During our annual visits to Guatemala, we’ve met many people- veterinarians, technicians, volunteers and assistants- who’ve not only become an essential part of every campaign but friends too. Melissa Payne is one of these people.

Melissa working with para-veterinary student Andrés.

Melissa has been working as a Technician at the Allandale Veterinary Hospital in Canada for 15 years, and first traveled to Guatemala five years ago to participate in the Todos Santos campaign, first with Vets without Borders and now alongside the GAAP. In Melissa’s words, “I fell in love and kept returning each year. I’m so happy to continue the work here (in Guatemala).”

We are so excited to partner with Melissa once again, this time for the Dogs Trust International para-veterinarian project in Guatemala. During the 4-day intensive course, Melissa worked with GAAP Director Elena Garde providing training to three para-veterinarians on important basic veterinary skills such as humane animal restraint, placing catheters, monitoring surgeries, prepping patients for surgery (including intubation) and caring for them post-operation.

Melissa also described how the GAAP and Clínica Veterinaria Santa Rita (who hosted the training) have been learning from each other, discussing the pros and cons of various techniques and exchanging anesthetic protocols, for example.

The training was provided in English and Spanish and was loads of fun, as well as a wonderful experience for everyone involved. As Melissa described, “The assistants’ learning has been amazing, they’re very eager to learn, and they’re learning quickly! It surprises me how quick they are, and how focused on learning, and I think they’re enjoying it!”.