr. Roxanne and Dr. Bianca begun the amputation surgery. The family was upset that Lucky would have to lose his leg. Thankfully, Mayra stepped in and continued the conversation with the couple so that they were well informed and comfortable with what was going on.

    At about midnight, the team had finally finished the long and difficult surgery. The amputation was a great success, and Lucky was well on his way to recovery. The Doctors would continue to monitor the pup’s progress to ensure that the healing process continues well. Check back in with us to see how Lucky is going!


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  2. Supporter Spotlight; Sarah Darling

    This month, Darwin Animal Doctors shines our spotlight on an amazing supporter and all around animal protector. Sarah Darling is a London-raised artist who made her home in Galapagos 25 years ago. Sarah is known throughout the Galapagos Islands for her kind-hearted nature, her amazing art, and for her house of rescued street cats. Sarah lives in a living work of art – a mosaic filled house with 18 rescued street cats and her three rescued street dogs. During that time, Sarah has lived by a simple motto: the best thing you can do in life is to help an animal.

    Sarah believes in leading by example. She was probably the first person to ever walk a dog on a leash in Puerto Ayora, the main town in the Galapagos Islands and she has rescued many cats during the past 25 years. Since Darwin Animal Doctors open its clinic and began treating animals in the Galapagos, Sarah has been a strong ally and supporter.

    The real start of Sarah’s Galapagos rescue journey was Neptune, her first rescued dog. A friend found him wandering in the in the main square of Bella Vista, a town in the highlands of Santa Cruz. He was not much more than skin and bone and looked like the walking dead. In 2003, prior to the arrival of Darwin Animal Doctors, the sight of a starving, skinny street dog searching for food scraps was not uncommon on the four human-inhabited islands in the Galapagos. Sarah recounts seeing a huge number of street dogs on Santa Cruz Islands during this time, none of whom seemed to have a home or caregiver.

    Neptune; as he looked when he was found in Bella Vista


    Lucky for Neptune, Sarah and her friend pleaded with the government veterinarian to help save Neptune’s life. The compassionate vet worked alongside Sarah and her friend to save Neptune. For the first month, the poor pup was ill. With Sarah’s love, attention, and care, Neptune made a full recovery. Sarah began to walk him on a leash throughout Puerto Ayora. This leading by example and showing Neptune’s recovery was a clear demonstration of what love and care can do to a dog or cat.


    Since Neptune’s rescue and successful recovery, Sarah has opened her home to many other animals in need of help and a home. When Darwin Animal Doctors opened their doors in 2010, many cats were rescued from the streets or left at the clinic with no place for them to go. Thankfully for these cats, Sarah came to their aid and began adopting them. Sarah now has 18 cats, in perfect health who live in harmony in Sarah’s incredible home. Sarah has built them a protected, art filled outdoor play area, multiple different mosaic perches and many comfortable beds. Sarah’s three dogs are equally spoiled and can often be seen walking through town with Sarah or sitting with her in her art gallery “Angelique Art Gallery” in the centre of Puerto Ayora.


    Not only has Sarah been a lifesaver to many animals and an advocate for their proper care and treatment, she is an incredible supporter of Darwin Animal Doctors. Sarah is one of the main organisers of the annual Hash House Harriers run, an annual fun run through town to raise money and awareness for Darwin Animal Doctors. Sarah is also known to host the clinic volunteers. And she dedicated her time and effort to creating the beautiful Darwin Animal Doctors mosaic and logo that now decorates the clinic’s entrance.

    Sarah recalls seeing a huge change in the population over the last seven years. Since the introduction of Darwin Animal Doctor’s humane education programs and having a fulltime vet in the Darwin Animal Doctors’ clinic, the human residents have come to understanding the need to sterilize cats and dogs and the importance of proper care for their animals. The young people are a big part of these positive changes. Young people are spreading the message of proper care and treatment of cats and dogs and more and more children bring cats and dogs found on the street into the DAD clinic.

