Not many veterinarians in the United States are asked to assist with pet needs in Ethiopia. Hence why Illinois native Dr. Larry Baker was the only veterinarian out of 200 others to reply to the request via email, not assuming it was spam like the rest. Then again, not many veterinarians in the United States have similar experiences to Baker’s in different and unique veterinary requests, such as neutering an exotic tiger.
In Ethiopia, Hiruy Amanuel, co-founder of the leading EdTech company Gebeya, had limited resources in his home country to help with the dental problems his two dogs were experiencing. He knew he had to outsource to a veterinary dental specialist and started sending emails.
After receiving Baker’s affirmative reply to his email, Amanuel had one of his employees in California send Baker a contract regarding the issue and expectations. Once signed, the request became legitimate, and Baker was set for the international trip and excited about the challenge.
“Ethiopia is calling, and I must go,” is what Baker’s shirt read as he prepared to begin his journey overseas. Baker’s patients, a Cane Corso named Onyx and a Rottweiler named Oro, needed work done on both of their mouths. Regardless of the out-of-the-box request, the canines’ health was important for Amanuel as they protect his home and family in the capital city of Addis Ababa.
With limited resources in Ethiopia for canine dental care, Baker was requested to bring his equipment. “Unfortunately, I also had to warn Dr. Baker about possible equipment confiscation at the Addis Ababa airport. Unfamiliar large machinery is not safe through customs,” said Mr. Hiruy Amanuel. This statement proved correct as Baker was the third attempt to give Amanuel’s dogs proper veterinary care. Amanuel had a different dental specialist fly into Addis Ababa on two separate occasions, and Addis Ababa airport authorities took the specialist’s equipment both visits.
After landing in East Africa, Baker made the best out of the tools that he could access for his appointment. Unfortunately, the x-ray machine would not work, and the oxygen and nitrogen gas tanks were not to be trusted. Without hesitation, Baker did without the x-rays and sedated the dogs through injectable anesthesia. “100 percent nitrogen would have been fatal to Oro and Onyx,” said Baker. This realization resulted in a quick decision to use neither.
Several hours later, Baker had completed the tedious process of repairing teeth, placing metal crowns, and completing root canals with limited electricity and equipment. Baker found he could not utilize a high-speed dental drill, so he substituted his loss by performing root canals. This challenge called for Baker to use his Dremel tool to shape the crown of the teeth.
“The success of Onyx’s and Oro’s procedure was something to celebrate. My dogs and I will be forever thankful for Dr. Baker’s talent, sacrifice, and assistance,” said Amanuel.