Meet Sra Luisa. She wants a permanent Veterinarian in Todos Santos.

Sra Luisa lives in Los Pablos which is a suburb of Todos Santos, Guatemala.  She is 54 years of age, and currently supports her three children as well as her son’s two children alone. Sra Luisa has two pigs, one which she intends to sell and one which will, one day, will feed her family. She has 34 chickens which she uses as a source of food as well as sells the eggs for money. She works as a midwife and also sews traditional clothing to support her family.

Sra Luisa has two dogs Supercon and Ducky, as well as a cat Dulce. Dulce means sweet in Spanish. Both of her dogs have been sterilized by Veterinarians without Borders. She used to have another dog but was forced to poison it. Her dog escaped from her yard, snuck into her neighbour’s house and stole some food. Her neighbour told her to “get rid of her dog” or he would report her to the municipality and have her put in jail. In Todos Santos, when hungry dogs are caught stealing the municipality will force owners to kill their dog. Since there is no veterinary clinic or humane way to euthanize animals in Todos Santos, people in the community are often forced to poison them with strychnine. When rabies was more common, people would throw sticks and stones at the dogs until they died.

Sra Luisa’s biggest concern in her town before Veterinarians without Borders came to work in 2008, was that she feared letting her children walk freely outside. People used to carry stones or sticks with nails in them to beat the dogs off them while walking the streets. Rabies was frequently reported in dogs in the area.

What Sra Luisa wants the most is for a permanent veterinarian to be situated in Todos Santos. She love’s the work Veterinarians without Borders does in her community and is grateful for it. She appreciates that the activities are directed toward public health as well as the animals. She will continue to support Veterinarians without Borders in her community and values their presence in Todos Santos.

In February 2014, Vets without Borders and 22 volunteers will return to continue working with Todos Santos.

To learn more about Vets without Borders work in Todos Santos, please visit our website. To support our work with Sra. Luisa and others from her community, please consider donating. To receive a tax receipt, please donate through our website. To receive some great perks, please donate through indiegogo.


My last week in Canada / Mi última semana en Canadá (by Dr. Heidi Sandoval de Argüello)

En Español abajo

My last week in Allandale Veterinary Hospital went by really fast, suddenly it was time to pack and say goodbye. I hardly felt the last days went through; it was an intense week with a lot of work and some interesting cases. I was able to see a blood transfusion; I was able to see another endoscopy to do a biopsy of duodenum and stomach tissue. There were some orthopedics surgeries as well and a rescued duckling came in. I was able to participate in the Client Education Seminar on Pet Food, Presented by Dr. Van Delst of Hills Pet Nutrition with the collaboration of Allandale Veterinary Hospital. The whole experienced for me was really rewarding personal and professionally. I learned a lot. I go back to Guatemala with the intention of being able to put in practice all the knowledge and techniques learned. I want to thank VWB-Canada, the staff of Allandale Veterinary Hospital and specially Dr. Patricia Lechten for this opportunity. I am grateful to have had the experience to spend time though VWB-Canada in Allandale Veterinary Hospital. I also want to thank my family, husband and kids, without their support and patience I could not have been able to do this. I really hope I can continue collaborate with VWB-Canada in a near future.


Mi última semana en Allandale Veterinary Hospital se me paso muy rápido, cuando sentí, ya era hora de empacar y decir adiós. Los últimos días ni los sentí, fue una semana intensa de mucho trabajo y algunos casos interesantes, ver una transfucción sanguínea, presenciar de nuevo una endoscopia y biopsia de duodeno y estómago. Algunas otras cirugías ortopédicas y hasta un patito huérfano rescatado. También pude participar en el Client Education Seminar on Pet Food, Presentado by Dr. Van Delst of Hill’s Pet Nutrition con la colaboración del Allandale Veterinary Hospital. Toda la experiencia para mí fue de mucha satisfacción personal y profesional. Aprendí muchísimo. Regreso a Guatemala con el propósito de poder poner en práctica los conocimientos y técnicas aprendidas. Agradezco públicamente a VWB-Canadá por haberme permitido tener esta gran oportunidad, también agradezco muchísimo a todo el personal de Allandale Veterinary Hospital en especial a la Dra. Patricia Lechten y también agradezco muchísimo a mi familia mi esposo e hijos que sin su apoyo y paciencia esta experiencia no lo hubiera logrado realizar. Espero poder continuar colaborando con VWB-Canadá.

