Minty Lemonade, Pregnant Chihuahuas, and a Celebrity Chef: Heather Riggs in the Dominican Republic

Published on March 24, 2015 by arothstein

Heather Riggs, Veterinary Technology Program Chair for Broadview University, Orem, is a technician with many talents and passions.

Heather Riggs

One of her passions is teaching. As a board member of International Veterinary Consultants (IVC) she has had the opportunity to teach and train veterinarians in the Dominican Republic several times in the last five years.

“The mission of International Veterinary Consultants is to provide education and training to veterinary and animal care programs in developing areas of the world by building sustainable programs which improve animal health and human welfare.” Their primary focus is on countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. On this trip, the IVC focused on creating future training opportunities for practicing veterinarians and veterinary students. Many of the graduating veterinarians started right out of high school and completed a five-year degree. Many of them have less training than a veterinary technology student in the United States. “We are helping to improve the level and quality of education,” said Heather.

Once the IVC team arrived in the Dominican Republic, they met up with Dr. Lourdes Ripley. Dr. Ripley runs a non-profit spay/neuter foundation out of her facility called the

Doctors Pazos and Ripley

Vet Center. She has been working with IVC to train veterinarians throughout the Dominican Republic. The IVC team worked regular days at the clinic and enjoyed seeing some remarkable cases. Some of the most interesting cases included a Chihuahua with a very large abdominal hernia and a four pound Chihuahua who delivered five enormous puppies by C-section. The IVC team also gave lectures and taught labs on subjects such as surgical and suture techniques, medical math, anesthesia, dosing, and physical exams to veterinary schools. They also met with some American veterinarians who travel regularly to the Dominican Republic and came up with plans to institute teaching partnerships in the future.

A rewarding experience was when Heather and another team member ran into a former student. He recognized them first and was excited to tell them that he had since graduated from vet school and was now working at a clinic using the techniques and practices that he had learned from them.

Another fun experience happened at the Asiamia Restaurant where they ate dinner every evening. Heather’s favorite drink was a minty-lemonade. She tweeted about how good it was. To her surprise, a Dominican celebrity chef read her tweet and commented on it. She responded to his tweet by letting him know that she and her friends would be drinking minty-lemonade at Asiamia that night. The chef joined them that night for dinner and, amidst signing autographs and posing for pictures, enjoyed getting to know the IVC team.

Working with the veterinarians and technicians in the Dominican Republic is always a great experience for Heather and she is looking forward to her next set of teaching adventures. for more information on Dr. Lourdes Ripley’s training programs, please visit: and


[shareaholic app="share_buttons" id="27427430"]