Farida is a volunteer who joined our sister charity's efforts to reduce the dog population in our project area in Goa. This is her account of what it's like to be a WVS volunteer in Goa:
It has only been a week since I left for Goa to join the WVS team on their great effort to reduce the stray dog population. We are working side by side with Mission Rabies to make Goa rabies free. But it feels longer, in a positive way! So much has already been accomplished. I’ve met so many wonderful people and have seen so many dogs already with an earnotch (meaning these dogs are spayed/neutered and vaccinated against rabies!). It has been truly inspiring. But also there is still a lot of work to be accomplished.
The clinic that was once founded by John Hicks, who sadly passed away, has been taken over by WVS and will be used as an International Training Centre for veterinarians from all over the world to gain more surgical skills. It is been done by WVS in Ooty, India. The method proves to be highly succesfull! Animals are being spayed, neutered or otherwise treated which will improve their lives and there will be more great vets in the world. It really is a win/win situation!
When we were picked up to be brought to the place where we are going to stay the coming month, the first thing I’ve noticed is the amazing amount of traffic and the craziness of the driving style here in Goa. The roads are really busy with cars, people on bikes or on foot, cows and of course many many dogs. The amount of stray dogs was really overwhelming and I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen quite some places in the world. Of course once you know about the earnotch you will try to check out every dog you meet on your way and I was very impressed with the amount of dogs that already had an earnotch. Because of the overall appereance of the dogs, it is very obvious from a far distance to see which dog had already been spayed or neutered - earnotched dogs are just more healthy. They have more bodyweight, a better skin condition, and it's nice to know that these dogs have been vaccinated against the deadly rabies virus.
Of course we are here to spay and neuter with the WVS team. So time to visit the clinic where we will spend most of the month performing surgeries on strays. The centre is really impressive and has a lot of potential. The local team working in the Hicks centre are super motivated and take pride in their work (and they should be proud!).
The plan is that the Mission Rabies teams, who are going out to catch and vaccinate dogs every day even if it is monsoon time or in the summer heat (and the summers here ore hot and humid!), will bring to us the dogs they find during their mission which are not yet sterilised. It is very important that the catchers know exactly whre the dogs come from so all the dogs get their unique code and there exact gps location is tagged in the WVS app the catchers use. SO all dogs will return to the exact same spot as that also helps with remaining a stable dog population in that certain area.
The first day is a bit slow, of course, and sometimes even a bit chaotic as everybody in that team will have to find out what is working best and safest. We all have to get used to each other but all in all it is going great! The guys who were already working at the Hicks centre turn out to be vet nurses extra ordinaire! Placing IV catheters, shaving with a razorblade and all are able to prep the dogs. I am really impressed!
The first day we were able to help 20 animals - amongst them a young pup which sadly had an eye that had to be removed but is doing wonderful now! And unfortunately with the amount of cars and the amount of dogs, of course accidents happen and some have such an effect on dogs that they will have to have a leg amputated. We had two of those surgeries and I am very happy to say that both dogs are doing very well!
Oh so many things have happened in this short time and more things will happen, so I'll stop for now but soon will be happy to tell you more about this WVS Goa adventure that was made possible by the kindest support of Centaur! Thank you so much!
Me in the middle bottom with the amazing catching team