City woman’s pet project to help over­seas an­i­mals

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSEPH FITZGER­ALD jfitzger­ald@woonsock­et­

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.nicaraguan­vet­eri­narypro­

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...

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