Dharamsala is a town made up of many small suburbs and villages and is populated by thousands of street animals (mostly dogs and cows). The DAR mobile clinic is an excellent and necessary way to meet the needs of animals needing care but are not in critical condition.
Having a mobile clinic diminishes the problem of having to transport all animals to a primary shelter constricted by size and staff. By having DAR go into the community, we can engage the locals to help with the treatment and recovery of that animal, which may include feeding, administering medicine, providing shelter, and calling us again if more problems arise.
This eliminates the need for catching the dog with a net (when aggressive) and taking the animal into our shelter. This method greatly reduces the stress on the animal by letting it live and heal in its own community instead of confined in a kennel.
Our first stop of the day was an out-patient, a dog named Murphy. Murphy was neutered last week and has been licking his incision, causing it to get infected―so he’s pretty uncomfortable. We gave him some antibiotics and encouraged his owner to get him a collar to prevent further injury.
Our next stop was to check up on a calf that got hit by a car. She has a pretty bad wound on her back leg but otherwise is in good health. (Gross out fact: I saw her bone!) We gave her a clean dressing and will visit her every day until we can leave the wound uncovered. If we had left it exposed, the flies would go at it and make it worse. (Gross out fact: She’d get maggots.)
One of the great things about our mobile clinic is that it allows us to care for large animals that we can’t bring in to the clinic, like this calf. If you are from India, or if you’ve visited, you will know that cows and bulls wander the streets looking for something to graze on. They will often sleep right in the middle of the road, sure in the knowledge that all traffic will divert around them. Although this seems to be the case most of the time, of course there are often accidents.
Next, we went to check out a street dog whose “family” had noticed she had an eye infection. We weren’t able to get close enough and since she’s not spayed, we decided to bring her and her pack in tomorrow and spay/neuter them while we treat her eye infection.
We left some kibble and the locals agreed to corral them tonight so we can easily get them in the truck tomorrow for transport. Go community effort! Once we’ve de-sexed the dogs, we’ll bring them back to their turf, where they are well cared for.
Our next stop was to visit an old gal called Millie who is a regular patient. She has a chronic condition that periodically flares up. We put her on some antibiotics and gave her a much needed pedicure. A local restaurant owner has cared for Millie and eight other dogs for years. He calls when she starts looking bad so we can come out to treat her. It takes a village.
The mobile clinic van goes out every day to treat patients but one of the most important elements of the program is creating a community of care. It is the responsibility of the whole community to care for the street animals.
From the restaurant we when to check out a dog that was not eating and appeared to be lethargic. When we got there we found her and her siblings full of energy so we just shared a snack with them and went on our way.
Our final stop was to help another calf. When we arrived to give her anti-tick medication, Miet noted that her front leg wasn’t straight. The owner explained that it was a broken leg that wasn’t set and so healed crooked. Not much we can do about that now, but if the mobile clinic had been called at the time, we could have set the break and prevented the improper setting.
The mobile clinic treats anywhere from six to two dozen animals every day. The van drives around the Dharamsala area, not just caring for stray animals and pets but creating awareness within the community. When people see the mobile clinic van on the side of the road treating animals they learn that there is an option when they see a sick or injured animal. If they call us, we will come. What an amazing asset to the community!
Words: Andrea Lloyd
Editing: Sharnon Mentor-King
Images: Andrea Lloyd
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About the author
Development Director, Dharamsala Animal Rescue