Watching Safari Vet School this week reminded me of those days in practice when you find yourself, for no apparent reason, completely behind with consults and as a result feeling the stress levels rise and the panic start to simmer beneath the cool, controlled exterior that one must always be seen to command whilst consulting. The students, led by mentor Steve Leonard, although by his own admission, in somewhat of a haphazard and seat-of-your-pants manner, had the task of administering first opinion veterinary healthcare to the area’s pet dogs, with apparently hundreds of animals being presented patiently by their owners, who could not really afford to provide the sort of basic veterinary care that we often take very much for granted in this country. The team conducted clinical exams, vaccinated the dogs against rabies and administered both preventative measures, such as worming, to treatments for specific problems, mostly skin issues such as mange. Many of the dogs were unused to veterinary attention and so the work was clearly hazardous, not only from the risk of being bitten, but also the risks of potentially contracting one of the plethora of conditions that the dogs were likely to have been carrying. Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of picking up mange – something I thankfully have not – will attest to how uncomfortable it is and how repeating the experience is not high on the wish list. Still, despite the challenges and eventually running low on supplies, the students all seemed to get on brilliantly and no one got bitten, which is always a bonus!
The work conducted by the team with the local community really helped drive home the importance of animals to communities, especially in impoverished parts of the world. Animals play many vital roles within society, from providing food, to powering agriculture, and, on a more social level, to providing companionship for people, and the importance to such communities of ensuring their animals remain fit and healthy is clear to see. I had the good fortune to become involved with the charity WVS (Worldwide Veterinary Service) a couple of years ago after competing in three triathlons over three months to raise money to help fund their amazing work. Their belief is in educating and thus empowering the local people to care for and safeguard their own animals’ health, rather than simply flying in, firefighting the problems and then flying out again, as is the case with a lot of charitable endeavours. They offer vets the chance to go out to various parts of the world and volunteer their expertise and time to help in much the same way that the Safari Vet School students do. Steve mentioned in the show that he was going to repeat the experience and I would suggest that he gets in touch with the WVS, who I am sure would be thrilled to benefit from his profile in supporting the work they do.
Give that man a medal
Can I say right now that vet Will should be on the South African shooting team at the Olympics because someone who is able to hit two Cheetahs running at full pelt with a dart, from a helicopter, first shot, deserves a gold medal!
Missed yet Proud
There was one part of the show this week that particularly struck me on a personal level, and that was when vet student Vicky was talking very honestly about the sadness felt due to her grandmother passing away before she was able to see her attend the course. I fully empathise with Vicky here as I longed for my grandfather, who had always been an encouraging and positive influence in my life and efforts to gain a place at vet school, to see me graduate as a vet. Unfortunately he passed away even before I had started university and was not even able to see me commence my training, something I find very sad, especially as I know how happy and proud he would have been. I am certain, Vicky, that your grandmother would have been as proud of your achievements with the Safari Vet School as I know my grandfather was of me 🙂