Darwin Animal Doctors


Category Archive: Monthly reports

  1. Goodbye Kate and Carmen!

    As of this last week, Carmen and Kate have been our lead veterinarians in the clinic. Carmen has run the clinic for a total of two years over a three-and-a-half-year period. Kate joined her for the past six months. They have left this clinic in good hands, with Ben Howitt. Before they took off, we asked them to give us a little interview about their experiences and their future plans.

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    What was your most impactful case during your time at the clinic?

    We’ve had a lot of interesting medical and surgical cases but the one that touched us, and the volunteers the most, was Frankie. She was brought to us after being hit by a car and abandoned.  She had a crushed paw and fractured pelvis and was close to death from the resulting infection. After her amputation surgery she stayed in the clinic for 6 weeks while her pelvis healed. We all got very attached to having her here in the clinic to cuddle and play with every day. She was adopted by a wonderful new family in Quito and we are so proud to be a part of her happy adoption story!

    To read about Frankie’s adoption story, click here!


    What was the best part of your experience in the Galapagos outside of the clinic?

    Diving! We both love to dive, so in our limited time away from the clinic we got in the water as much as we could. We were lucky enough to go on a dive cruise to Darwin and Wolf, small uninhabited northern islands. We go to see lots of beautiful creatures but our favorites were hammerhead sharks, manta rays, dolphins, orcas, and whalesharks!

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    Where are you going next?

    First, we are first going home to visit our family and friends. Then we will work over the summer: Carmen in South Africa at a Cheetah Park, and Kate in emergency medicine in the States. What we are most excited about is moving to Grenada, one of the Spice Islands in the Caribbean, in September to be the new head vets for the Grenada SPCA. We will get to continue with our mission of helping animals in underserved areas by providing the best veterinary care possible.


    Do you think you will come back to work with DAD?

    Who knows where life will take us next?? But we will always hold the DAD Clinic close in our hearts for the many happy memories we have here and most importantly, introducing us to each other!

    From everyone at DAD, we want to thank you, Carmen and Kate, for your hard work at the clinic. Your dedication was evident as you put in long hours, especially during the parvo-outbreak, and helped train many veterinarians and students that came through the clinic. You touched the lives of many animals and people that you encountered during your time in the Galapagos. It has been an honor to work alongside of you.  Good luck on your next adventures and enjoy your vacation! You deserve it!

  2. Frankie Found a Home!

    Frankie entered into our lives back in January. She had been found on the side of the road and was badly injured. Her back leg had been crushed in an accident and without treatment, became infected. Ros Cameron brought her into the clinic and the veterinarians at the clinic took one look at Frankie’s freckled face and knew they would do whatever they could to help.

    Dr. Carmen took her to surgery to remove the leg and we started her on antibiotics. She quickly became comfortable at the clinic and her infection subsided.

    Frankie lived with us at the clinic, and her true personality came out. She turned out to be a sweet playful girl who completely won our hearts.

    Frankie was part of our family. She even got to celebrate Kate’s birthday!!!

    Although we loved having her with us, we were actively looking for a permanent home for our girl. Jackie Rodriguez, a great friend of the clinic, came to visit Frankie daily and was the one who found Frankie’s future family. She even flew to Quito to meet them! We had a big send off for Frankie at the airport.

    Frankie is now with her forever home, with the Salazar-Mejia family. This is new mother, Jessica Mejia, father, Juan Salazar, her human siblings, and her dog-sister, Gala.


    She is happy, healthy, and loves to play at the dog park!

    We want to thank Ros Cameron, who brought Frankie into the clinic, all our veterinarians and volunteers who helped with Frankie’s care at the clinic, Jackie Rodriguez who was a great friend to Frankie and found her a home, and the Salazar-Mejia family, who opened their hearts and home to Frankie. 

    We also want to thank you, our supporters, who allow us to continue our work providing free veterinary care to those who need it most. Please consider making a contribution to Darwin Animal Doctors today!

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  3. Poor Little Mirri

    Mirri, a four month old kitten, suffered a tough week. A child had placed a hair tie around one of Mirri’s legs right before she went missing for three days. Upon her return, her owners noticed she could not walk on her front leg. Her blood supply had been cut off by the hair tie.

    They brough Mirri into Darwin Animal Doctors’ clinic. Our veterinarians did everything they could to save the paw, however the hair tie was on for too long. The paw had no blood flow and was severely infected. The best option for Mirri was to amputate.

    Our talented vets did an amazing job on the amputation, and Mirri returned later to remove her sutures. She is healing great and getting used to running around on her three legs.

