ORANGE WALK, Belize -- U.S. veterinary professionals provided treatment to various types of animals April 17 in Orange Walk, Belize, as part of a training exercise called New Horizons.
The veterinary team treated approximately 340 dogs, seven horses and one cat.
Elisa Castellanos, Orange Walk resident and owner of Napoleon, a 10-year-old Labrador and pit bull dog, was excited the clinic provided free veterinary care for dogs in the town.
"I love this effort because it is very much missing here in Orange Walk," she said. "When I heard about it, I told everybody."
Castellanos wants as many dogs as possible to be vaccinated at the clinic.
"My neighbors have never given their dogs vaccinations," she said. "I have some random dogs in my neighborhood, but I will make the trips back and forth."
Castellanos also said she believes this clinic will make a big difference in the community.
"A lot of it is people are not educated what to do for their dogs and the responsibilities of it," she said. "We each have a responsibility to do something. We just have to do what we can in our community."
U.S. Army Maj. Erica McNaul, veterinarian from the 719th Medical Detachment Veterinary Services, discussed the importance of giving vaccinations and deworming the animals.
"The reason this is really important … is that these animals carry worms and if the worms get into our children or ourselves, they can make us really sick," said McNaul. "They can also make the animals really sick. So if you (get your dog dewormed) it can't pass those worms on to other dogs and it can't pass them on to your kids or yourself."
McNaul also discussed how vaccinating can protect the human population.
"When we vaccinate them for rabies, it helps decrease the potential someone will be exposed to rabies … we really want to make sure that we try to help protect the population here," said McNaul.
"These efforts are fantastic, my heart just really lit up when I heard about this," said Castellanos. "It is really about time. The dogs suffer in this community."
The veterinary team is scheduled to hold various veterinary training exercises throughout Belize over the next two weeks.