When Banfield veterinarians Dr. Maria Ramirez Gorton and Dr. Isaac Bott traveled to Mexico for nearly two weeks in October as part of the Mars Ambassador Program (MAP), they hoped to make a difference in the lives of pets and their owners. What they didn’t know is that the trip would be a life-changing experience for them as well.
The two doctors were among five MAP ambassadors who traveled to Mexico City where Banfield—a subsidiary of Mars Inc.—has a teaching hospital located at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) campus. In addition to Dr. Bott, chief of staff from Banfield/West Jordan, Utah, and Dr. Ramirez Gorton, chief of staff, Banfield/Newport News, Va., the group included: Raquel Rodriquez, veterinary assistant, Banfield/Kansas City, Kan.; Stephanie Watson, executive communications specialist, corporate affairs, at Banfield’s Central Team Support in Portland, Ore.; and Dr. Shashank Sinha, manager of specialty pet (food) trade at Mars India.
“During the course of three days, our little group vaccinated more than 850 pets and reached/dewormed over 1,000,” said Dr. Ramirez Gorton. “We came from different countries, we never met prior and yet in less than two weeks we became a family. It truly was an experience of a lifetime. I am forever changed.”
Dr. Bott’s experience was similar. “The happiness I experienced while performing these vaccine clinics was inexplicable,” he said. “The organizers of the MAP program here in Mexico this year have put in the sweat and climbed the steep peak of excellence. It has been a life-changing experience to participate in this wonderful program.”
The ambassadors helped communicate the importance of regular veterinary visits to the community while promoting a positive corporate reputation for Banfield through outreach at several mobile clinics. The team performed needed veterinary services in Queretaro, Cuautla and Guadalajara, where lines of waiting owners brought their pets in on rope leashes, in baskets, crates and mesh grocery bags. Outfitted in lab coats, the ambassadors worked side-by-side with Banfield Mexico veterinarians and UNAM students to provide wellness checks and administer vaccines. To the team, the experience was both rewarding and overwhelming in the number of pets and people served. A visit was also made to an animal shelter about 90 minutes outside of Mexico City where Drs. Bott and Ramirez Gorton helped perform 10 spays—without electricity!
Throughout their assignment, the team was able to get a feeling for the dire need of veterinary services in Mexico and to see first-hand the obstacles these communities faced, such as the lack of resources and the creature comforts we in the United States enjoy. The distance from other resources, zoonotic potential and minimal patient histories were part of that mix.
Selected ambassadors from all levels of the Mars organization participated in MAP throughout the last half of 2012, which gave them the opportunity to travel to different countries around the globe and make a difference on a variety of projects.
Read more about the MAP Mexico experience through Dr.Ramirez Gorton's blog.