    Consider contributing to Darwin Animal Doctors today so we can continue to treat animals, such as Mirri!!



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  4. DAD’s Work with Rayo de Luna

    From September 16, 2017 to October 2, 2017, Puerto Rico was drastically affected by Hurricane Maria, regarded the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since 2004. Over a year has passed, and although the news has moved on, Puerto Rico is far from “recovered.” The death toll still rises and a huge portion of the island is still without access to electricity or clean water. Most of the population that had the means to leave the country already has, leaving those who have no other options. Many of the locals, while thankful for the international relief effort, unfortunately lament that much of the effort has finished and, worse yet, has not prepared them at all for this year’s hurricane seasons or future disasters.

    Darwin Animal Doctors was brought to Puerto Rico by Harimau Conservation. DAD has been working with Harimau Conservation for over a year now in Sumatra. Our projects have included rebuilding schools, rebuilding communities, and bringing knowledge sharing programs to the Leuser Ecosystem. Harimau Conservation is a Puerto Rican group, made up of local Puerto Ricans, who have an innate desire to help disadvantaged communities in precious ecosystems, that resemble Puerto Rico. Harimau Conservation started a local initiative in Puerto Rico, Rayo de Luna, to help rebuild the shattered neighbors and infrastructure alongside with the local communities. Rayo de Luna understands the power of knowledge, and endeavors to give communities the training to take care of themselves and prepare for future climate change disasters.

    Where there are communities with no access to drinking water, Rayo de Luna has been building basic water towers for them. Where there is no electricity, Rayo de Luna has been building solar power infrastructure for local communities to have electricity.

    We approached Rayo de Luna, asking if our DAD programs could benefit their efforts to rebuild Puerto Rico.  The answer was a resounding YES!

    We decided to work with Rayo de Luna instead of any other larger international relief group, because Rayo de Luna was made up of locals, who were embedded in the local communities, who understood local needs, values, and concerns. Their efforts have been targeted to the long term good of all who live in Puerto Rico. We decided to combine Rayo de Luna and DAD’s efforts to further our common goals in Puerto Rico: to foster long term sustainability while helping to rebuild with a focus on education infrastructure.

    First, we are helping the locals rebuild a huge wildlife reserve in Morovis, which was used by the surrounding communities. This includes building a new ecology laboratory, tree nursery, and butterfly nursery to start repopulating the native flora and fauna and research capacity for the local communities.

    Second, we are rebuilding the education infrastructure in the communities around the wildlife reserve at Morovis. Not only are we helping rebuild these primary schools around Morovis, and giving them our sustainability curriculum, but we are also helping train them to use the wildlife reserve to increase their research, observation, and cooperative project skills.

    Piggy’s education and hands on conservation by children in Puerto Rico!

    To read more about the Morovis Wildlife Reserve, Las Cabachuelas click here 

    To read more about the School Rebuilding and Education Program, click here

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  5. Education and Sustainability in Puerto Rico

    Education and Sustainability Program

    We began rebuilding schools around Morovis, starting with three, then five, now we are negotiating possibly 12 more. With them using our curriculum while we all rebuilt.

    We do still focus a lot of the education on our sustainability curriculum, but we also make a lot of the focus on getting the kids outside, moving, learning about their world by exploring it and empathizing with the animals they see. And, gathering seeds from the reserve, planting seedlings with them in the new school tree nursery.

    Sustainability and Advanced Skills for Children:

    Within our programs, the chidlren are learning a TON! However, regardless of the individual lesson content, want them specifically to gain critical thinking and cooperative project skills. Critical thinking skills are essential for them to begin being able to tackle future challenges, such as future climate change disasters. We also focus on cooperative project skills, in order to teach the children to work with others whom they would not normally have paired up with. Through this, the children learn the value that everyone can contribute no matter how different.

    Ongoing Legacy

    Our project’s influence is only beginning, it seems. Like in Sumatra, for each school we reach, many more schools approach us asking for the program as well. And these teachers really understand the goal as well. They also share the goals of critical thinking skills growth, cooperative project growth, and general preparedness for an ever developing future. Because they know what to expect as well.

    Thank you for your ongoing support. Please consider contributing to Darwin Animal Doctors, so we can continue projects around the world.

    To read more about the Morovis Wildlife Reserve, Las Cabachuelas click here 

    To read about the overview of our projects in Puerto Rico, click here

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  6. Las Cabachuelas

    Morovis Wildlife Reserve, Las Cabachuelas:

    The wildlife reserve at Morovis, Las Cabachuelas, is a huge reserve in the center of Puerto Rico, with a network of large caves, forests, rock walls, and countless wildlife. Rayo de Luna and DAD are partnering with Proyecto Cabachuelas to rebuild the reserve and the sustainability it offers to Puerto Rican communities.


