San Pedro Animal Hospital – Our Journey

In San Pedro Animal Foundation News, San Pedro Animal Hospital News // No Comments

Two puppies spayed and neutered courtesy of the San Pedro Animal Foundation



Two of my patients this morning got me thinking about our little hospital – where we came from and where we are now. 

“Bebe” is 9 or 10 years old.  She is an adorable small shepherd mix, a “community dog” – looked after by several San Pedro residents.  At 8:30 last night two of her human guardians called my cell phone – she had something on her belly that was bleeding and would not stop.  They brought her to the clinic and at 9pm last night and we performed surgery to remove the pea-sized cancerous skin tumors on her belly which were the source of all the blood.  This morning she did a little happy dance and smiled for her owners contagiously when they came to pick her up.
 “Maggie” is a 13 year old dachshound who arrived this morning for her first glucose curve.  I diagnosed her as diabetic last week.  She was in rough shape.  She had eye infections, nasal discharge, vaginal discharge and a urinary infection, a cough, and had lost half her body weight.  Diabetes is easily overlooked in elderly animals.  The signs are vague, and are easy to misinterpret as normal signs of aging.  Luckily for Maggie the owners brought her just in time.  She has cataracts in both eyes and is blind, a common sequelae to diabetes, but other than that the owners report that she is a new dog.  She is happy again, and no longer “appears to be dying”, they told me.
Thinking about these patients this morning I realized that this is why San Pedro Animal Hospital exists.
In the beginning, I think I was like most veterinarians who have been practicing for more than a few years.  I was ready to stop taking orders, ready to go out on my own and practice the way I wanted to without having to ask permission for anything.  But I was also tired of seeing that segment of the population in San Pedro who wanted to do the most for their pets, and not being able to help them.  Often times the result was the pet died, much to the detriment of my own mental health and to the distress of the owners.  Being able to establish a clinic here where I can be confident that I can handle whatever walks in the door has brought me a lot of peace. 
I think that if I were at the end of my career this would be enough for me.  But I am actually smack in the middle of my career, and I know that I need to return to modern American veterinary medicine.  With this goal I have been exploring my options for San Pedro Animal Hospital.  Yesterday I spoke to an American veterinarian who has been a volunteer at a clinic in the Turks and Caicos for 20 years.  This clinic has received a lot of attention because it is run by 50 volunteer veterinarians, each of which donates 1-2 weeks of their time every year.  During our conversation he brought up many of the same problems that veterinary medicine has run into in San Pedro.  Revenue problems, despite the veterinarians working without even a salary.  Work permit problems.  Competition from a local SPCA.  It made me realize that San Pedro Animal Hospital’s challenges are not unique at all. 
Perhaps the biggest challenge for veterinary care on islands in developing countries is finding the resources to support both SPCA’s/humane societies and animal hospitals.  Both are needed in these small communities, but income for both is limited.
From my perspective, it is important to keep trying, for the Maggie’s and Bebe’s out there, and their families.  They are not in the majority, but there ARE pet owners here who don’t want to put their pet down just because she is sick and old, if something can be done to help her.
And that’s why San Pedro Animal Hospital is here.


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.