An Unforgettable Trip To Help Animals in South Africa

An Unforgettable Trip To Help Animals in South Africa

Claudia Eckel, a veterinary assistant at Drumm Veterinary Hospital in Castleton-On-Hudson, New York, shares highlights of her incredible trip to South Africa. 

I was given an amazing opportunity to travel to South Africa for an unforgettable three weeks for a pre-veterinary program. During my time there, I performed charity work in the townships and communities with domestic animals in need, completed a wildlife chemical immobilization course, and assisted in giraffe relocation research. Not only did I come home with different skills, but I was also lucky enough to use what I learned at Drumm Veterinary Hospital to make a difference in South Africa.

This was especially true in local townships and communities where there is an overpopulation of dogs, and most owners can’t afford proper veterinary care. People brought their dogs and cats to us to receive a variety of care that included basic internal and external parasite control and prevention, severe bite wounds, and support treatment for diseases such as distemper. 

I’m currently in school to become a technician and have been learning different skills at Drumm, such as how to draw blood and give injections, which I was able to use on my trip. 

I gave subcutaneous injections of Ivermectin for parasite control and administered intravenous and intramuscular medications for treatments. I also completed a wildlife chemical immobilization course, where I learned about the different drugs, darts, and dart guns used to immobilize African wildlife safely.

We used what we learned in the field to immobilize impala, blesbok, nyala, and buffalo (mostly for translocation). While they were sedated, we monitored their respiration, heart rate, temperature, and oxygen levels, received a fecal sample and did a blood smear. We gave reversal drugs using the jugular vein in the impala, blesbok, and nyala and I was lucky enough to give the drugs using the auricular vein in a buffalo. 

Already knowing some of the drugs used in veterinary medicine and how to monitor animals under sedation/anesthesia helped tremendously in understanding and completing this course.

This program opened my eyes to all the differences there are in veterinary medicine. I’m incredibly thankful for the skills I learned at Drumm, which I was able to take with me and use to help so many wonderful animals.