International Programs

Christina Tam


This summer I was fortunate enough to work for two weeks at Scooby Sociedad Protectora de Animales y Medioambiente in Medina Del Campo, Spain, with veterinarians from all over the world. Although originally established for the protection of galgos, also known as the Spanish sight hound, the shelter currently houses over 400 dogs of various breeds and nearly 200 other types animals that have been abandoned or mistreated. In addition to offering refuge for these animals, the Scooby shelter also provides veterinary care for the animals.

In Spain, the galgos primarily function as coursing and hunting dogs. Tens of thousands of galgos are bred annually in hopes of producing coursing champions, and Medina del Campo has historically been the focal breeding ground of these dogs. However, those that do not meet the standards of the breeders are typically hung. Many of these animals arrive at the shelter emaciated or sickly, and it becomes the responsibility of the shelter to care for the animals.

For the first week, Kelsey Brust, a classmate of mine, and I joined Dr. Couto of Ohio State University and his group of veterinary students. Dr. Cuoto brings a group of students a few times a year and we were lucky enough to be able to accompany them. Starting at 9 am each morning and working until nearly 11 each night, we and the OSU students were active participants in the spaying and neutering dogs on-site and those from the satellite facilities. Each pair of students was given a patient and was responsible for performing the physical exam, calculating the pre-anesthetic and induction drugs, and monitoring anesthesia. We were also allowed to perform spays and neuters under the supervision of veterinarians. Although we frequently faced the challenge of language barriers, we quickly improved our Spanish comprehension as well as learned to communicate without words. When we were not in surgery, students were responsible for changing bandages, repairing lacerations, treating sick animals, and any other miscellaneous task that we were capable of performing. When there was off-time, the veterinarians, many of whom were experts in cardiology and imaging, held seminars and workshops on their field of expertise. Each night, after a hard day's work, we would celebrate by having dinner at a local restaurant with traditional dishes or holding a barbeque at the shelter.

When the students of Ohio State SVM left, I spent my time working with the staff veterinarian, Dr. Enrique. Under his supervision, I was responsible for continuing treatments as well as monitoring our patients and assisting him during his daily routine which ranged from removing fox tails to surgery. During my time there, I saw a variety of interesting cases including a number of dogs who were diagnosed with Leishmaniasis. The last day of my externship, Dr. Enrique allowed me to perform a complete castration on a male cat.

My externship at Scooby was extremely rewarding. As one interested in shelter and international medicine, I was able to gain insight on the similarities and differences in perception and practice of shelter medicine. What was unique about this experience was that it taught me how to improvise and flex my creativity with the limited resources and to think about herd health.

Unfortunately, due to the economic state of Spain and the rest of the world, Scooby faces the risk of being shut down. For more information on how you can help, please follow the link: