Study Abroad: Thailand

Daemen pre-vet students Lizzie Potalivo and Samantha Garcia spent two weeks in Thailand working with professional veterinarians. Traveling with study-abroad organization Loop Abroad, the students were selected as part of a team that worked with both rescued elephants and dogs in need of care.

Potalivo and Garcia performed one week of service at the Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand.  The reserve is home to 60 elephants that have been rescued from trekking, logging, or forced breeding programs. The students fed and cared for the elephants — many of which suffer from chronic injuries or blindness from abuse.

Lizzie Potalivo

Lizzie Potalivo at the dog rescue clinic at Animal Rescue Kingdom in Thailand.

Garcia said, “Caring for the elephants while also respecting their space and previous trauma was a unique experience that I would not have been able to experience anywhere else.”

The second week of the trip was spent in Chiang Mai at Loop Abroad’s dog rescue clinic at Animal Rescue Kingdom. Under the guidance of professional veterinarians, the students performed check-ups and cleanings, diagnosed and treated ear and eye issues, administered vaccines, treated wounds, and helped with sterilization surgeries. Potalivo noted that working in a shelter was eye-opening.


Samantha Garcia at the Elephant Nature Park.

Potalivo said, “Working with the dogs was both an amazing and a saddening experience. I loved helping the countless number of stray dogs, but the number of dogs that will never have homes broke my heart. The Animal Rescue Kingdom does their very best to care for them all, but the numbers are just too large to give each dog the attention they would have in a home.”

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