Berrysville, ark. - What started as a vacation led an Arkansas veterinary clinic to set up operations temporarily in a rural Central American town, with staff members vowing to help improve the community's animal-control methods and veterinary care.
BERRYSVILLE, ARK. — What started as a vacation led an Arkansas veterinary clinic to set up operations temporarily in a rural Central American town, with staff members vowing to help improve the community's animal-control methods and veterinary care.
The self-titled "Carroll County Veterinarians without Borders" — comprised of members Tina Cone, DVM, and Debbie Weiland and Ramona Hambrick, both veterinary assistants, and all staff at the Berrysville Veterinary Clinic, Berrysville, Ark. — spent eight days during February in the village of Hopkins, Belize.
After vacationing there together last August, the women were moved to respond when they learned that poisoning is the town's primary method of animal-population control and that many area pets lacked proper veterinary care.
In partnership with the Belize Humane Society, the women arrived in the 1,000-resident village on Feb. 21, equipped with surgical supplies, antibiotics and preventive treatments, all donated from veterinary distributors, pharmaceutical companies, clients, family and friends.
Using a one-room house for their new practice, Cone, assisted by Weiland and Hambrick, performed 58 spay/neuter surgeries, made house calls for varied treatments and examinations and helped teach a class on proper animal care — all at no cost to residents, Cone says.
"It was a wonderful experience. We'd never done anything like that before, and it was out of my comfort zone. I think all three of us, even though it was hard work, felt it was good for the soul to help like that," she says.
Planning a return visit possibly in August, Cone hopes this time to bring along her husband, also a veterinarian. "I think we could do double the amount of surgery and accomplish more in the same period of time," she says.
Cone aims to make the Hopkins trip an annual adventure. "I want to adopt the town. We really connected with these people, and we enjoyed it immensely," she says.