Prepared to Provide Care No Matter Where, Spotlight: Delia Large-Hart, DVM ’22

Mar 07, 2024
Delia Large-Hart

Delia Large-Hart, DVM ’22, emanates an effusive sense of caring. Her consistent desire to help animals and their people has driven Large-Hart's career and volunteerism, including a recent stint in Ukraine as an emergency veterinary surgeon volunteer. She began her current pathway with enrollment at Ross University Veterinary Medicine (RUSVM) after a 14-year career in veterinary endocrinology diagnostics and research at BET Labs. Large-Hart felt as a veterinarian, she could be more hands-on to directly affect positive change.

Prepared for a new path

Through her professional research work, she already knew three RUSVM professors and it became obvious that RUSVM was the right place for her to begin her next career journey. While initially interested in specializing in ophthalmology, Large-Hart took a rotating internship and discovered a knack for emergency veterinary medicine and surgery. She enjoys the fast-pace and credits RUSVM for giving her a strong anatomical knowledge base that has helped her successfully work as a veterinarian in an emergency setting.

Large-Hart says, “Even if it was a surgery I didn’t know during my internship, I had the foundation for the physical work – RUSVM helped me feel confident and ready.”

This foundation has served her well in her role at Columbia Pike Animal Hospital & Emergency Center in Virginia and beyond. In addition to her work at the Center, Large-Hart has been a dedicated community volunteer. Over the last year, she teamed with a rescue group, Wolf Trap Animal Rescue, to provide over 150 spay and neuter surgeries. It was here, under the guidance of Dr. Amber Burton, she learned how to be efficient in surgery and handle problems quickly and calmly. These additional talents were vital in her next volunteer role—serving in a conflict zone.

Volunteerism in Ukraine

In August, Large-Hart volunteered with Breaking the Chains, an international animal rescue organization that operates inside conflict zones and areas impacted by natural disasters. Their Ukraine team needed veterinarians, and Large-Hart wanted to be of service to help people and animals in need. With 100 pounds of supplies and a plane ticket donated by her employer, she made her way to Ukraine.

With boots on the ground, Large-Hart learned that across Ukraine, veterinarians and vet techs had moved into medic roles to serve on the front lines of the war with Russia, and there was a significant skills gap in the care of small animals. As a volunteer veterinarian, Large-Hart led surgeries, re-organized the clinic, translated and re-labeled medicines, taught others surgical skills and techniques, gave the team basic vet tech instructions, and traveled across the country to provide spay and neuter clinics. In just four days, Large-Hart performed 95 spays and 15 neuters, as well as cared for animals brought in by locals who knew the team was in the region. Days began at 6 am and ended at 10 pm. She performed surgeries on make-shift tables out in the open air, often with the distant sound of explosions and sometimes with shockingly low flying jets overhead.

Since her return to the United States, her clinic has begun welcoming rescue animals from Ukraine to Virginia for adoption. Ideally the war ends soon, but if not, Large-Hart will consider a return to Ukraine in the future and would love to bring other veterinarians and vet techs along for the journey.

“While I’ve volunteered cleaning-up after tornadoes and hurricanes, having specific skills as a vet now is so rewarding—to be useful in this situation [conflict zones]. That’s the Ross training, I’m confident in any surgery and learned not to panic. Ross is good at finding out your characteristics, so you’ll become the best vet you can be.” States Large-Hart

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