Andrés Carrillo: “We need animals and animals need us”

by Sarah Clark

At the end of our campaign week in Todos Santos we sat down again with local pAndrés 4ara-veterinarian Andrés Carrillo to hear about how everything was going after his Dogs Trust International training in Huehuetenango (Huehue) the week before. Andrés jumped in enthusiastically by saying, “I feel really good! At the beginning I was really tense because I had to learn a lot of new things, and they were going to be behind me supervising. But everything went really well!” He continued, “I feel more than content, I have more trust in myself, knowing that everything is possible, and I have to move forward… When the surgeries finished I felt very happy when everything turned out well.”

Andrés had plenty of opportunity in Todos Santos to apply the new skills he learned in Huehue. During the 5-day campaign he assisted with humane animal restraint, preparing the animals for surgery, assisting the surgeons during spay/neuter procedures, and caring for the animals in recovery. Andres added that he also learned new techniques — “small things that are important not to forget” — like tattooing the animals’ ears after they’ve been sterilized, or how to properly administer Andrés 1Revolution (a medicine against heart worms, fleas and mites). Andrés highlighted a specific personal success story: he had never placed a catheter in a cat before, but he kept practicing under his teachers’ supervision and then on the last day of the campaign he placed 3 or 4 catheters! Andrés explained, “The skin of the cat is thinner and the vein moves so you have to be very careful… So what for me was difficult, at the moment of doing it everything turned out well! I failed the first time but then I learned how to do it.”

The guidance and supervision of Melissa Payne from Allandale Veterinary Clinic, both in Huehue and in Todos Santos, was invaluable to Andrés. In his words, “Melissa was supporting me a ton, all the time. When I failed she kept telling me, ‘You can do it!’ and she always was behind me. She was a great help to me. She knew how to keep an eye out for me. I’m very grateful to her because she’s the type of person that wants to help.” Andrés also really loved working with the team in Todos Santos and he explained: “Generally I love to work in a team. I have a football team, I’m a part of a music group. I love teamwork. So here we’re working in a team and it’s a part of me, for me it’s not new… You’re there to help other people, but they help you too. It’s reciprocal.”Andrés 2

In the coming months Andrés will continue his training, stating, “I look forward to learning more! I want to continue working… There are a lot of things to learn and I must take advantage of them… I know that this is going to help me in the future. It’s a great responsibility to learn more and more.” He has been studying the para-veterinary manual created by the GAAP with the support of Dogs Trust International, and has been advancing chapter by chapter (there are exams at the end of each chapter). When he completes the manual in 2.5 months he will travel to Huehue for 4 months to work with Dr. Adriana Contreras at the Clínica Santa Rita as an intern. And lastly, in July or Andrés 3August, Andrés will travel to Chile for 3 weeks to work with Dr. Elena Garde at the GAAP Clinic. The travel outside of Todos Santos for significant amounts of time will be challenging to Andrés because it means he’ll have to be separated from his family, but he says it’s worth it: “I always told Elena and Guillermo (GAAP Co-Directors) that it’s a great plan and I’m going to be responsible for the plan going well.”

Andrés deeply understands the importance of bringing veterinary services to his community of Todos Santos, and he has a long term vision for establishing a veterinary clinic in town. During the coming months he will also be exploring ways for establishing a sustainable para-veterinary program once the Dogs Trust International grant comes to a close. Possible options include requiring clients to pay small fees for services and/or establishing a veterinary pharmacy. He also is committed to continuing to educate his community about why veterinary services are important: “There are people here in my town who don’t have any idea what this is about, or how much money is being invested, or how many people are involved… I would like to share about this in a school, especially the schools farther away, to tell them that if perhaps one day someone wants to study to become a veterinarian, to take care of the animals, that’s important because we don’t have a veterinarian in the town here so we really need one. When we have a veterinarian the patients are going to arrive. I would like to share it with other people that it’s really good, it’s not just something about making money, it’s about taking care of the animals, keeping them healthy and feeding them well, to be a responsible owner. We need animals and animals need us as well.”

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