Recognizing Our Volunteers

August 10, 2009

By Susan Monger, DVM

The sustainability and success of the HSVMA Rural Area Veterinary Services (HSVMA-RAVS) program rests with our volunteers who donate their time and skills to the benefit of many—people and animals alike.

Two volunteers in particular, Drs. David Turoff and Raul Casas, have donated countless personal hours and are truly integral to our equine program, which has provided care for horses and enhanced the education of so many owners in the rural communities we visit.

Standing out in the crowd

Dr. Turoff guides student
Dr. David Turoff coaches a veterinary student through a procedure on a horse.

Dr. Turoff first volunteered with HSVMA-RAVS in January 2001 with our program in the Peten region of Guatemala.

On that particular trip, there was no running water available at our work site or sleeping quarters. After five days of long hours in very hot and humid conditions, we were all relieved to finally have time to jump in a lake!

However, despite the physical difficulty of that trip, he was hooked, and continued to face challenges with us on subsequent trips—pulling buses out of the mud, searching for a flat bed to haul a broken-down van from the middle of nowhere, fixing many a flat tire, and encountering a few repeat episodes of no running water, as well as other memorable stories.

Nothing has interfered with Dr. Turoff's desire to continue to volunteer with HSVMA-RAVS or our ability to deliver quality care to remote areas where people depend on their horses to work and travel.

Fluent in Spanish, Dr. Turoff has volunteered two to three times a year since 2001, taking time away from his busy practice in Placerville, CA. He currently oversees our equine programs in Peru and Nicaragua.

A true testimony

Dr. Raul Casas first began volunteering while still a student at The University of Pennsylvania College of Veterinary Medicine. Throughout his academic career, Dr. Casas participated in seven field service clinics, both domestically and in Guatemala with Dr. Turoff.

Dr. Casas instructs group
Dr. Raul Casas instructs a group about horse health and care.

Upon graduation, he completed an equine internship at Reid and Associates in Loxahatchee, FL., where he is currently a staff veterinarian.

Dr. Casas is a testimony to the value of the clinical and cultural education HSVMA-RAVS provides to veterinary students, which encourages continued altruism throughout their professional careers.

A native of Puerto Rico, his language skills—in addition to his clinical skills—are a tremendous asset to our program. He currently volunteers with Dr. Turoff on our Nicaragua and Peru programs twice annually as well.

Both of these veterinarians are examples of the incredible dedication of our volunteers, which is critical to the continued growth and expansion of this program.

Our volunteers provide a breadth and depth of cultural and clinical experience, and in turn, the welfare of so many people is enhanced through the care provided to their horses.

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