Nicaragua Veterinary Brigade   

*2010 Video, 2013 Video to see our YouTube videos displaying the clinic*

   In 2006, two Oregon State veterinary students traveled to Ometepe with International Service Learning. After their experience in "voluntourism", Brianna Beecher decided to gather support from fellow students and start a student-led trip targeting more controlled expenses, greater community reach, and greater student involvement. Beecher was asked to return by a local hostel owner and the planning for 2007 began! 

   Ometepe, a volcanic island located within Lake Nicaragua, is currently home to an estimated 10,000 rural families and 41,000 dogs, in addition to countless pigs, cows, donkeys, horses and chickens.  The families in this community rely on their animals for food, transport and work; however minimal veterinary care or husbandry information is available.  In addition, the large population of free ranging and stray dogs on the island is a nuisance to the tourism-fueled economy, and poses public health concerns.  This can be detrimental to native wildlife and also leads to an increase in the number of poorly cared for, sick animals.  Many of these dogs have never been examined by a veterinarian or received even basic health care.  High densities of diseased, free-ranging dogs also pose health risks to the people of Ometepe, acting as reservoirs of diseases and parasites that may be transmitted from these dogs to humans.  Diseases may even circulate between dogs, food animals, humans and wildlife.  Some problematic diseases include giardia, tape and round worms, rabies, and others.




   Our vision encompasses building a sustainable, annual program that improves the health of the human residents of Merida, and all of their animals (large and small).  Areas that we intend to improve are community education and involvement, castration of dogs, preventive medicine, continuing research about disease prevalence and public health/zoonoses to name a few.  Not only do the individual animals benefit, but the people will be at reduced risk for transmission of disease from animal to human populations if basic principles of husbandry and hygiene can be encouraged.  We are excited about the direction this project is headed – and we hope to have the continued support of the veterinary community to get us there!  

   Supplies that we must acquire before our departure include medical supplies such as vaccines, medications, gauze, bandages, suture, needles, syringes, as well as more mundane items like paper, tape, towels, blankets and leashes.  We rely heavily on donations from veterinary clinics, however, supplies that we are unable to get donated must be purchased using a combination of club funds and student resources.  Students must also pay for their own airfare, room and board which is around $1275 per person. We value the idea of students coming on 2 or 3 consecutive trips so that they can share their enthusiasm with new participants, as well as lend their expertise to the clinics; however, the out-of-pocket cost of these trips quickly becomes burdensome on individual students' budgets.

   Although we put great effort into fundraising outside of and within our school, and are always creating new programs and events to generate funding for our clinics, the amount we need seems to dwarf our fundraising ability.  That's why we are trying to reach beyond the Oregon State Veterinary School community, and the small town of Corvallis Oregon – that's where you come in!  Flying ~25 people to Central America and examining/treating 500+ dogs, cows, pigs, etc, to the highest standard-of-care possible, at a remote location in a developing country is a major logistical feat – one that takes resources!  

Check out the Hacienda Merida website, in Ometepe, Nicaragua where the clinic is held. HM


   The first fully student-organized trip

  • Two locations 
    • Finca la Flor, Costa Rica
    • Merida, Nicaragua
  • 8 students, 1 veterinarian 
  • Cost ~$1,700
  • Cases: 40
  • Diagnostics: 
    • 4Dx SNAP tests
  • Services: 
    • Wellness exams
    • Limited parasite treatment 
    • Spay and neuter 


   Dr. Montilla: The Puerto Rican MacGyver

  • 15 students, 2 veterinarians 
  • Cost ~$1,300
  • Cases: 115
  • Surgeries: 45
  • Diagnostics: 
    • Blood smears
    • 4Dx SNAP tests
    • Sugar solution centrifuged fecals
    • Ultrasound (pregnancy diagnosis)
  • Services
    • Wellness exams
    • Parasite treatment 
    • Spay and neuter
    • Large Animal: Merida community
    • Large Animal: farm visits
  • Elective Credit: 2 hours 


