City woman’s pet project to help overseas animals
PAWTUCKET – As a pet owner herself, Erika DeVargas, a Pawtucket resident and student studying animal business management, saw the Providence-based charity the Nicaraguan Veterinary Project as the perfect organization to get a school internship with.
The Nicaraguan Veterinary Project is a small non-profit organization that helps animals in impoverished areas of Nicaragua.
DeVargas, 31, a secondyear student pursuing an Associates degree at the New England Institute of Technology, was looking for an internship opportunity when two of her professors told her about Yelena Trubitsyna, an American veterinary technician who founded the Nicaraguan Veterinary Project in 2007.
“Yelena Trubitsyna is the founder and president of this charity, which focuses on helping the animals in Nicaragua,’” says DeVargas. “This is possible by allowing the people in Nicaragua to have free veterinary health care including spay and neuter services for their pets at no cost to them in return.
They have been holding
free veterinary health care clinics for them since 2010.”
As part of her internship, DeVargas has taken on the task of trying to help Trubitsyna raise money for her next mission to Nicaragua in January of 2018.
Along with a friend, Scott Houle, 30, of Lincoln, DeVargas is coordinating a fundraising event to be held Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Rumford Pet Center, 865 Warren Avenue, East Providence. The fundraiser will include games, prizes, raffles, pet clay paw prints for pets and coloring books for children.
DeVargas says every cent raised in donations at the event will go to the Nicaraguan Veterinary Project, which provides preventative care, treatment, owner education, and surgery.
Since 2014, and with the help of international and local volunteers, the organizations have spayed and neutered thousands of small animals. The organization was founded by Trubitsyna when she met Dr. Jorge Luis Betanco, a Nicaraguan veterinary student. Together, they decided to help each other to improve life for Nicaraguan pets and food animals. But their work requires financial contributions to buy medications and equipment, DeVargas says.
“This is a very small non-profit so raising money is crucial,” she says. “Getting the word out there is so important for this charity.”
When she’s not attending school, DeVargas, a 2006 graduate of William E. Tolman Senior High School, is a receptionist and activities teacher at Atria senior living in Lincoln. Houle works in the marketing department for Coastal Medical in Lincoln.
For DeVargas and Houle, both animal lovers and owners of dogs they rescued from shelters, Trubitsyns’ work is both important and inspirational.
“She and her team are doing incredible and important work,” DeVargas says.
To donate directly to The Nicaraguan Veterinary Project, visit www.nicaraguanveterinaryproject.org.
Scott Houle of Lincoln and his dog, Sasha, a nine-year-old Havanese rescue, are pictured with Erika DeVargas of Pawtucket and her pup, Erielle, a six-year-old Chihuahua rescue. DeVargas and Houle are trying to raise funds and awareness for the Nicaraguan Veterinary Project, a Rhode Island non-profit that helps animals in impoverished areas of Nicaragua.