"The value of dogs as companions and protectors is recognized across cultures, and as part of these dog health programs, we are very lucky to be so readily accepted by the communities in which we work simply because people appreciate their dogs being cared for."
I graduated from UQ in 1994 and started on the fairly typical career path of mixed practice, years of locuming in the UK, travelling, and a few trips to desex cats in the Greek islands.
I first heard of AMRRIC when I saw Phil Donohoe speak at the AVA conference in 2005. I did some prac work on indigenous communities as a student and the nature of the work has always appealed, but instead of staying home, I became involved with Vets Beyond Borders and their street dog sterilization and rabies vaccination programmes in India. I volunteered in Ladakh and Sikkim a couple of times, and then managed the VBB Ladakh programme until 2011.
I was in touch with Dr Ted Donelan during my final years in India as we were both collecting Canine TVT samples for Dr Liz Murchison. It was this conversation that gave me the opportunity to work with Ted in Maningrida in May this year.
It was a trip that I would love the chance to experience again. The similarities between working in India and Maningrida were many – the open air operating theatres, the flank speys, the curious onlookers, the never knowing if things would go according to plan (no matter how simple the original plan might seem).
The outstanding difference of course is that Maningrida is in Australia – the country I call home and yet now feel I know so little of. The two short weeks in Arnhem Land allowed just a glimpse of the ancient connections the indigenous people have to the land, their languages and customs, and of course the social problems that have escalated with settlement.
Thank you very much to Dr Ted Donelan, Dr John Skuja, and Dr Jan Allen for such a memorable fortnight.
Vets are in the fortunate position of being able to work in such diverse communities and cultures. Of course our focus is on the health and welfare of the animals we treat but the potential for this to also benefit the health of the local people can be an equally motivating factor. The value of dogs as companions and protectors is recognized across cultures, and as part of these dog health programs, we are very lucky to be so readily accepted by the communities in which we work simply because people appreciate their dogs being cared for.
Find out more about volunteering with AMRRIC.