    A huge thank you Sarah, for all the animals you have gifted with a beautiful life, for all the times you have supported the Darwin Animal Doctors clinic, and for spreading your kindness and caring attitude to animals worldwide through your beautiful art.

    If you are ever in Puerto Ayora, we encourage you to drop by Sarah’s art gallery to drop in and say hi, and to check out her wonderful art – where you will likely see Sarah’s favorite saying hidden in amongst the art: “Animals are little angels sent to teach us to love”.

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  3. Humane Education in Thailand

    Koh Tao, Thailand

    Early this month, the Thailand team put down their scrubs and surgery kits and picked up some books, lesson plans and games and headed down to the local elementary school. The team had a big task that day; for some, a task more daunting than surgery. The Koh Tao school is the only local school on the island, and is comprised of approximately 300 children. The Doctors were there that day to ensure that every child at the school received an age-appropriate Humane Education lesson. Back in the US, Darwin Animal Doctors’ Humane Education Coordinator had been working hard to ensure that the team would have all the tools they needed to have the day run successfully, from lesson plans to games, books and take-home information.


    For the Doctors to be able to visit each age group, and to have enough time to deliver a full set of classes, the school divided the students into four groups, where the team would have 90 minutes with each age group. By the end of the day, the team had worked with children ranging from 3 to 15 years old. Depending on the age group, the children were given different lessons to help understand how to best care for the animals and environment around them.


    The children played games which taught them to identify and understand the difference between wild and domesticated animals, and the different ways that we need to interact with and care for them. They played other games that aimed to teach children which foods are safe and unsafe for their pets, as well games which taught children different animal names in English. With older children, they also played animal care focused trivia games where the students were taught and ‘tested’ on a wide variety of aspects of pet and general animal care as well as aspects of environmental care. Kids were also given talks on what it means to be a vet, and given vet related games for the school to keep for the children to be able to use on a regular basis. All students at the school were also given a colouring book and information pamphlet which outlines what your pet needs to be happy and healthy, with a strong emphasis on sterilization.


    After a long day, the team of Doctors left the school tired, but feeling very positive about all the information they were able to share with the students. The children all had a great day, full of games and excitement, and left with a much better understanding of how to best care for the animals and environment around them.


    A huge thank you to Dr. Carmen, Dr. Kate, Lisa, Antoine, Rebecca and Katheryn who put in a huge effort that day to ensure each child on Koh Tao had a fun and entertaining education filled day.


    Help us spread Humane Education world-wide. Become a monthly donor today.

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  4. Peiton’s Story Continues

    Santa Cruz, Galapagos

    A few days later, Peiton’s concerned guardian returned to the clinic as the poor little pup had begun vomiting again.

    The Doctors began to check Peiton over, searching for the cause of her vomiting. After some delibertion, they were able to determine that due to the excessive vomiting during her illness, Peiton’s stomach acids had burned the oesophegas and she was now regurgitating all her food. The solution? It was actually quite simple. The team needed to make sure that Peiton stayed upright for at least half an hour after she ate to help the food get into her stomach.

    As the concern for Parvo had passed, the team could keep Peiton in the clinic for a few days. Each member of the team took turns to assist the little pup with eating, by hand feeding her, and would then hold her after every meal, to ensure that she would stay standing for at least half an hour. If all hands were needed in the clinic, Peiton would find herself wrapped up and supported in a backpack, taken around everywhere by Sacha.


    The plan was working. Peiton had stopped regurgitating her food, as was looking increasingly better. The little pup showed multiple signs of a healthy digestive tract, and so after a few days of care in the clinic, Peiton was cleared to go home.

    Her loving guardian returned to pick her up and was very happy to hear that the little pup was finally better. She later reported to the clinic team that Peiton was doing very well, eating happily and playing energetically with her brother.


    Help more animals – just like Peiton – have a happy ending to their story by donating today

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  5. Peiton

    Santa Cruz, Galapagos

    Peiton and her older brother, Eileen, were brought into the clinic on a Friday as she had begun vomiting, had diarrhea and wasn’t eating. Due to the concern of Parvo Virus, it was not possible to keep the dogs in the clinic, and they would need to return twice a day to receive the life saving medication and treatments that they needed.

