Dr. Balaji is an Indian vet who has spent the past year as a WVS Intern. His journey saw him spend three months at each WVS International Training Centre along with three months on the working equine project. This is his report about his final three months in Chiang Mai at ITC Thailand…
Here I complete my one year as a WVS intern; I must admit it has been a fabulous journey so far. My most awaited internship at WVS ITC Thailand was yet another memorable time filled with knowledge.
I was warmly welcomed by Ian, Dr. G and the rest of the Thai team and I really felt home in their hospitality. After taking a brief tour of the ITC and kicking off jet lag on the first day, I was all set for next day for the work. I had a great start with a small bunch of students from UK, who were in their second week of the course and were confidently performing spay/neuter surgery - they hardly needed help apart from a few tips. The course ended successfully with the Thai Karthong Festival (Festival of Lights). It took over a week to get adjusted to the place and work, although all the WVS ITC’s have the same protocols and the courses are very similar.
Later, I was a supervisor vet for three batches of international students from all around the globe. Students were from Australia, Singapore, USA, UK, Spain, Brazil, Italy and even more. I felt really privileged to meet and teach the vets and students from all around the world. It was huge exchange of culture and knowledge. It was also a privilege to meet vets with huge experience, who have worked in different types of practices and in different places in the world. I was really inspired working with them and sharing their knowledge which made me realise that how big the veterinary profession is. The grand end to 2017 came with a fantastic bunch of students from Murdoch Veterinary School in Australia. They were the nicest and loveliest groups of students I ever had so far and it couldn’t be a better way to end this year’s activities. It always amazes me the variety of people that pass through the ITCs. I have met people from more than 10 countries, a “bouquet of nationalities” I would say. Now my network is stretched all over the globe!!
Apart from training and shelter work, I also got the opportunity to be a part of a few mobile outreach clinics. My first outreach spay and neuter clinic was at the Chiang Mai municipality, where we joined hands with the Chiang Mai’s Municipality vets to spay/neuter and vaccinate against rabies. We neutered and vaccinated about 100 dogs and cats in that area. It was a great experience to meet international vets and understand their practice and also learn many skills. I was so amazed to know that “Dr Boy” (Thai nickname) happened to be the first Thailand ITC student back in 2015. Since then he has been in cooperation with the WVS ITC and helped to conduct many outreach programmes. I feel so grateful that I am part of the WVS ITC team.
More and more adventures came my way in Thailand. After our last course of the year which ended fantastically, the team got packed up for another outreach programme. This is my best outreach experience so far, which was at the BLES (Boon Lott Elephant Sanctuary) were WVS has sponsored a small animal clinic. The BLES clinic is in the middle of the beautiful elephant sanctuary and it is located in a very remote village of Sukhothai province. We arrived one day before to set up the clinic and camped there for total of four days. We spayed/neutered and vaccinated a total of 34 dogs and 98 cats so 132 animals in total between just three vets. We got incredible support from the local community for our work and I was surprised to learn how far and remote WVS has travelled to help animals in need.
ITC Thailand also runs a clinic and shelter along with the Care for Dogs Foundation. Here, I got to learn more about shelter medicine and management. Out of many interesting cases over there, one thing which really grabbed my attention was the shelter manager software which really eases and organises the shelter work very well. I also got to learn how to treat wound cases with the help of laser therapy from the Thai vets which was very interesting. I learned the principles of laser therapy and how to efficiently use laser therapy for trauma wound cases.
My report would not be complete without a mention of the New Hope Shelter. It’s just one miracle creation by the Thai team for a better life for abandoned and stray dogs. I was really impressed by the architecture of the shelter and the way in which the dogs are grouped according to their individual behaviour. Habitat restoration is done really well with a spacious run space and play area. I would love to visit New Hope again and wish to create a shelter for animals like this in the future.
Finally at the end of one full year of rotations between all the WVS ITCs I am a better vet and a better person than I was a year ago. I am proud to have worked at all the WVS ITCs and thankful to Dr. Ilona for giving me this opportunity and nurturing me and our CEO Dr. Luke for his endless support. I am also grateful to the whole of the Thai team right from Dr.G, Ian, Ou, Fon, all the vets, nurses and all the staff for being great hosts and accepting me as a part of the team for this rotation. I want to thank Chris and the UK office for making this trip go smoothly and comfortable. What’s more exciting is that for the next three months I will be part of the working equine project in India, helping street horses and donkey to live better life. I am running out of words to describe the amazing opportunities WVS gives budding vets but they are making the world better every day.