HSVMA’s “Lucky” Return to El Salvador

May 17, 2008

By Susan Monger, DVM

Building on success is an important strategy for HSVMA Rural Area Veterinary Services (HSVMA-RAVS), and recent clinics in El Salvador are a case in point.

HSVMA-RAVS, in conjunction with Humane Society International, conducted clinics in El Salvador in 2004 and 2005, working in the small villages near Parque El Imposible, which is about a three hour drive from San Salvador.

Dr. Claudia Molina, a graduate of the University of San Salvador College of Veterinary Medicine, was our contact, and upon completion of our work near El Imposible in 2005, she asked us to make a presentation to the university. She wanted us to demonstrate our approach to animal welfare and our anesthetic and surgical techniques.

Plans were made to return to the university for a more in-depth clinic. It took three years to acquire all the permits, but an HSVMA-RAVS team finally returned to conduct a week-long course in May 2008.

A "Lucky" day

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Lucky and his owner with HSVMA-RAVS vet Lyndsey Larson in San Salvador.
Susan Monger/HSVMA

The first day of the course, as the students and faculty assembled for the first lecture, a veterinary student brought in his dog, ironically named Lucky, who had been hit by a car.

Lucky had severe internal bruising, obvious head trauma with neurological damage and a broken leg. I joined HSVMA-RAVS staff veterinarian Jennifer Scarlett, volunteer veterinarian Lyndsey Larson and registered veterinary technicians Melina Stambolis and Veronica Acosta in treating Lucky.

He received intensive care and treatment over the course of the week and slowly improved. When we returned Lucky to his owner, the dog’s pain was under control and his leg was splinted.

Veterinarians at the university agreed to monitor his recovery. When we got back to our hotel on our last night before leaving El Salvador, Lucky’s owner came by to leave us all pictures of Lucky at home with his family.

Wrapping up

Over the course of the clinic, we conducted 20 surgeries and held exam demonstrations and courses in knot-tying, suturing, intravenous catheter placement and sterile gloving technique. Lectures covered physical exams, pain management, anesthesia and surgical and sterile technique.

Our dedication to the care and well being of Lucky set the tone for the week and laid the groundwork for a long-lasting relationship with the students and faculty of the university.

HSVMA-RAVS plans a return visit in November to further this relationship—and, of course, check on Lucky.

Dr. Susan Monger is the Director of HSVMA-RAVS, International Program.