CORVALLIS, Ore. - A team of Oregon State University students will visit the island of Ometepe off Nicaragua Sept. 8-22 to volunteer much-needed veterinary medicine services for the island livestock, food animals and pets.

The 19 students from OSU's College of Veterinary Medicine will also disseminate information to villagers about animal wellness and the prevention of zoonotic diseases, or those that can be transferred between humans and animals. The trip is being coordinated by the International Veterinary Student Association at OSU.

Four veterinarians also will go on the trip to supervise and assist the students - Erwin Pearson, Marianne Mackey, Hernan Montilla and Richard Bachman.

The student group is raising funds for the trip, which they pay for themselves through sponsorships. One of their fundraising efforts is an adopt-a-dog program, through which American donors can help care for a Nicaraguan dog for $20. One of the students on the trip will send a photo and story about the animal and the care it was provided. For more information, visit the group's website at

"Dog over-population has been a problem on the island, which can be detrimental to native wildlife," said Julia Mulvaney, an officer for the International Veterinary Student Association. "It also can lead to an increase in the number of poorly cared for, sick animals. Many of these dogs have never been examined by a veterinarian, or even received basic health care.

"And that can lead to reservoirs of diseases and parasites that can be transmitted to humans as well," Mulvaney added.

The island has no veterinarians, so animals routinely lack even the most basic care. The OSU students are acquiring all of the supplies for the trip, including vaccines, medications, gauze, bandages, sutures, needles and other supplies, as well as paying their own way for the trip, which costs an estimated $1,500 per person.

During the trip, they will hold eight days of clinics, where under the supervision of a veterinarian, they will perform examinations, conduct spays and neuters, treat minor conditions and hold educational seminars. In addition to treating dogs, the students and volunteer veterinarians will treat the working horses of the island, where there are few cars and fewer roads.

They also will give wellness care and provide other treatments to the island's food animals.

"As a group, we'll examine and treat more than 300 dogs, cows, pigs and horses - and hopefully make the island a healthier place for everyone," Mulvaney said.

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