Two students in veterinary technology spent two weeks in Chiang Mai, Thailand this July as part of Loop Abroad, a veterinary service program, to care for dogs and elephants. Juniors Rachelle Boneff and Lindsey Fenton decided to go to Thailand to broaden their work experience with exotic animals, such as elephants. Boneff liked how she was able to work with the elephants one-on-one compared to how people work with elephants in the U.S. through barrier nursing. Fenton saw this as a rare opportunity to work with elephants and learn a new culture. “I want to experience all that I can, and learn as much as I can to ensure that I am the best me I can possibly be for my future patients,” Fenton said. While in Thailand, Boneff and Fenton worked with many different dogs at the Animal Rescue Kingdom dog shelter and elephants at the Elephant Nature Park. They spayed and neutered some of the dogs and cats to help decrease the feral population, removed ticks, cleaned animals’ ears, cut their nails, and allowed the animals to socialize. A lot of the Thai dogs and cats either do not have homes or live with monks, so they do not have access to this type of care. “The most important thing to me was being able to show them love and affection that they don’t get every day,” Boneff said. At the Elephant Nature Park, they learned how an elephant’s anatomy is similar to that of a horse. They treated the ones with medical issues, like foot abscesses. They were also selected to spend an entire day studying the elephants’ diet so that park officials could make any necessary changes. Boneff especially enjoyed bathing the elephants every afternoon. “Making their favorite thing your favorite thing builds an unspoken bond between you and an amazing creature,” Boneff said. “That just kind of sparks the excitement within.” She and Fenton thought the trip was memorable because of how it would help them in their futures as veterinary technicians. Boneff learned how to treat different animals and gained a wider range of animal experience. “(This trip) has taught me that even if I don’t know everything about a species, I can pull what I know from my past experiences and piece it together with what I do know to solve an animal’s problem,” Boneff said. “The more experience I gain, the more animals I will be able to help.” To Fenton, this experience solidified her ambition in working with wildlife instead of domesticated cats and dogs. “To me, the least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak out for themselves,” Fenton said. “Animals deserve that.”

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