A group of veterinary students and veterinarians from Colorado State University will be traveling to Costa Rica to provide a free vaccination, parasite control and spay and neuter clinic for dogs and cats. The volunteer trip is aimed at reducing the number of homeless animals in the country and improving the quality of life for pets. The volunteers will run a temporary clinic in Costa Rica January 4-10, 2009.
Many dogs and cats in the country are not fixed, and pet overpopulation leads to animal starvation, disease and other issues including a higher incidence of animal disease that contributes directly to human disease.
The group is sponsored by VIDAS – Veterinarios Internacionales Dedicados a la Salud Animal in Spanish, or International Veterinarians Dedicated to Animal Health. VIDAS was started by six veterinarians when they were students at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in 2002 along with two community veterinarians. The group previously traveled to Mexico to provide clinics. The current group of volunteers from Colorado State wanted to expand the non-profit’s reach into Costa Rica.
The Costa Rica volunteers hope to reach about 150 animals, both strays and those owned or adopted by local residents in the town of San Isidro. In addition to providing medical care, the veterinarians plan to conduct daily educational talks with the local community and children about the importance of spaying and neutering pets, treating animals with respect and the importance of vaccinations and parasite control.
The volunteers, who are paying for their own travel and will stay with host families to reduce the costs of the trip, are seeking donations to pay for medicine and supplies for the clinic. About $4,000 is needed to cover expenses.
Animals at the clinic will be spayed or neutered and receive vaccinations for rabies; local diseases such as feline leukemia virus, canine distemper and canine parvovirus; and parasitic control medicine.
The group is accepting monetary donations through a donation form on the VIDAS Web site at www.vidas.org or mailed to VIDAS Costa Rica, PO Box 20246, Boulder, CO 80308-3246. Donations must be marked for the Costa Rica trip to be applied to the expenses. An animal can be sponsored for $100.
In addition to accepting money, the group also is asking for donations of collars and leashes; many pet owners use wire, shirt hangers, rope or other objects as collars. Many makeshift collars are so tight they must be surgically removed at the clinic because they’ve grown into the animal’s skin. Collars and leashes can be dropped off 24 hours per day at a drop box in the small animal clinic at the Colorado State University James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, 300 W. Drake Road. Monetary donations should be mailed or made via the website.