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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 was one of the most important experiences in my pre-veterinary career. I had the opportunity to travel to Puerto Rico and work with the Sato Project, an organization that dedicates their energies to 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 were four rounds in 2018-19. I attended the 3rd in the winter of 2019 and will be returning to the last one in May. (Yay!). During this event, 1,136 cats and dogs were spayed and neutered at the Fajardo location. All together in the first, second and third rounds of the Spay-a-thon, 24,904 animals were spayed and neutered across Puerto Rico!


What did I do?

My job was to keep track of patients for the 7-10 veterinarians that were performing surgeries. 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 very well and, most importantly, gain experience by watching 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.

Outcome

This experience allowed me to really focus on my long term goals. I was able to better understand some of the problems facing remote communities. 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.

Gratitude

This co-op experience was supported by a fellowship award from the Manuela Dobos Fund, which was created to honor Manuela Dobos (1937-2015), Antioch College Class of 1955, who was a brilliant student, linguist and beloved teacher at the City University of New York. The fund is intended for young scholars to explore the transformative power of living in different cultures, learning other languages, and understanding the issues, and conflicts that shape our world. I am grateful to the Dobos family as this life-changing experience would not have been possible without their support.

If you’d like to donate or learn more about The Sato Project, visit their website: https://www.thesatoproject.org/

Cover photo credit: The Sato Project

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