    By Sunday, Eileen was doing much better and only needed to be monitored from home. Peiton, however, was still not better and she would continue to need twice daily treatments. The dedicated family drove in all the way from the highlands, twice a day to ensure that Peiton would get her life-saving treatments.


    After one week of treatment, Peiton was starting to look better. She was no longer vomiting and had become more active. However, as treatment continued, Peiton’s rate of improvement did not continue as expected. As she still had not begun to eat, Dr. Daphne expected an issue with her digestion tract. As Peiton was now stronger thanks to the treatment, it was possible to conduct an exploratory surgery to see if it could be determined what was going on.  The exploratory surgery revealed some interesting information to the Doctors, although not exactly what was expected.

    After she had recovered from the surgery, Peiton strangely begun to eat again. It was great to see the little puppy eating, but the team knew they would have to keep a close eye on her to check for relapses. Peiton went home that evening, with strict instructions to return if she started to vomit again, or display any other abnormal signs.

    A few days later, Peiton returned… Check back in with us soon to hear what happens next!

    Animals are in need of your support. Give monthly and provide the necessary supplies for life-saving treatments!

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  6. Expanding our Reach to Save More Animals

    Expanding our Reach to Save More Animals:
    July 2017 ABG Spay and Neuter Campaigns on Isabela and San Cristobal Islands

    Isabela and San Cristobal, Galapagos

    In partnership with the Agency for the Regulation and Control of Biosecurity and Quarantine for Galapagos (ABG), Darwin Animal Doctors participated in two multi-day domestic animal care clinics on the islands of Isabela and San Cristobal. ABG is the government body tasked with protecting the delicate ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands and Darwin Animal Doctors provides support with their animal care efforts.

    In Isabela, Doctor Daphne, clinic coordinator Sacha, and volunteers Juliette and Raphaëlle joined the ABG team from Monday, June 26 to Wednesday 28, 2017. From  July 4 to 5, the San Cristobal team consisted of Doctor Daphne and Sacha. Isabela and San Cristobal have much smaller human populations than Santa Cruz, where the Darwin Animal Doctors clinic is located. While this may mean smaller populations of cats and dogs, the risks to wildlife the growing cat and dog populations are the same.



    As Dr. Daphne conducted the spay and neuter surgeries and Sacha weighed and prepared each animal for surgery, volunteer vet students Juliette and Raphaëlle alternated between helping Sacha and Dr. Daphne. On the first day of the campaign, the team conducted 13 spay or neuter surgeries. At the end of the day, Dr. Rita (ABG) and Dr. Daphne treated the special cases.


    On the second day, Dr. Lisette of ABG joined the Darwin Animal Doctors team in the morning. Dr. Daphne worked in conjunction with Dr. Lisette, showing her some additional surgery skills as they conducted surgeries together. Dr. Rita from ABG returned in the afternoon. Together, the teams completed another 20 surgeries.

    For the third and final day of the campaign, the group went to the highlands of Isabela, bringing their supplies with them in two 4X4 pick-up trucks. The ABG/ Darwin Animal Doctors team use a classroom without running water or electricity. The teams worked through the morning and, with a small town to serve, they completed their nine surgeries by lunch time.

    In total, 42 animals were spayed or neutered during the three-day campaign.



    San Cristobal

    The following week, Doctor Daphne and Sacha joined the ABG on San Cristobal. As the ABG/ Darwin Animal Doctors team arrived at the small clinic on the island, people were already lining up outside with many animals in tow! The teams quickly unpacked, prepared, and began working.

    The ABG San Cristobal team where incredibly organised and supportive. The small clinic space was cramped but the ABG team provided crucial assistance, helping to weigh animals, administer medications, and cleaning equipment.

