Many veterinarians see their work as a calling and have an ongoing desire to give back to the animal kingdom. Veterinary volunteers with Vets Beyond Borders, an Australian-based international animal charity, devotedly share their time, knowledge and skills not just during the season of giving but all year round.
“Since 2003, VBB volunteers have made a measurable contribution to the health and welfare of animals and people in developing communities around the world,” said VBB CEO Maryann Dalton.
Through its VetMatch and VetTrain programs, the charity deploys volunteer veterinarians, veterinary nurses and other animal welfare workers throughout the year to deliver animal health and community awareness where they are desperately needed.
“You feel like you’re welcomed, you’re wanted, and you’re making a true difference,” said Victorian veterinarian Dr Alan Sherlock, who has volunteered annually in India for many years training local vets in veterinary medicine and surgery and working with VBB’s anti-rabies program Sikkim Anti-Rabies and Animal Health (SARAH).
India carries a third of the world’s rabies burden and SARAH is the first state-wide rabies program which has demonstrated successful near elimination of this nearly 100% fatal dog-mediated disease, explained Ms Dalton.
In the last financial year, VBB desexed over 7,000 animals, administered nearly 36,000 doses of anti-rabies vaccine and 290 doses of distemper vaccine, in addition to the medical, surgical and hospital care we provided to hundreds of sick and injured domestic animals and wildlife.
During the current financial year, in addition to treating sick and injured animals, VBB will administer 30,000 to 40,000 rabies vaccinations, plus 150-200 distemper vaccinations and sterilisation of up to 9,000 dogs, Ms Dalton added.
“Vets Beyond Borders provides the volunteers and facilitates clinical skill development of local vets,” she said. “We need funds to purchase medical equipment and vaccinations to treat street dogs for distemper, parvo and rabies.”
VBB vets’ generosity have a global impact
Veterinarian Dr Victoria Bondin from the Mediterranean island of Malta recently returned from her first volunteer assignment with VBB’s VetMatch program in Ladakh, India. For Dr Bondin, volunteering is ‘taking a break’ from her day-to-day running of her clinic.
“People tell me that I’m not really taking a break since I’ll still be working, but they don’t understand that for me, my work is my hobby and surgery relaxes me,” she said. “I look forward to making a difference, however small, in the suffering that stray animals endure. I believe that in this day and age, with all the supposed progress we have made as a civilisation, stray domestic animals should not still exist or at the very least should all be afforded adequate veterinary care and animal welfare standards.”
Queensland veterinarian Dr Gordon Corfield recently travelled to Cambodia as part of VBB’s VetTrain program to provide clinical training to veterinarians working with Cambodian animal welfare organisations.
“It has been an exciting opportunity to take VBB to Cambodia and make a meaningful and measurable difference to the emerging veterinary profession there,” said Dr Corfield.
Canadian veterinarian and vet technician educator Dr Martine Nadeau has been a volunteer for VBB for several years, first lending a hand in India. She recently travelled to Sardinia, second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, where she sterilised 100 street animals in one week as part of VBB’s VetMatch program. After a month’s stay there, Dr Nadeau continued to Cambodia as part of VBB VetTrain to share her knowledge and skills with local veterinarians.
“Vets Beyond Borders is grateful for the continued generosity of volunteers not just during the holiday season but all year round,” said Ms Dalton. “We encourage animal lovers to support VBB volunteers in giving animals in developing communities access to basic veterinary care and training local vets to make a difference, too.”
To donate to Vets Beyond Borders or for more information about the animal health and community awareness programs in Australia and around the world, visit www.vetsbeyondborders.org.