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Pre-veterinary career: Maria Andrea Lopez Soto 21′ at The Sato Project Spay-a-thon in Puerto Rico

My second co-op has been one of the most important events in my pre-veterinary career. I had the opportunity to travel to Puerto Rico and intern for the Sato Project, an organization that dedicates their time in helping  abused, neglected, and abandoned dogs of Puerto Rico.

The Sato Project and 26 other non-profits, including The Humane Society of The United States, came together in an effort to spay and neuter cats and dogs in underserved communities in Puerto Rico. There are four rounds ( I attended the 3rd, and will be going to the last one in May. Yay!). During this seven day event, 1,136 cats and dogs were spayed and neutered at the Fajardo location. In the first, second and third rounds of the Spay-a-thon, 24,904 animals were spayed and neutered across Puerto Rico!

If you’d like to donate or learn more about The Sato Project, visit their website:

What did I do?

My job was to keep track of patients for the 7-10 veterinarians that were performing surgery. I had to collect surgery data and make sure the veterinarians knew all of the patients’ information, including: gender, weight, any pregnancies, and other crucial information. During the sterilization process, I would write down the type of surgery that was performed on the animal (spay or neuter). I included the type of surgical suture, if the patient was on anesthesia or not, and the type of cut done on the reproductive organ. This allowed me to get an immense amount of experience!

I was working 15-18 hour days everyday. This gave me the opportunity to get to know some of the doctors and, most importantly, watch over the surgeries. Sometimes, for part of the day I was needed in registration because of my ability to speak Spanish. The registration process was simple—I would write down patient and owner information like address, phone number, etc. and answer any questions or help people get around.


This experience allowed me to really focus on my long term goals. I was able to see what goes on behind the scenes of an animal care non-profit, and get a lot of hands-on experience. Some of the veterinarians shared with me their struggles of getting into a vet school and how they over came their obstacles. Hearing their stories was refreshing and reassuring!

Networking was a crucial skill that I developed. It gave me the initiative to get out there and get what I want! Participating in this experience also opened up possible future co-ops for me.

Cover photo credit: The Sato Project


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