Dr. Sandoval visits the Ontario Veterinary College – Dra. Sandoval visita la facultad de medicina veterinaria en Ontario

En Español abajo

On thursday may 9th, I met  with Adam Little, at the Ontario Veterinary College, at the University of Guelph. He gave me a tour of the college. We where able to walk and see must of all the facilities, like some class rooms, Hospital of small and large animals respectively.
The entire  college is beautiful, the old buildings, are so gorgeous.  We walk through Hill’s Pet Nutrition Primary Healthcare Center and the Animal Cancer Center. Both facilities are brand new, and the main purpose is to be able to provide better health services to animals, and develop new treatments.
I am really pleased that I got the opportunity to have this tour, is an amazing place.

El dia Jueves 9 de mayo, me reuní con Adam Little, en la Facultad de Veterinaria de Ontario en la Universidad de Guelph, para poder conocer las instalaciones de dicha institución. Pudimos recorrer buena parte de las instalaciones, como el Hospital de pequeñas  y grandes especies, respectivamente.
Toda la facultad es muy bonita, los edificios antiguos son bellísimos.
Pudimos conocer también las instalaciones  de Hill’s Pet Nutrition Primary Healthcare Center and the Animal Cancer Center, ambos centros recién empezaron a brindar sus servicios, con el propósito de poder brindar mejores tratamientos para todo tipo de animal, así como desarrollar e implementar nuevos tratamientos.
Me siento muy complacida de haber podido realizar esta visita, toda la facultad es espectacular.

Un día en una clínica de emergencia en Canadá/A day at an emergency clinic in Canada

On sunday, I spent the whole day, from 9am-6pm at the Huronia Veterinary Emergency Clinic. This clinic gives emergency services in the area. This was a long weekend, sunday was really busy. Here are some pictures of some of the patients that came in. The first picture is from a dog that was bitten by two dogs, the second pictures is a dog that was playing in the woods and cut is paw and the third pictures is a puppy that was hit by a car and broke his knee.

El día domingo fui a pasar todo el día a la clínica de Emergencias Huronia, esta clínica le brinda servicios de emergencia a el área. El día domingo, habían muchos pacientes, ya que era un fin de semana largo. Les comparto fotografías de algunos de los pacientes,
la primera es de un perro que fue mordido por otros dos perros, la segunda fotografía es de un perro que estaba jugando en el bosque y se corto su pata y la tercera es de un cacharro que fue atropellado y sufrió una fractura de la rodilla.




Diving into a Canadian clinic – straight from Guatemala

En Español más abajo


The last past  few days at the clinic had been truly interesting. I have been was able to see how a Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA) and Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) surgeries are done.  On Monday I was able to see a removal of three lumps on a dog, the three of them where lipomas, the most common tumor in large breed dogs.  Tuesday was a very long day, 12 hours of continued work. Definitely I was able to see a lot of fascinating cases, there were two intoxicated pets, a dog that ingested pills, and a cat that ate some rodonticide. A rat came in with lice, usually rats area not consider as pets in my home country. I was able to perform a spay on a dog. A doctor with special interested in radiology came in to perform a biopsy on a dog that has a tumor in this rectum, he took the tissue example guided with the ultrasound, and we where able to drain some of the liquid from the mass. We are waiting on the biopsy results.

Los ultimos dias en la clinica has sido my interesantes.  Pude ver como se lleva a cabo una cirugia de Avance de la Tuberosidad Tibial para el tratamiento de la insuficiencia del ligamento cruzado anterior (TTA) y Osteotomia nivelada del plato tibial (TPLO).  El dia lunes pude precenciar la remocion de tres lipomas en un perro, el lipoma es el tumor mas comun en perros de razas grandes. El dia martes fue un dia muy largo, 12 horas de trabajo. Definitivamente pude ver varios casos fascinantes.  Dos pacientes intoxicados, un perro que tomo muchas pastillas y un gato que comio veneno para ratas.  Llego una rata como paciente, en mi pais las ratas no son consideradas mascotas.  Realice una castracion de una perra. Se llevo a cabo una toma de una biopsia de una masa ubicada en el recto de un perro, la muestra se pudo obtener con la ayuda del ultrasonido, estamos a la esperamos los resultados del laboratorio.

