Lots of you know that every year I use my annual leave entitlement to volunteer my veterinary skills and knowledge for rescue centre hospitals and charity organisations around the world.
This year I went to an island called Carriacou, a small island off the coast of Grenada in the West Indies to work for the Grenada Society for Protection Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA)
On arrival at the hospital it was a warm evening. Obviously I was tired, but I was greeted by four lovely dogs, who lived at the hospital for one reason or another and were soon helping me to unpack! It’s a good job that no volunteer work ever requires smart clothes as mine at this point were being dragged around the floor...
The days were long, from 8am until 8pm, and it was very hot working in temperatures exceeding 30 degrees most days. Every day presented cases some good some not so good some with happy outcomes and some not so.
There were routine procedures, such as cat and dog spays and castrates, but as the hospital is not government funded and the owners of these animals can only afford to give a donation, items used such as antibiotics and general anaesthetics are all donated by people such as myself.
One of the biggest challenges that the hospital faced were dogs with ‘tick fever’. We don’t get it over here but the ticks over there carry a nasty virus which effects all the limbs and the circulation of dogs. Once bitten. dogs will loose the ability to stand and the limbs get very swollen – the prognosis is always guarded but if caught in time the dogs can be placed on IV fluids and given a special course of treatment that sometimes can pull them back round. But these dogs will remain in the hospital with round the clock care. I saw three cases and only one was a good outcome.
Another thing that owners do, which if I’m honest frustrated me greatly, was driving beaten up old 4x4s with open backs and tying dogs into the back with rope. This is supposed to prevent the dog from jumping out, but often the rope length is too long and doesn’t stop them. This is what happened to Brie.
This beautiful cross breed dog jumped out of the truck when some other dogs started chasing it. The owner drove for about 100 yards before he realised what had happened, by which time of course the dog had sustained bad scrapes to all four legs.
We saw Brie every day for the time I was there, replacing the dressing daily. The wounds did get better, but the dog was still allowed to travel in the back of the truck, although the rope was made shorter. I felt the dog should never have been put in the back again!
• To be continued.