"We must be the change we wish to see in the world." -Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The animal hospital

Note: reader discretion advised.

Honestly, I don't know where to begin. Yesterday was my first day at the animal hospital. One of the guys who works at my hotel took me there on his motorcycle and zipping through the city I was again sure we were going to hit someone or something but I held on and hoped for the best. Once at the shelter I met up with trudi the volunteer coordinator. She was great and showed me around every aspect of the hospital and shelter. First, she showed me the puppies. They were so small, most covered with mange and many with healing but still open wounds. Then she took me to the paralyzed animal ward. These are animals suffering from road accidents and they can't stand up, in fact they can barely lift their heads. A Woman sat in the middle of the dogs and trudi described to me that she massages them every day. Some of the animals that had been thought to be paralyzed are now walking because of the therapeutic massage this woman provides. Many of the dogs roaming the shelter were missing limbs - some of them missing both hind legs, only using their front limbs to crawl around. Trudi described to me that they only euthanize under specific and case by case circumstances. I was so surprised at how well these animals got around.

Next was the mange ward. Here there were about 30 kennels each occupied by a dog covered in the skin disease. Many of them having no fur at all. Trudi said those were her favorite animals at the shelter because they are so sweet but no one wants to touch them. Giving into the fact that I will probably contract mange at one point or another, I pet most of them. She was right, they were the sweetest ones there.

Next it was onto"A" ward where they kept the adult dogs receiving treatments. Most of them had fresh wounds, some severe and others less so.

Next she showed me the large animal area. Cows and donkeys occupied this space. Some with missing ears, tails, limbs etc. Many of the donkeys are here because their legs and feet had been tied so tightly to control their gait for carrying things.

Finally, trudi showed me raju, the monkey who had been electrocuted as part of his training for street entertainment. He is blind in both eyes, extremely aggressive, and for the most part sits in the corner of his cage and does nothing. He has been given toys but he doesn't play with them and often he refuses to eat.

So that was the tour. I returned for day 2 and was able to help the two veterinarians with treatments. There were many wounds, some of them very deep. What struck me was the fact that these dogs let the doctors and techs treat their sensitive wounds without giving much of a fight. I don't know if it is because they were to weak or scared or because they knew they were being helped. Either way, it was quite different from the struggling animals that try to bite me back home. Oh, and I got abscess puss squished in my eye, on my face, and in my hair. The techs there don't speak much English but we all had a good laugh when that happened.

The most disturbing case was a dog whose face was nearly unrecognizable. Someone had spilled (thrown?) acid on his face. The skin was sloughing off and I doubt he will be able to see again.

We then went to the large animal area for treatments. I had heard there was a cow that had been brought in that was in bad shape, I had no idea what to expect. The downed cow laid sedated on a mat with a towel over it's front limbs. The doctor lifted the towel and I couldn't believe what I saw. The two front legs were mangled beyond recognition. No skin was left and there was visible bone. This animal would never walk again and was clearly suffering. The doctor explained that Rajasthani law forbids them from euthanizing cattle. The doctor was distraught and angry with the situation. The animal Was given pain killers but had to be left to die on it's own. This isn't uncommon and there is movement to have this law changed but the chances are slim that anything will pass.

There is more but I will end it there for now. Needless to say it is emotionally draining.

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