VetStrategy clinic team goes on fifth volunteer trip to Ecuador
November 8, 2023
Find out how they make a difference in this 4-minute read
- Dr. Scott Bainbridge and his team at Dundas West Animal Hospital (Toronto, ON) spayed/neutered 117 dogs and 86 cats at their latest trip to Montanita, Ecuador.
- This year’s trip included the following teammates: Dr. Karissa Ali, Dr. Jenn Effendi, Dr. Leslie Burke, Dr. Scott Bainbridge, Shirley (Assistant), Paola (RVT), and Ryan (OVC 2025).
Bainbridge and his team make this trip once per year focusing mainly on sterilizations, but they also perform vaccinations and other procedures. It all began in 2016 when he and his wife discovered their eventual retirement home in a neighbouring community, noticed the stray dog problem, and reached out to the local animal welfare charity. The annual excursion has made a difference in both his team and the overseas community.
“We see people waiting in line for hours to have their animals sterilized, and they are just so gracious. There are zero complaints about how long it took or how long people waited. Everyone is always grateful for the services we offer. It really does fill our buckets,” he explained.
“Even though I helped facilitate positive change in the communities of coastal Ecuador,
they have given back to me in ways I could not imagine. This experience changed
my outlook on what a career in veterinary medicine could be.”
– Ryan Isabella, OVC 2025
Making a significant imprint
After all these years, the effects of the annual sterilization clinics are evident. The stray dog and cat population is close to being under control, and as a result, both the locals and tourists can enjoy cleaner and safer streets and beaches. The impact of these yearly trips on Dr. Bainbridge’s team is also just as powerful.
“Our teammates that come down to Ecuador are very different when they go back. You know exactly who the people are that have been to Ecuador because of the way they connect at work,” he said. “There’s a lot of respect for one another. We get to know each other extremely well without the pressure of being at work. The experience is quite frankly… priceless.”
“Ecuador was a once-in-a-lifetime experience where I could use my veterinary skills to do something
that was both rewarding and fulfilling. That place holds a special place in my heart.”
– Dr. Kim Buchanan (Ecuador Campaign February 2021)
Logistics and advice for other teams
The clinic always starts with a GoFundMe campaign to raise approximately $1500 for medical supplies that they bring to the township. They maintain a strong relationship with the local politicians and veterinary community there. Two of Dr. Bainbridge’s teammates are also fluent in Spanish which helps them when collaborating with the locals. Team members going on the trip pay for their own air fare, and they often stay for a few days after the spay/neuter campaign to enjoy the sights and some beach time together.
“The pet overpopulation problem is not unique to Ecuador by any means. If you’re away on a holiday and you see the same thing I did, speak to the people on the ground. They would be more than thankful for you to help out,” Dr. Bainbridge said. “It seems like everybody when they hear about this trip wants to come. You don’t have to worry about finding people interested in coming along.”