Supporting Mission Rabies from the start: Joy's Story

Post by
emily king
April 17th 2019

Joy Howell is one of our incredible volunteers who gives up her time to help vaccinate dogs on our projects! As a previous volunteer for our sister charity WVS, she saw the creation of Mission Rabies as it's own charity and knew it was only a matter of time before she committed two weeks to one of our campaigns! 

Last year, she joined us in Uganda to begin a pilot study in Kasese, and it's an adventure that is not stopping yet! For 2019, Joy is once again joining us in the Pearl of Africa and we can't wait!! 

Joy's blog is below so please have a read of how this partnership began - she's also been chatting to the Vet Times about her adventure with Mission Rabies Uganda. If you have a Vet Times account click here, but if not, you can still read the full article here!!


Last week, having just celebrated the publication of my article in the Vet Times, I was already over the moon to be able to add the fee to my Justgiving page for my planned Mission Rabies trip in July.

But when I took a surprise call from Holly at the Vet Nurse Times, I could not believe the news that I had won “The Above and Beyond Award” for May and would now be able to give Mission Rabies yet another £250.

The Awards are there to celebrate members of the veterinary nursing profession who make others’ lives that little bit easier – be it through a small act of kindness or by always being there for others in times of need.

Each month, they pick a winner who will grace the pages of VN Times, and feature in their online winners’ gallery. In addition, he or she will receive a prize bundle sponsored by Animal Friends, which includes a £250 donation to a UK-registered animal health charity.

Di Westwood, a fellow RVN, nominated me after reading my article, knowing that Mission Rabies would benefit if I won, so I must say a big thank you to Di.

In January 2020, all 2019 winners will be entered into a further competition, where Vet Times readers will be able to vote for their overall winner, so please watch out for the voting as it would be wonderful to win even more for WVS and Mission Rabies.

So how did my journey with WVS and Mission Rabies begin? With regards to voluntary work, 2003 turned out to be a very important year for me. I first visited Uganda to trek and see the mountain gorillas and I fell in love with the country so have been involved with various charity work out there ever since. 

2003 was also a turning point for me because I met the inspirational Luke Gamble, founder of WVS.

Having supported WVS from that moment on, I went out on my first trip with them in 2007.

They were running a joint animal welfare education programme in Uganda to teach children how they can help animals in their local community and I was delighted to join this project in an area of Uganda that I was very familiar with, as I had been working with two local schools there since 2004.  

This was an amazing trip and we took a second group of teachers and vets out the following year, then Luke visited the area to feature the mountain gorillas as part of his Vet Adventures TV series.

I was delighted to be able to help co-ordinate the project by organising local cattle and goat owners to attend the WVS pop-up clinics.  And so, the bond between WVS and Uganda was well and truly formed and I was incredibly pleased to be a part of it.

No wonder then, that I was eager to join a Mission Rabies trip out to Uganda last year and I had such an amazing time that I am heading out again this July. Mission Rabies is expanding its work in Uganda by moving south to work with the communities surrounding Bwindi Impenetrable National Park – home to half of the world’s mountain gorilla population. 

Last year, I also really enjoyed working with the NGO Daktari Andorraand its CEO Jesús Muro Figueres, DVM MSc PhD Veterinary Officer from the Andorran Government. His team of vets and vet students from Andorra, Spain and Uganda partnered with Mission Rabies providing sterilisation and treatment at their mobile field clinic during the rabies campaign.

It was wonderful to see how they could do a high number of surgeries in a field clinic without compromising surgical principals or animal welfare, so I am delighted they will be joining us again this year.

The importance of neutering was emphasised by the high number of canine Transmissible Venereal Tumours (TVT) in both sexes. TVTs, also known as Sticker’s sarcoma, are spread by the transfer of living cancer cells between dogs, usually during mating. This causes tumours, which are usually associated with the external genitalia of both male and female dogs. By sterilising these animals, we are preventing the spread of these tumours and improving animal welfare. 

At the end of the project Daktarireported that they hadspayed/castrated 180 animals, sampled (whole blood, EDTA, ectoparasites) 200 animals, and vaccinated approximately 500 dogs plus some cats. They had also performed surgeries on pyometras and TVTs and provided deworming treatment.

I am now looking forward to another amazing trip with Mission Rabies and hope that I will be able to work with and support these two fantastic charities for many years to come.