In June, I completed a surgery course with the charity Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS) in Goa. In the two weeks we were taught how to perform spays and castrations on the street dog to help manage the ongoing problem of overpopulation. Charities like this exist to try to effectively manage this problem in the most ethically conscious and humane way possible, and this can’t be done without the trust of locals and with help from volunteer vet students like me. The work that we did helps to educate and promote the notion that sterilisation is a more ethical and efficient method compared to mass culling
The ITC Hicks team, Goa
The clinic was basic in terms of supplies, anaesthetic drugs and some of its equipment, but it’s levels of cleanliness and welfare were of golden standard. However, this is not always the case in ABC clinics, as money is tight and pain relief and proper cleaning of equipment can sometimes be overlooked. I was very relieved to find out that this was not the case with WVS when I arrived. The two vets who taught us on this course were helpful and friendly and gave me the right amount of support to calm my nerves about doing my first every surgery. Now that I’ve completed the course my confidence has shot up. It was also really interesting to see different attitudes towards pets and dogs in general. We prepared our own dogs for surgery (drugs, drapes, catheters) and stayed with our dogs in recovery. Overall, I did 8 male and 8 female surgeries!
One of my first dog spays
On one of the days, we helped Mission Rabies by catching street dogs and vaccinating them against rabies. Rabies is a huge issue in developing countries, and this project was established to protect the spread to other animals. Catching dogs with rabies is potentially very dangerous, and so we were trained to learn how to keep ourselves safe when handling infected and possibly vicious dogs. However, most of the dogs we met were very sweet and will continue to be rabies free thanks to Mission Rabies. Working with the local community in Goa was a very crucial aspect of our work in the city, as the attitude towards street dogs will determine their treatment. We also went around explaining to locals the work that we do and suggesting ways that they can help, such as bringing neighbouring dogs into the clinic for vaccination and calling us if a dog is suspect to having the disease.
Helping with Mission Rabies
This training experience was extremely important in setting me up for the rest of my surgical career – it is where I learnt my basic principles of surgery, apply what I’ve been learnt on my course in real life situations, and gain confidence in my own abilities. The work was long and very demanding, but when I started doing my surgeries by myself it was all worth it.