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Volunteer spotlight: Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital volunteer helps pets around the world

Posted on Friday, July 05, 2019

The Richmond SPCA is grateful to our volunteers who help us save and improve the lives of the animals in our care each day. One of these incredible volunteers is Licensed Veterinary Technician David Rubincam. David joined our hospital team in 2018, displaying a dedication to patient care that one could only expect from a former US Marine, Naval Aviator and FBI Special Agent. David also arrived with volunteer experience through several animal welfare organizations in his home state of Washington, having begun his journey into veterinary medicine in December 2013 as a volunteer with the nonprofit organization World Vets. David’s experience—described below in his own words—is a testament to the value of volunteerism, both at home and abroad.

I recently had the opportunity to serve as a volunteer Licensed Veterinary Technician (LVT) instructor for two weeks with the World Vets International Veterinary Medicine (IVM) Program, a surgical and multi-disciplinary veterinary training program broken into one-week segments for veterinary, pre-veterinary and technician students who wish to gain clinical as well as practical veterinary experience. The program is currently based in Otavalo, Ecuador in the Andes Mountains.

During each one-week segment of training-based clinics, all surgeries are performed on community animals requiring sterilization, both those who are owned and free-roaming dogs and cats. As an LVT instructor, I worked one-on-one with students to teach basic clinical skills such as preparation of patients for surgery (pre-med, placing catheters, intubation etc.), physical exams, basic anesthesia and analgesia protocols, patient monitoring and postoperative recovery. There are typically two to three LVT instructors and up to five pre-vet and/or vet tech students per session. I taught on average two to four students at a time.

A photo gallery of David’s World Vets experience in Ecuador

One day during each week, an Outreach Clinic was conducted at a remote village in Ecuador. There I worked alongside the students to provide basic health consults and administer preventive healthcare to villagers’ animals who have oftentimes never before seen a veterinarian. We administered antiparasitic medications and vaccines and shared education with the villagers about basic animal care.

I was proud to represent the Richmond SPCA during the World Vets clinics! The old saying “you improve your skills the most when you are called upon to teach another” is certainly true! I felt like both an instructor and a student; I gained as much knowledge from other instructors as I was able to share with the students. The World Vets IVM program is an amazing opportunity for anyone who wants to learn, teach and share knowledge and skills. I highly recommend this program to everyone. Learn more at www.worldvets.org.


David Rubincam is a Licensed Veterinary Technician living in Richmond, Virginia. He is an active and dedicated LVT volunteer at the Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital.

Prior to receiving his LVT certification, he served as a US Marine, US Naval Aviator and was a FBI Special Agent specializing in counterterrorism. His passion for animals, led him to pursue a post-retirement career in the veterinary field. When he is not volunteering for the Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital, he assists organizations like World Vets in Nicaragua, as well as with the Feral Cat Spay & Neuter Project, Fair Isle Animal Clinic, the Vashon Island Pet Protectors, Atlantic Veterinary Hospital and the Northwest Spay/Neuter Center in his home state of Washington.

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