Drs. Heidi Sandoval (from Guatemala) and Patricia Lechten, appear on a Canadian TV show speaking about the work Veterinarians without Borders-Canada does in Guatemala.

On tuesday night Dr. Lechten and my self, where invited to the Animal Housecalls TV show. To talk about the visit to Guatemala made with Veterinarians Without Borders and Allandale Veterinary Hospital staff.
We got the chance to talk about the neuters and sprays made and the rabies vaccination.

Link to watch the show: May 7, part 3

El martes por la noche, la Dra. Lechten y yo, fuimos invitadas al programa de television Animal Housecalls. Para hablar acerca de la visita hecha a Guatemala por parte de Veterinarios Sin Fronteras y personal del Hospital Veterinario Allandale (Canada). Pudimos compartir la experiencia de haber castrado a perros machos y hembras y haber realizado vacunacion antirabica.

Link para el ver el 7 de Mayo 3era parte.

Dr. Sandoval arrives safe and sound in Canada/ Dra. Sandoval llega sana y salva a Canadá

First Day at Allandale Veterinary Hospital:
Today was an exciting day, my first full day at the clinic. It was a slow day, so I got a chance to see how they run some lab test like preanesthesia, heart worm test, hematology test, etc.
Tomorrow will join Dr. Lechten on an Tv apperance, on the Animal Housecalls show.

Primer día en Allandale Veterinary Hospital:
Hoy fue un día emocionante, era mi primer día completo en el hospital.
No hubieron muchos pacientes, así que pude ver como llevan a cabo algunas pruebas de laboratorio, como exámenes preanestesicos, toma de muestra para verificar la presencia del parasito de corazón en perros, hematológicas, etc.
El dia de mañana acompañare a la Dra. Lechten en un programa de televisión.

The beauty of volunteering and being bilingual

This is the first blog from one of the Guatemalan veterinarians who volunteered with Veterinarian without Borders-Canada in Todos Santos, on Feb 2013. During that time, she made a connection with the people from Allandale Veterinary Hospital, and as a result she was invited to go to Canada for a one-month practicum.
With the help of Allandale Veterinary Hospital and Veterinarians without Borders-Canada, Dr. Heidi Sandoval was able to make her long-standing dream into a reality. Here is her first blog…

“It is 4:15 am and I just arrived at La Aurora International Airport. Just left my 2 boys and husband about 20 minutes ago. I will see them in 34 days.
Today I fly to Toronto, Canada, where Dr. Lechten will host me at her clinic, Allandale Veterinary Hospital for a month.
Definitely this will be a challenge for me and a great opportunity to learn and receive training.
After a 14 hour trip I arrived at Toronto, will meet tomorrow with Dr. Lechten”.
Heidi Sandoval



Guatemala seen through Dr. Lechten’s eyes….

It has been a few weeks since we left Todos Santos, Guatemala.  It was a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to go back next year.  Natalie and Melissa did a great job talking about our day to day experiences, so I am going to use my blog to just give some general observations.

Canadian and Guatemalan doctors working for a common cause, in Todos Santos, Guatemala
Todos Santos is a beautiful village.  It is surrounded by mountains which are covered in plots used for farming.  We were told that the people can be somewhat suspicious of strangers.  However, overall we found everyone to be very open and welcoming.  Despite the language barrier, we were able to make a connection with many people.  The villagers that brought their pets for care were grateful to be able to provide their pets with surgery and/or vaccines.  The pets may not have been cared for in the same way that many of our pets are, but they were absolutely loved.  There were people that walked substantial distances while leading their dogs, carrying their cats in bags, corralling small children and carrying babies on their backs.  These people then filled out paperwork and patiently waited their turn.  Rabies vaccines were given on a first come, first serve basis.  Surgeries were by appointment, but that still didn’t eliminate waiting.  Since many people had walked a fair distance with their dog for surgery, they watched the surgery, and then waited while their pet recovered enough to be able to walk home.  For many people this meant spending the entire day.  And yet, there was never a complaint.  Instead it was a joyous atmosphere – children playing, people chatting, everyone milling about and watching surgery.  Many people stopped by simply to see what was going on.  School children in particular enjoyed the opportunity to watch surgery.
A proud owner with his two dogs
There were several dogs that had been coming for years – Junior the Dalmatian, Terry the Rottweiller.  They were well cared for and the owners were quite proud of their pets.  There were a few dogs and cats that were thin, but the owners were quite open to discussions of how to provide better care for their pets.  In most cases, the pets eat what the owners do – tortillas, potatoes, a bit of meat.  Dogs and cats do not really provide any meaningful benefit to their families other than companionship.  And yet, people who have very little themselves share with their dogs and cats.  That is obviously a sign of how much they love their pets.