    San Cristobal was a busier operation than Isabela. The ABG/ Darwin Animal Doctors team completed 41 spay and neuter surgeries and did not finish until 8:00 PM on the first day.  The second day saw another 40 animals undergoing surgery. While the doctors operated on so many animals, there were still more animals awaiting surgery. The teams will return for another campaign soon.



    A huge thank you is due to the ABG team for their organization of the campaigns to Isabela and San Cristobal. It was wonderful to support such an important aspect of the protection of the Galapagos Islands. Darwin Animal Doctors looks forward to more productive campaigns with ABG to treat domestic animals and protect wildlife.

    Support Darwin Animal Doctors and continue our life-saving campaigns. Become a monthly donor today!


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  7. Nessi

    Santa Cruz, Galapagos


    Pregnancy and labour are very taxing on the body; and for a stray, it is often a life-threatening experience. For Nessi, the experience was just that.

    One of the dedicated girls from the Kemahe group brought Nessi into the clinic one Saturday morning at 6:30am. Nessi was very weak, already in labour and had given birth to one still birth, and another live, but extremely weak puppy. Nessi had given up, and had stopped pushing. Dr. Daphne gave her a hormone injection to help her continue with the labour, and Nessi was able to push out two more pups; although one was a still birth, and the other was very weak.


    After that, Nessi gave up again, but still had puppies inside her womb. The Doctors would have to conduct a C-section.

    A difficult surgery, the C-section would require all members of the team to assist. Dr. Daphne, Raphaelle and Juliette conducted the surgery, while Sacha and two other volunteers tried to get the puppies breathing again.

    The team were able to save the two weak puppies, but could not revive the still borns. It was thanks to her access to medical care, however, that Nessi and the two puppies were able to survive at all. 


    Lucky for Nessi, the Kemahe group, and the Darwin Animal Doctors team were there to help when the process of pregnancy and labour had become too much, and she had given up. For many street dogs, they do not have the same access to essential medical help.

    Help us ensure that all dogs, just like Nessi, have access to veterinary care when they need it most, by donating today. Every donation goes towards spaying and neutering animals around the world, so they do not have to raise a litter living on the streets.

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  8. My Feathered Friend Mien

    Koh Tao, Thailand

    Mien was just a tiny, newly hatched chick when locals brought her to the Darwin Animal Doctors clinic in Koh Tao, Thailand. She was very weak and could not stand. The people who brought her to the clinic believed that the little hatchling fell from her nest. It also appeared that she broke the upper part of her beak, making her beak shorter.


    The survival rate for such a young chick without her mother is quite low, and hatchlings like this require a huge amount of care to have any chance of survival. I knew that this little hatchling would need feedings every thirty minutes and constant attention – like she would get from her mother in nature. It would be a big undertaking, but I was prepared to do whatever I could to save the little bird. The team and I named her Mien, and from then on, she came with me everywhere in a little nest I built for her inside a cat carrier.

    Without her mother, Mien relied on me for everything – from food and water to protection and care. She wakes me up at sunrise for food and goes to sleep at sunset. If we are busy spaying or neutering cats and dogs, Mien just starts peeping to let me know that she’s hungry.


    I soon found Mien a real nest. I saw it in town one in town at a jewellery shop. The shop owner told me her son found the empty nest, and so she needed to ask him if I could have it for Mien. I returned the next day and her son agreed to give it to Mien. She is very happy with it!


    Mien improved and grew rapidly as I maintained the 30 minute feeding schedule. She quickly took to sitting on my shoulder and cuddling into my neck. We would eat breakfast together, go to the clinic together, and even going to the beach together!


    As Mien gets stronger, she now spends some of her day in a soft-release cage next to a tree. The cage is there from when Jae and Nai, our local partners from Noistar Animal Clinic, raised another hatchling. After being hand-raised, it is important that a bird is able to adjust to living in the wild in a controlled and protected manner. A hand-raised hatchling will spend some time in a cage in nature with food and water available. Once they are accustomed to this and are strong enough, they enter the “soft-release” period where the cage is opened so they can leave, but there is still food for them in case they need it. The last hand-raised hatchling was successfully released to living in nature again. She can often be seen around the clinic, and remembers Nai, who cared for her, and gets excited when she sees him.

