The following are required for participation in a Darwin Animal Doctors (DAD) campaign:
An OPEN MIND – Something will not go as planned! DAD does its best to plan every part of a campaign; however, we are working in a foreign country with a different culture. Sometimes plans change and our volunteers need to be flexible and adaptable.
TEAM WORK – Our teams consist of veterinary professionals and volunteers from all over the world, so be prepared to work hard and make friends!
DEDICATION – We work long hours. On clinic days, plan for a 12 – 14 hour work day, with or without. We take lunch and breaks when we can, and rely on our teammates to ensure consistent animal care. The projects are hard work, long hours, in very hot conditions and often in very basic surroundings. Our campaigns are not for everyone, you need to be totally 100% committed to the animals.
INDEPENDENCE – Volunteers should be independent; volunteers cover their own flights, accommodations and other needs. Where possible (because of our good relations on the islands) we can get discounts quite easily and go to places that no other tourist visits.
A PASSPORT – Ecuador is a foreign country. Galápagos is a foreign country times 10! If you have not traveled much, it does not mean that you cannot participate. We just ask that you have an open mind and understand that it will be a culture shock, but at the same time be expected to perform your tasks.
A SPANISH dictionary– If you do not speak Spanish we advise that you practice before you come as you will have a much more enriching experience in the communities where we work.
An ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT – If you have never traveled to a foreign country, expect it to be different. Having an open mind and a sense of adventure will help you enjoy the new foods, local customs, housing and travel arrangements and clinic experience. Volunteers with an open mind and positive attitude about this look forward to the adventure of living and working in a foreign country.
PROFESSIONALISM – You are representing Darwin Animal Doctors. We expect professional, hard- working, ethical and open minded volunteers. Unprofessional conduct will not be tolerated and may cause dismissal from a campaign and/or loss of future campaign privileges.
RESPECT – There are other expectations. We believe this should go without saying but we don’t want to leave anything to chance – we expect all of our volunteers to respect local cultures and customs.
LOVE of ANIMALS – Animal care always comes first. This can mean staying up late to monitor a surgical patient, or making early morning house calls to treat a sick pet. Working conditions are…different. Expect the clinic conditions to be hot, sometimes dirty, and with less than perfect lighting. Supplies are limited as well, and we make every effort to conserve resources. We sterilize all cats and dogs, with or without guardians. We use gas and injectable anesthesia where available. Our standard of care is equal to that of the US, even if the surgery is performed outside the clinic.
DAD is a very dedicated group of people who work hard to help the animals and people of Galápagos. We work in an amazing location and experience the beauty, the animals and extraordinary kindness of the island communities. But… we also work without complaint when there is no electricity, no water, often missing meals, but when we feel like we want to quit….we keep going for the animals.
You will probably come home different than when you left, and before the plane even touches the ground, you’ll find yourself saying, “When do we go back?”
What does it cost to volunteer with DAD?
Our volunteer fee is $3oo for the first 3 weeks for veterinary students and technicians. There will be an additional $50 fee for each successive week vet students and techs stay in the Galapagos. Veterinarians will have their volunteer fee covered by DAD. This fee covers the cost of housing and utilities at the clinic as well as any administrative costs associated with bringing volunteers onto Galapagos Islands. You are responsible for the cost of your airfare and personal expenses like food, tourism, and souvenirs.
What is the housing like?
The DAD clinic on Santa Cruz has volunteer housing on the second floor. We have very basic accommodations with shared bedrooms with bunk beds. We provide the sheets; however the volunteer is responsible for other personal items like towel and basic toiletries. Like most houses in Galapagos, we do not have hot water in the shower (but after a long day of volunteering, we know you won’t miss it!) There is a shared kitchen in the clinic that is open to all volunteers as well.
Do I need any vaccines before I go?
We recommend always checking with your doctor before international travel. Though there has never been a documented case of rabies on the islands, rabies vaccines are strongly recommended for DAD volunteers because of the unknown vaccine status of our patients.
Do you treat native animals as well as cats and dogs?
Our main clinic is set up to treat invasive species (cats and dogs), but we do occasionally partner with the National Park to treat the endemic animals. We also do field calls to treat horses and donkeys. When working with DAD you should expect more than 90% of your time to be spent working with cats and dogs.
How is it possible that there are cats and dogs on Galapagos Islands? Do humans live there?
Because the Galapagos Islands is a very popular tourist location, there are people living on the Islands to support this industry. Four islands – Santa Cruz, Isabela, San Cristobal, and Floreana – are inhabited by humans, and DAD has provided veterinary care to animals on all of these islands. Galapagos has a population of 30,000 people total, with a constantly growing domestic animal population. Our clinic is located on Santa Cruz, the most populated island.
How did the cats and dogs get onto the Galapagos Islands?
Human population, has unfortunately, brought dogs and cats with it. Though it is illegal to bring these species onto the Galapagos Islands, there is a large smuggling and breeding problem. Part of our education campaign is aimed at raising awareness of the problems associated with invasive species and to promote humane population control by encouraging spaying and neutering.
I work for a human hospital/dentist/pharmacy, can you take human supplies?
Yes, many human medications and medical supplies are the same as veterinary ones. If you are unsure about an item, please contact Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can let you know if we can use it.
Do you have reference books or other resources at the clinic?
We have a small library of donated reference books on veterinary practice, pharmacology, clinical pathology, and other topics. We also have a book on veterinary spanish and dictionaries available. There is internet access at the clinic, and even though it can be quite slow, we are able to log onto VIN, email colleagues, etc.
- Airfare: $800-1400 (+/- miles); check flyforgood.com
- Volunteer fee: $300/3 weeks, $50 each additional week (covers housing, utilities, administrative costs, etc); note: waived for vets
- National park entry fee: $10 for DAD volunteers (is normally $100 for tourists)
- Boat and taxi to/from airport: $6 if share; $15-20 alone
- Food: $2-7 per meal (depends on if cook at home, go out, etc)