   12% of OSU CVM has participated

  • 18 students, 4 veterinarians 
  • Cases: 500+
  • Surgeries: 117
  • Diagnostics: 
    • Added centrifuge for PCV/TP
  • Began collaboration with veterinary school in Leon 


   Unprecedented DVM intererest and participation 

  • 18 students, 8 veterinarians 
  • Cases: 702
  • Surgeries: 64
  • Diagnostics: 
    • Two clinical pathologists!
  • Services:
    • Farm calls every day
  • Surgery:
    • Anesthesia monitoring equipment
  • Medicine:
    • More complete work-ups possible with more DVM power
  • 31 OSU CVM Students + 1 Public Health Student, 8 Veterinarians
  • Cases: 441 with 129 returning patients
  • Surgeries: 87 small animal, 15 large animal castrations and 26 large animal dentals
  • Community Health Seminar
    • Interactive presentation of zoonotic diseases
    • flea/tick prevention presentation with a 1 year supply of prevention for all participants. Sponsored by Summit
  • 29 OSU CVM Students, 2 Nicaraguan Veterinary Students, 1 Veterinary Technician, 11 Veterinarians
  • Cases: 774 (including small and large animals, farm calls, and a duck, a parrot, a chicken, and 3 squirrels)
  • Surgeries: 89 small animal, 16 large animal castrations, 77 pregnancy checks, 8 dentals, and a chicken enucleation
  • Community Health Seminar
    • Interactive presentation of zoonotic disease
    • flea/tick prevention presentation with a 1 year supply of prevention for all participants
  • 32 OSU CVM Studens, 2 Certified Veterinary Technicians, 1 Veterinary Assistant, 1 Nicaraguan Veterinary Student, 4 Veterinarians
  • Cases: 623
  • Surgeries: 102 small animal including an amputation and enulcleation, 14 large animal castrations, 30 large animal pregnancy checks, 11 large animal dentals, 1 omphalitis repair, 3 large animal hernial repairs
  • Community seminar consisting of:
    • Interactive presentations on small animal nutrition, body condition scoring, endoparasite and ectoparasite information


Participants: 3 veterinarians, 20 OSU veterinary students 1 Translator

Clinics: 6 days of clinics, each consisting of

  • 81 Small animal spays and neuters (dogs and cats)
  • 242 Small animal wellness exams
  • 22 Large animal castrations (horses and pigs)
  • 141 Large animal wellness exams, including 11 equine dentals 
  • 53 animals seen on farm calls 
  • One student research project

1 community seminar consisting of Interactive presentations 


Small Animal IDEXX 4Dx SNAP Plus test results (n = 27) & IDEXX Heartworm SNAP test results (n=27):

  • 3.7%    Heartworm positive 
  • 74%  Ehrlichia positive 
  • 0% Lyme positive 
  • 22%  Anaplasma positive 

Equine IDEXX 4Dx SNAP Plus test results (n = 13):

  • 30.8%  Ehrlichia positive 
  • 0%  Anaplasma positive 

Canine fecal results (n=143):

  • 51.7% Hookworm positive
  • 3.5% Roundworm positive
  • 2% Tapeworm positive
  • 0.7% Whipworm positive
  • 0.7% Coccidia positive

Large animal fecal results (n=12): 

        53% strongyles positive

       6% Parascaris equorum positive 

        6% Tapeworm positive

Patient totals:

  • 220 dogs treated, including  36 spays, 35 neuters, 2 mass removals, 1 dental extraction
  • 18 cats treated, including 5 spays, 5 neuters
  • 4 rabbits treated
  • 97 horses treated, including 11 castrations, 9 pregnancy checks, and 11 dentals
  • 40 pigs treated, including 9 castrations and 4 omphalitis repair
  • 2 cattle treated, including 1 castration, 1 omphalitis repair
  • 2 goats treated including 1 castration
  • 53 animals seen on farm calls 
  • 436 animals seen in total!