Bringing Benefit to Beings: Gyalwang Karmapa Inaugurates the 2nd Kagyu Monlam Animal Camp
2 December, 2014, Monlam Pavilion, Bodhgaya
As the Gyalwang Karmapa said, last year,
“Humans have often treated animals badly. I have the great hope that we can decrease that, and that an understanding that animals are members of our family in this world can spread everywhere.”
For the second year in succession, Kagyu Monlam International has organised a veterinary camp to help in a small way to redress the balance and fulfil His Holiness’ hopes
This year’s animal camp is being supported by the Government of Sikkim who deputed members of staff from the Sikkimese Anti-Rabies and Animal Health Division [SARAH]. The team is headed by four Sikkimese vets, Dr Thinley Bhutia, Dr Karma Dolma Bhutia, Dr Phurba Lepcha, and Dr Diki Palmu Sherpa. They are being assisted by six Sikkimese para-vets. There are also four volunteer vets who flew in especially from Australia, Joy Fredericks of the NGO Dogs of Gaya, and Sonam from Dharamsala Animal Welfare.
Following a small reception in the library at the Monlam Pavilion to mark its inception, His Holiness visited the animal camp, stationed next to the main gate, behind the monks’ encampment. He was accompanied by the District Magistrate, Sri Sunjay Kumar Agarwal I.A.S. As they approached, the youngest member of the team, five-year old Dolkar, came forward shyly, and presented the Karmapa with a colourful flower arrangement. His eyes lit up. He smiled warmly, thanked her, and gave her a hug. Dolkar, dressed specially for the occasion in a lilac brocade bokku, is the daughter of Dr Diki Sherpa and Dr Thinley Bhutia, and met the Karmapa for the first time at last year’s camp.
The Karmapa and the D.M. walked through the camp side-by-side, asking questions of the staff and watching various procedures underway. In the first room they looked on as two dogs were prepared for surgery and saw a demonstration of ultrasound equipment. In the operating theatre, three vets stood operating on three dogs, and, outside, in separate compounds, woozy animals lay recovering from the morning’s surgery, while others awaited their turn. Finally, the Karmapa and the D.M. visited the Outpatients section, where a lame pony, a very sick puppy and a camel were receiving medical care.
The vets, para-vets and volunteers have been divided into four teams. One team will continue the anti-rabies initiative through the ABCAR programme begun last year. Each day the team will go out to round up street dogs. The dogs are operated on and vaccinated against rabies, and their left ear is clipped to show that they have been treated. They are then kept overnight in the camp for post-operative observation, and released the following day in the vicinity where they were captured.
A second team will treat out-patients in a tent outside the Monlam Pavilion entrance. All are welcome to bring an animal, wild, domestic or pet, for assessment and treatment there.
In addition, this year, following a request from the Gyalwang Karmapa that they pay more attention to the needs of the local villages, a third team will concentrate on an outreach programme to the villages. Working in close co-ordination with the local panchayats [village councils] the team hopes to visit all thirty or more villages in the Bodhgaya area during the week, offering medical assistance and advice on the care and management of livestock and pets.
The fourth team’s role is to visit local schools and monasteries and provide education in four vital areas
· Animal welfare;
· Dog-bite prevention;
· Rabies prevention;
· Humane stewardship of animals
Gaya District has a major problem with street dogs and rabies. The District Magistrate was so impressed by the effectiveness of last year’s initiative that he approached the CEO of Kagyu Monlam, Lama Choedrak, and Dr Schuetze, and asked them to organise a training programme for local vets. Consequently, ten local vets will be joining the animal camp as observers and trainees this year. Afterwards, a group of them will be sent to Sikkim to train with SARAH, which is an accredited national training centre under the Animal Welfare Board of India. Sri Sunjay Kumar Agarwal hopes that Gaya District will then be able to operate its own ABCAR programme.