The GAAP from a Volunteer’s Viewpoint

How far can you get when you are driven by passion? Patricia Lechten got all the way to Latin America.

USE THIS PICShe has known since she was five years old that she wanted to be a veterinarian, and has never wavered from her desire to aid animals. It was this passion for helping animals that led her to look for volunteer posts on related veterinary websites, when she came across the GAAP’s request for help on a campaign. She applied, and was soon on her way to Guatemala for an amazing adventure.

Now, looking back at her time in Guatemala, Dr. Lechten says that “time in Todos Santos makes you realize how lucky people and their pets are in developed areas. Many of the people in Todos Santos can barely provide for themselves, but still endeavor to provide for their pets as well.” During her stay there, she was amazed at the perseverance of pet owners to responsibly care for their pets, and the good nature of the community. “In Todos Santos, clients may walk for an hour to have their pet seen. Then they may sit for two hours waiting for their turn. At no point in time do they complain or become irritated – if anything, it is a festive atmosphere with pets and children everywhere.”

When faced with the daily struggles of the pet owners, Dr. Lechten commented “There are some animals that are very thin or in poor condition. However, it is not because the owners don’t care. It is due to a lack of knowledge, lack of access to care, or inadequate means to properly provide for their pets. For instance, cats need meat in their diets, but many cats are fed nothing but tortillas as that is all the owners have available.” Through her experience with the GAAP, Dr. Lechten found it very fulfilling to help pets who had no access to other veterinary care, and stated that one of the greatest benefits provided by the GAAP is that it brings some of the outside world to fairly isolated communities. “In Todos Santos, the children all look forward to the Community Day as a break from their daily routine, and a chance to interact with people who give them a glimpse of a different life.”

Dr. Lechten continues to demonstrate her commitment to the partnership with the GAAP as she recently visited the GAAP Clinic in Chile, as well. We’ll check in again later to get her comments on that experience!

Dr. Lechten is is determined to help less fortunate communities in Latin America and to aid the GAAP to fulfill the mission of creating better lives for people and their pets.



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