CORVALLIS, Ore - A group of veterinary students from Oregon State University will travel to Nicaragua this summer to conduct six days of free clinics on a rural island that has no regular veterinary care.
The contingent, members of the OSU chapter of the International Veterinary Students' Association, will pay their own way to spend the first week of August on Ometepe Island, home to an estimated 10,000 people and 50,000 animals.
The clinics include physical exams, deworming, vaccinations, spays, neuters and public health education.
The Ometepe residents rely on pigs, cows, donkeys, horses and chickens for food, transport and work. In addition, there is a large population of stray dogs and cats that can spread disease.
OSU students, under the supervision of volunteer veterinarians, spay and neuter hundreds of dogs and cats on Ometepe every summer. This is the 10th year of the program, and it's made a difference, said Sue Tornquist, the Lois Bates Acheson Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and a longtime volunteer on the trip.
"We now see many dogs that come to the clinic and only need preventive care, since so many have been spayed and neutered already," she said.
In addition to funding their own travel costs, students raise money to purchase veterinary supplies such as vaccines, needles, syringes, gauze and sutures. The total averages about $1,500 per student.
Anyone interested in helping to support the students can "adopt" a Nicaraguan animal for $20.
"In exchange, you will receive a photo and story about the animal that was in our care, including a description of the type of care provided for the animal," said Kristin Wineinger, co-chair of Oregon State's IVSA chapter.
For more information or to donate, visit http://stuorgs.oregonstate.edu/ivsa/donate.
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