    To see more photos of Las Cabachuelas, click here: http://lascabachuelas.org/gallery.html

    After Hurricane Maria, much of the reserve was damaged, from downed trees to broken fence borders, to any scientific structures in it. The entrances to the reserve became disused as well.

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    Today, on the one year anniversary of the hurricane devastating Puerto Rico, we’re pleased to announce the launching of Piggy’s latest program: to rebuild communities in Puerto Rico, with a huge focus on long term sustainable education for the children growing up there. In partnership with the wonderful local Puerto Rican community leaders @joaquino_alonso and @glenisse, our first project will be to help the locals rebuild their wildlife reserve and education infrastructures at Morovis. The children in Piggy’s program will learn to teach conservation and train with local rangers, as we convert these disused playgrounds at the entrances of the wildlife reserve into children’s learning centers together. A huge thank you to @lushcharitypot and A Seed of Change for making it possible to begin working with communities in Puerto Rico! #reyodeluna #conservation #wildlife #humaneeducation #school #children

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    In addition to rebuilding the reserve, replanting trees and making tree nurseries, we needed to make the butterfly nursery and laboratory. As one of our goals is to work with communities, we wanted students to get the knowledge and experience, so they would build it.

    The rest of the reforestation would happen in the education portion of the project. To learn more, click here

    To read about the overview of our projects in Puerto Rico, click here


    Please consider making a contribution to Darwin Animal Doctors, so we can continue our work in Puerto Rico and around the world.



    Make sure to follow Proyecto Cabachuelas on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/proyectocabachuelas/?utm_source=ig_profile_share&igshid=g8u4re23dzsn&fbclid=IwAR1cXQzbRw5Lm0zXUPxmgaTarzypcclfdbhFGppOaZxygMaOZ7T7Q0jp9Ns 

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  7. Kasba’s a Survivor

    For those of you who don’t remember, Kasba was first brought to our clinic in October. She had lost her leg in an accident as a puppy, and what was left had gotten infected. Our veterinarians removed the entire limb to prevent pain and future infection. We also spayed her at the same time. She recovered very quickly and was back to running around on her three legs.

    This week, Kasba returned to the clinic, this time completely unable to walk. Her remaining hind limb had become hugely swollen overnight from the paw all the way to the hip and she was too painful to even stand up. Upon examination, we found that Kasba had a high fever. We took a sample of fluid from the leg, which showed she had a severe infection.

    With only 3 legs left, we had to act quickly save the leg. We did a surgery to remove a large amount of pus, placed a drain, and started Kasba on antibiotics. By the end of the day she was up and walking out of the clinic on her own! We are always happy to see our patients again but not when they are this sick. Stay well, Kasba, and we hope to see you for a healthy check-up soon!


    Please consider making a contribution to Darwin Animal Doctors, so we can continue to treat animals, such as Kasba!

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  8. Max’s Intoxication

    We met Max when he was brought into the clinic. He was having trouble breathing and his gums were turning blue. When we first examined him he was struggling so much that we were afraid we were going to lose him.

    We spoke with his owners and learned that Max had ingested an organophosphate poison that is common on the island. His owners were desperate to save him so attempted a home treatment they heard about: forcing Max to swallow oil and soap. Unfortunately this treatment is a myth and does not treat the poison. Unknown to the owners, by forcing Max to swallow the oil and soap, he got aspiration pneumonia which is why he was struggling to breathe so much.

    We gave Max the antidote for the poison and treated him with oxygen and antibiotics for his aspiration pneumonia. He responded well to therapy and was up wagging his tail the next day!

    ***If you believe your animal has injested poison, bring them directly to your local veterinarian. Your vet will have an injectable antidote. Home remedies are at times misleading and can cause harm to your animals. Symptoms of intoxication include excessive salivation, difficulty walking, and muscle tremors.***

    This case shows why we show up to the clinic every day: to save sick patients and to provide humane education to the community about when to seek veterinary care so we can keep patients like Max as healthy as possible! Please consider contributing to Darwin Animal Doctors, so we can continue our work.

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  9. Importance of Sterilization

    For years, pet owners have questioned whether to spay or neuter their pets. However, history and research show that there are many pros to having your pets spayed or neutered.

    What is Sterilization?

    “Spaying” is the surgical removal of the reproductive organs of female animals. “Neutering” is the surgical removal of male animal’s testicles. Both surgeries occur while the animals are under anesthesia. The veterinarian may keep your pet under observation for a couple hours to several days, depending on the animal’s age, size, health, and reaction to the anesthesia.

