Being a vet in India (lots of pictures, therefore slow to load)
For the past 18 months I (Miek) have been working as a vet for a UK-based charity called International Animal Rescue (IAR) in Goa, India. Goa is a small state on the west coast of India and is, due to it's climate, beaches and relaxed atmosphere, a popular tourist destination.
Besides these pleasant characteristics of Goa there is unfortunately some unpleasant aspects as well, one of them being the numerous stray animals on the streets! Injured dogs, cats and cattle with often horrifying wounds or in severe malnourished condition, unwanted puppies & kittens, snake charmers, captured monkeys and, until a few years ago, dancing bears roam around the streets.
The main goal of the centre in Goa is to reduce the huge dog and cat population to a more 'healthy' number by an ABC-program and to bring relief to injured or sick stray animals. Besides this the centre also runs a busy daily outpatient clinic for owner animals, with the aim to provide veterinary aid for people who cannot afford to attend a private vet.
Goa has a large population of 'stray' cattle which roam around freely in cities, villages and even on the beaches! Numerous cattle on the street required medical attention but the centre was not 'equipped' to deal with these animals so we've set up facilities to house and treat injured cattle in the centre and to attend sick cows in the field.
Most problems in cattle are related to badly infected claws, tight ropes, burns, intestinal disorders due to eating rubbish and road accidents. We received phone calls daily, from people who had seen injured cows on the streets and armed with medication, ropes, a stretcher and an assistant we set off in our jeep, to the patient.
Now, attending a sick cow in India is not as easy as it may sound...
First, I had to find my patient, then I had to catch it, before I could finally treat it! Most cows are not used to be handled, and so are scared or even aggressive which makes sedation necessary before you can do anything at all!
Once we found the injured animal in the fields, woods or even on a crowded beach we then had to dart it with a pressurised airgun containing a syringe with a sedative agent. A small girl running around with a gun usually attracted a big audience which made the cow in question even more suspicious and me more nervous! After a successful attempt at darting the cow (and not the crowd!!), the catch-the-cow-game begun and usually involved running after the cow and trying to tackle it down and tie it with robes. Depending on the injury, the cow was then either treated on the spot or was (unfortunately more often) transported to the clinic for surgery and further veterinary care. The most common surgery involved the amputation of one of the two claws on the foot. The cows recover very quickly and are doing fine with only one claw. Luckily, we could find a new owner for most of the cows treated in the centre so they did not have to go back on the streets.
Even though the work was quite hard, both emotionally and physically, it has been a great experience for me. The satisfaction of giving stray animals a second chance makes all the hard work more then worth it!
You can read more about IAR on : http://www.iar.org.uk