Volunteer Spotlight: Dr. April Gessner Deddens

Name: Dr. April Gessner Deddens

Home State: North Carolina, USA

School/Education/Year graduated: Ross University DVM 2013

Years of Animal Health Experience: 20 years

Current Occupation: ER Veterinarian

• Tell us about your World Vets Journey.  How did you get involved?  I volunteered during vet school with another group and got to travel all over Central America several times during breaks helping people and animals. I then started a branch of that group in St Kitts for people who couldn’t afford veterinary care and this also gave vet students hands-on experience. I am proud to say that group is still going strong, 8 years after I started it! My passion is to help provide veterinary care to the most impoverished areas of the world and World Vets has allowed me to do that.

• How many trip have you volunteered with World Vets? Three so far – Paraguay, Cambodia, and Nepal. My fourth trip will be this fall to Laos.

• What inspired you to volunteer for World Vets?  I absolutely love helping the people and animals who really need it. I feel drawn to volunteer my services and help the pets and strays who otherwise would not get veterinary care. Being immersed in the different cultures and learning about them keeps me motivated and inspired to be a better person. The long lasting friendships I have made with people from all over the globe is heartwarming. World Vets is an experience of a lifetime and I am very thankful I am able to participate!

• Do you have a favorite World Vets experience? We were in a shop in the streets of Nepal and the owner found out we were veterinarians. She had a street dog who lived at her shop who she cared for and she was very enthusiastic for us to to take him to clinics with us the next day to neuter him. When we brought him back, she was overcome with emotion, holding our hands with tears in her eyes telling us thank you. She said she would pour water on dogs in the streets when they were mating at an attempt in population control. She was so sweet and really trying to do right by these dogs. It warmed my heart to know that she was aware that spay neuter could help and that she was trying to do all she could with what she had. We had temporarily named him Stewart on our day with him but found out she had named him Balu and instead of dog food, he liked to eat momos (a popular Nepalese dumpling).

• What would you tell future volunteers for World Vets?  Do it!!! It is literally a life changing experience and constantly reaffirms why I became a veterinarian.

• When you’re not volunteering for World Vets what does the rest of your life look like? I have been an ER veterinarian for six years and also work at a spay neuter clinic. I was recently awarded a Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award at Ross University for the international volunteer work I have done. I love running, yoga, and rock climbing and live with my husband who is a veterinary radiologist, my amazing daughter, and our three cats who I rescued while volunteering to help displaced shelter pets during Hurricane Florence.

World Vets simply could not operate without our amazing volunteers and cannot thank them enough.  Click here to join the World Vets volunteer team!