    Mien is becoming more and more comfortable in nature and will eventually also be released. Until then, I will continue to care for her until she is strong enough and able to care for herself.

    Dr. Carmen

    P.S. We have spayed and neutered 231 cats and dogs since launching Operation Chumpon Champion on Koh Tao, Thailand. It isn’t too late to support this important effort to control the dog and cat population here and protect the vital nesting grounds for turtles and birds. Please support our campaign by donating here.

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  9. Cosita

    Santa Cruz, Galapagos

    Cosita was brought into the clinic as an emergency case very late one Thursday night as she had begun displaying neurological symptoms; she was stumbling and trembling, and crying out. Dr. Daphne and Sacha were immediately called into the clinic to examine the poor pup.

    After examination, Dr. Daphne believed that little Cosita may have been poisoned. She was not able to walk, falling with every step, and was constantly crying out. The Doctors put Cosita on an IV line, and gave her medication to help the symptoms, and another to help her relax and sleep. The little pup slept, but only for about half an hour before waking up and beginning to wail once again. Dr. Daphne knew that looking after Cosita would be an all-night event and explained this to the other volunteers. Lena, Blake and Alison were not swayed and wanted to do anything to help Cosita.

    In the end, Dr. Daphne and Sacha stayed in the clinic to sleep as near as possible to the little pup. Every time that Cosita would wake and cry out (which was almost every half hour), Dr. Daphne would go to her to comfort her until she would sleep again. From 6am onwards the next morning, Sacha stayed with Cosita ensuring that she felt comforted and loved. The attention was enough to keep the scared pup calm, and allow her the rest she would need to get better, and for the medication to take its effect.


    Cosita had improved throughout the night, and continued to improve that day. From 7:30am, each volunteer would take shifts staying with and comforting Cosita. By the end of the day, the little pup was well enough to be able to go home. After a long day and a long night, the team were exhausted, but relieved that they were able to save Cosita’s life.

    Help save more lives like that of Cosita. Become a monthly donor today.

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  10. Supporter Spotlight – Rene and Mayra

    This month, the Darwin Animal Doctors team would like to shine the supporter spotlight on two other amazing team members.

    Rene Heyer, founder of Nova Galapagos, along with Mayra Alvarez are the unsung heroes of the Darwin Animal Doctors Galapagos clinic. It is thanks to Rene and Mayra that every veterinarian and every volunteer is able to enter the islands and become part of the clinic, and that the clinic manages to open its doors every day.

    As every past volunteer would know; getting the correct permissions to enter the Galapagos Islands as a volunteer is quite a process. With over 50 volunteers a year entering one of the most protected areas on the planet to be part of the Darwin Animal Doctors’ clinic, this administrative nightmare falls on the shoulders of both Rene and Mayra. Not only securing the correct permissions for each volunteer, both Rene and Mayra make sure that all volunteers are welcomed, safe and have and enjoyable experience while staying in the clinic. Hosting the famous “patacones night” is just one example of the team comradery that they ensure lives consistently in the clinic.

    Rene and Mayra are also both staunch supporters of Humane Education. Mayra will often be found speaking to locals about the reasons behind spaying and neutering, and ensures that everyone leaves the clinic feeling fully informed and comfortable about the decision to sterilize. Rene is also a constant advocate, ensuring that the Darwin Animal Doctors team stay focused on the education of the next generation.

    And of course, both Rene and Mayra are animal lovers and protectors to a fault. With (currently) two dogs and eight cats between them – they have rescued a number of animals who have been dumped at the clinic; unwanted and uncared-for. Of course, those animals now have the most wonderful lives that a dog or cat could ask for!

    So, from volunteers, to the animals of the Galapagos, we all owe a big thank you to Rene and Mayra for the huge amount of effort they put in behind the scenes, to ensure that the Galapagos clinic is able to open its doors every day.


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