We provided new collars and leashes to all dogs that had surgery.  Unfortunately we did not have enough to provide collars for the vaccine patients.  Collars are very important as many dogs run free.  Dogs and cats without collars are thought to be strays so are often poisoned. We are planning to have a collar/leash drive prior to next year’s trip in the hopes that we can provide every pet that visits with at least a new collar.
We worked hard and lived simply while we were in Todos Santos.  It was a good reminder to be grateful for everything we have.  Our rooms were cold at night as Guatemalans (even in larger cities) generally do not heat their homes.  Our showers were in a shared washroom and were often chilly.  And our meals were eaten outside on a rooftop terrace (sounds romantic, but is actually quite cold at 7 in the morning or 8 at night).  However, we got to come home to comfy houses with hot showers.  The food we had while in Todos Santos was delicious.  We ate three healthy meals per day and didn’t overeat as we tend to do at home. Again, a good lesson that I wish I was better at sticking to.

Overall I can’t say enough about our experience with Veterinarians Without Borders, the new friends we made, the people of Todos Santos and the animals we helped.  I feel very blessed that I was able to contribute to improving the lives of people and their pets.  The visits to Todos Santos have a tremendous impact.  The incidence of rabies in animals and people is being reduced, the number of strays is being reduced and pets are healthier.  I can’t wait to go again next year and hopefully we can do even more!

-Dr. Patricia Lechten


Melissa from Allandale Veterinary Hospital tells her experience about Guatemala

Day 5… a blog from Melissa
Landing in Guatemala City airport was what I expected. Small customs area and 2
old X-ray machines for your luggage. Customs was good,  they only opened one tote
(out of six) and did not have any problems with what we were bringing into their country.
So that was the start of our journey. We needed to head to Todos Santos, as this is the town where we would be working. We squished 8 people ( 9 if you count our driver),a huge wooden box, ( carrying the autoclave) our 7 totes and all of our hiking bags and off we went. Now Todos Santos is not far in Kilometers, however it is a 8 hour trip, as all the roads are winding and very steep. The Guatemalan’s are very aggressive drivers, there were a few times that I thought we may go over the mountain’s edge! We arrived at night and was met by veterinarian (who is a part of Vets Without Borders) and she showed us to our hotel. The conditions are poor, our hotel is more like a hostel. There were 3 double beds, with futon mattress on plywood and one old wickety desk, covered with cement walls. Very little bugs here, and have not seen any bed bugs, so it could be worse. Our shower is electric, and does not get warm, let alone hot, so we are definitely getting cold showers. We get up each morning at 6:30 am and head to a house where these ladies feed us breakfast. They also bring lunch to us and we return back to their house for dinner. The food has been pretty delicious, chicken, beef and banana pancakes, mmmm. We head over to the auditorium for a start to the day.
After a cold night, we waited patiently for good Guatemalan coffe before saying our first words


People walk for miles to get their pets vaccinated, or spayed and neutered. For the most part these owners love their pets, and the pets love their owners. Their conditions are poor, under-weight, infested in fleas and filthy. Vaccines go on all day and we do surgeries in the morning so they are awake to go home at 5 when we close the doors till the next day. We definitely have language barrier as they speak two languages, Spanish and MAM. . The surgeries are tricky as there is only limited drugs for anesthetic and no oxygen, but everything has been going well. I am excited to say we have spayed and neutered 52 dogs at this point and vaccinated 273 dogs and cats. We do have one more day of vaccines and surgeries tomorrow, but then ending Saturday with inventory for Vets Without Borders trip in 2014. The trip has been a amazing experience so far.
Kids love their pets