Dharamsala Animal Rescue simply doesn’t exist without its wonderful staff team. Period.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — DAR is only as good as its staff and volunteers. In previous posts, we’ve talked to some volunteers who have given their time generously to help all the furries in Dharamsala. Now it’s time to highlight some of our core staff members, who work tirelessly for one reason only: our beloved desi dogs!

On a recent trip to India, I managed to catch up with some of the DAR staff. Next up is Dr Mukesh, who is the veterinarian at DAR. We chatted about how rewarding his job is, the importance of ABC/sterilisation and anti-rabies programmes, and of course his favourite stray Shakira! 

Vaila: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do at Dharamsala Animal Rescue.

Dr Mukesh: Hello, I’m Dr Mukesh Kumar and I studied at Palampur University until 2019. I then worked in a pet clinic for a while before joining DAR in 2021 and here I am!

Vaila: Tell us about an event that sticks out in your mind/has stayed with you (whilst working for DAR), or heartwarming story…

Dr Mukesh: Two or three months ago we had a case where a dog was caught in a wire trap. The dog’s whole limb was infected and gangrenous so we tried to amputate but it was unsuccessful due to the extent of infection and gangrene, and it had started to decay. The sutures kept coming out and there was a lot of pus etc. So, it took about one and a half months to completely heal – he’s healing nicely. Working on this case has been really rewarding and it made me really happy to see him healing. His name is Aziz and he’s only ten months old. He’s still here but he’s better now.

Vaila: What do you love about working for DAR?

Dr Mukesh: It’s a great experience working at DAR because I have to deal with many dogs and puppies at the same time. I have to do treatments and many surgeries including amputations, tumour removal, and I find it so rewarding to be able to help them all by performing surgeries. Because it’s something I have the ability to do, to help them.

Vaila: Has working for DAR changed your perspective on stray dogs/how you think about strays? 

Dr Mukesh: Earlier I thought that street dogs needed less care but now I work for DAR I realise it’s just that not many people care about the stray dogs, about their feelings and health etc. After starting work here I got attached to the stray dogs and love them, and love treating them. Not many people care but they can depend on us. I treat them with love and care and through surgery I can help give them better lives.

Vaila: What can local people in Dharamsala do to help stray dogs?

Dr Mukesh: Many local people call us to tell us there’s a sick or injured dog and they help us catch them for sterilisations and anti-rabies programmes. This is the best thing local people can do – just inform us if they see a dog who needs help or treatment.

Vaila: On a more global scale, what can people do to help stray dogs?

Sterilisation programmes are very important to control the population – many puppies die on the streets because of a lack of food and healthcare. So it’s better to control the population. Rabies vaccination programmes are also vital to keep human communities safe from this disease. Other diseases can also be prevented, like zoonotic diseases, so caring for the dogs is beneficial for them and for the human populations.

Vaila: Who’s your favourite stray? 

Dr Mukesh: Shakira. Shakira is my favourite. She’s very friendly, fluffy and playful with me. I like her a lot.

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About the author

Vaila Erin is a writer, lover of animals, and a bit of a nomad. For her, life is about stories — observing yourself and others so that you can laugh, cry and entertain each other with its absurdities. Connect with her at vailaerin.com or via LinkedIn.