Animal Medical Camp Wrap-Up Completed
22nd April, 2016
This month the Animal Medical Camp team concluded their activities. Even though the main animal camp took place during the last two weeks of December, a small team returned this month to “mop up”, that is to perform surgery on females who were pregnant in December, and puppies who were too young to undergo surgery then. This follow-up work is very important in order to prevent a new round of dogs becoming pregnant before the camp returns next December.
This year the core camp facilities– operating theatre, recovery room, pharmacy and administration– were relocated to larger premises in new rooms created below the extended Monlam Pavilion stage.
The street dog sterilisation and anti-rabies programme continued. After three years of the programme, its impact is now evident. Nearly all the street dogs in Bodhgaya have been sterilised and treated, and tourists report a big difference in the health of the dogs and a decrease in the dog population. It is no longer common to see sick and hungry puppies struggling to survive by the roadside.
The vets also treated sick animals brought to the outpatient’s clinic, mainly livestock and pets, and vaccinated domestic dogs against rabies. Sometimes surgery was necessary. The most demanding case this year required neurosurgery on a blind nanny goat brought to the clinic squealing with pain. She was suffering from a tapeworm cyst on the brain. After the surgery she made a good recovery, and now has the sight restored in one eye.
The outreach programme of vets and veterinary assistants going out into local communities, treating animals and giving advice on the compassionate care of livestock, continued.
Working from the principle that education is the key to establishing long-term behaviour changes to the attitude, care and welfare of animals in the community, a major expansion and focus this year has been an extended educational initiative. Cindy Powers, a volunteer psychologist from Australia, specially designed a programme with the specific intention of changing behaviour and instilling new attitudes towards both domestic and wild animals and birds. Material used included ten stickers of different animals with animal welfare messages and a colouring book in Hindi, which teaches children about dog behaviour, how to avoid being bitten, and what to do if you are bitten in order to avoid catching rabies. The team visited local schools, orphanages and monasteries.
In their new quarters, there was even a small sitting area where staff could relax and drink a cup of tea or coffee, complete with a throne, which proved to be an essential requirement this year. The Animal Camp was particularly blessed by the visits of three high lamas: His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa came and blessed the Animal Camp, then hosted a five-star lunch at the Royal Residency Hotel for all the staff; Ayang Rinpoche gave a short Dharma talk; and Mingyur Rinpoche led a meditation session on simply relaxing the mind when tension arose while carrying out the daily activities, like having problems catching dogs! Although the Kagyu Monlam Animal Medical Camp officially completed its work on 30th December, the need was so great that the vets continued to operate and treat patients for a further day. Finally, by the evening of 31st December, everything had been cleaned and packed away. Immediately, the staff began planning for the next camp in December 2016.
His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa requested that monastics become involved in the program. So 10 monastics from Rumtek and Mirik underwent a one-week training course in Gangtok last November with the SARAH team. They learnt basic animal handling, first aid and animal nursing and care. They also learnt important information about the prevention of dog bites and rabies. His Holiness presented each monastery with an animal first aid box, packed full of medicines, bandages and other supplies and they will become custodians of dogs’ health in and around their respective monasteries. Two monks volunteered during the animal camp as vet assistants and were very compassionate and caring nurses to the dogs undergoing surgery and treatment.
We particularly appreciate the continuing support of the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, who were generous sponsors of the programme once again this year. Volunteers came from the SARAH Division, Sikkim Department of Animal Husbandry; Department of Livestock, Bhutan; Tibet Charity, Dharamsala; Department of Animal Husbandry, Bodhgaya, Bihar; Rumtek Monastery; Mirik Monastery; Australia, England and Germany – a combined effort to improve animal and community health in Bodhgaya. (Statistics)