This blog post is brought to you by two vet students from New Zealand, who recently spent some time working at the Animal Tracks clinic in Goa...
International Animal Rescue Goa (IAR Goa) is located in the village of Assagao in the Indian state of Goa, and aims to reduce the suffering of stray cats and dogs through sterilisation, vaccination, re-release and finding responsible owners.
The rescue organisation has its own veterinary hospital, which has six full time veterinarians, three nurse, kennel staff, and volunteers. The vets have a bi weekly rotating role. Every week there is one vet in the kennels, one in out patient department (OPD), and three in surgery. The 3 nurses would mainly assist in surgery.
There are 97dog kennels (which were all occupied at any given time, with stray animals), 40 cat kennels, two operating theatres, an examination room, and a radiography and ultrasound area. We worked with and saw a range of animals whilst at IAR, including cats, dogs, cows, goats, monkeys, snakes and birds.
In the first week we were tasked with kennel treatments, which included dressing wounds, assessing recently caught stray animals, and administering medications. By the end of the first week we had already moved into the OPD (out patient department) and surgery.
Our favourite location was working in OPD. Everything happens all at once in OPD; there is no isolation room, no treatment room and no consult room. People arrive at the clinic and collect a number and then the vet visits the patients in order. The vet assesses the animal, collects history, and treats the animal in front of everyone. We felt useful in the OPD as we both have prior nursing experience and had just completed our third year of vet school. The vets would often ask our opinions and valued our input. We could discuss cases with the vets we worked with and felt like we made a difference while we were there.
One particularly memorable moment for us came on one of the first days: we put a nasogastric tube in a cat which then needed an Elizabethan collar. The vet asked us, “How good are you at making e-collars out of x-rays?” We laughed at first because we were confused, but then managed to do exactly that!
Many animals with skin lesions were often covered in turmeric powder. At first we were confused why so many animals looked yellow but then soon came to realise that first-aid adopted by owners of using turmeric as an antiseptic, are quite common and sought out by the culture.
There was a gas anaesthesia machine available, which was used for prolonged and special surgeries. Use of gas anaesthesia was impractical for the high volume of spaying and neutering being done routinely.
It was interesting to us how clients were often involved in treatments and restraint of the patients, mainly due to the lack of nursing assistance. People transported their pets to the clinic on motorbikes mostly - that’s just how people get around in Goa so it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary to them!
When we weren’t busy working, we would spend our days soaking up the sun on the beaches or trolling along the street markets. We really formed some lasting friends and we actually really miss all of them! Who knows, maybe one day when we’re vets, we’ll find ourselves back there again.
For more information about IAR and the fantastic work they do, visit their website.