    Why should I sterilize my animals?

    Sterilization has many benefits, including improving the health of your animals, reducing undesirable behaviors, and preventing unwanted animals.

    First and foremost, sterilizing your pet will help them live a longer and healthier life. Spaying and neutering reduces, or can even eliminate, a number of health problems that are difficult and/or expensive to treat. By neutering your male animals, you help prevent testicular cancer and prostate problems. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors in your female animals.

    Sterilization can help change unwanted behavior from your animals. For example, some aggression problems in male animals can be avoided by early neutering. Your male dog will be less likely to roam away from your home, preventing potential accidents from cars or fights with other males. Unneutered dogs and cats will be less likely to mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. They may be less likely to mount other dogs, people, and objects.

    By spaying your female animals, they will no longer go into heat. This will help stop a number of undesirable behavior in both males and female animals. In females, it is common for them to urinate more frequently in attempt to attract males. They often will get blood on your furniture, exhibit nervous behavior, and attract unwanted males to your home. Males are capable of doing almost anything to find a mate, including finding creative ways of to escape from the house, or enter the area where the female is in heat.

    It should be noted that neutering your male dogs does not guarantee to resolve all behavioral problems. There is a correlation between testosterone levels and certain undesirable behaviors, such as aggression. However, the surgery only reduces the amount of testosterone in your dog’s system; it does not eliminate the hormone completely. Further, neutering will not reduce or eliminate learned or habitual behaviors. The impact of the sterilization largely depends on your animal’s individual personality, history, and physiology.

    Finally, the impact of sterilizing your pets goes much further than your home. Spaying and neutering your individual pets helps your community by preventing the birth of unwanted animals. Communities and animal shelters spend millions of dollars to control unwanted dogs. Shelters are overburdened with animals, and some shelters euthanize their dogs after a certain time period to allow for more. Stray dogs and cats can cause issues in your neighborhood by getting into trash, spreading diseases, and displaying potentially aggressive behavior.

    The cost of your pet’s sterilization surgery is a lot less than having to care for a litter. Sterilization also costs much less than the cost of potential treatments from health complications in the future!

    Consider this: One pair of un-sterilized cats, together with their offspring, can result in 420,000 kittens in seven years. One pair of un-sterilized dogs, with their offspring, can result in 4,372 puppies in the same time frame.

    When should I spay/neuter my pets?

    For dogs: Typically, owners sterilize their pups between six to nine months. However, puppies as young as eight weeks old can be neutered as long as they are healthy. Dogs can be sterilized as adults as well, although there may be more risk for post-operative complications in older dogs.

    For cats: It is generally considered safe for kittens as young as eight weeks old to be spayed or neutered. It is advisable to sterilize your cats before they are five months old, but adult cats can also undergo the surgery.

    Consult with your veterinarian about the best time to spay or neuter your pet. Each animal is different and will require a specific treatment plan.  Your veterinarian will be glad to answer any questions you may have about spay or neuter procedures, as well as help you determine the best age at which you should sterilize your dog.

    We hope this makes your decision whether or not to spay or neuter your pets much easier!

    Help us provide free spay and neuter surgeries around the world by contributing to Darwin Animal Doctors.

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  10. Negro’s Adventure

    Negro, a young black cat, went missing for 4 days. When he returned home, his owwners were so happy to see him, but immediately worried when noticed that Negro was dragging his front leg. They thought that he might have broken it on his great adventure, so they brought Negro into the clinic for an evaluation.

    Upon examination, we could feel that the bones were not broken but instead Negro’s neurological function to the front leg was severely damaged. This is due to traumatic stretching and tearing of a large bundle of nerves called the brachial plexus that supply the front leg. Luckily, this injury does not require surgery and with rest alone, Negro could regain some, if not all of the function back in his front leg.

    Unfortunately, Negro did not completely avoid surgery. During the exam, we also found a large bulge on his side. The traumatic event that damaged his leg also caused a rip in his body wall so that his intestines were sitting under his skin! Dr. Carmen performed surgery and put the intestines back into his abdomen and sutured the hole closed.

    Negro needed another surgery that night. His jaw was fractured at the very front, called a mandibular symphysis fracture. Dr. Carmen wired the jaw back together to stabilize it for healing.

    The wire will be removed in 6 weeks and then Negro will be ready for adventures again, but from now on he should stay in the house to keep out of trouble! He only has six lives left!

     Consider contributing to Darwin Animal Doctors so we can continue to treat animals such as Negro.

    Read about more stories on our blog!

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