David Kahl is a vet from a small animal practice in Australia. David was looking to refine his animal birth control techniques and decided the best opportunity to enhance his skills was to take part in a course with WVS! This is his blog!
The experience in Hang Dong, Thailand was fantastic! We focused on female spays but also did some male castrates as well. It was better equipped than I had anticipated and there was a strong focus on welfare which was great to see in a shelter. The staff operating the shelter and assisting in surgery were so much fun and really helpful. I felt very comfortable asking for advice or a hand if I ever needed it. I was so fortunate to be with a wonderful group who all got along so well which enhanced the experience.
There is so much to do in Chiang Mai from visiting temples, trying out new foods and bars and also plenty to do outside of Chiang Mai such as bike riding through the countryside, hiking through the jungle and other outdoor activities. While we were there the weather was really warm and humid so we spent a lot of time out and about doing things.
An average day at WVS Thailand involved a pick up from the house at 8.15am and then it’s a short drive to the shelter. We would then have a look at the surgical cases for the day and they would be divided among the participants. We would have the first group anaesthetised by 9am and then proceed through the surgeries for the day. During the first week while everyone is still learning, we were working until about 4pm or 5pm, but by the second week the surgeries went much quicker (depending on the case of course!). We would alternate between being the surgeon and being the anaesthetist for each patient. The anaesthetic protocols and analgesic protocols were very safe and prioritised animal welfare and patient comfort. I was very impressed by their multimodal analgesic plans for their patients which would be better than some veterinary practices in developed nations. All the animals were also vaccinated against rabies to help prevent spread between dogs and into the local human populations, so we were saving human lives too! After finishing for the day we would go back to the house where everyone had free time. Often we would organise group activities and WVS even organised a night out for us in the final week with the staff which was so much fun.
In terms of my favourite moment, I would struggle to pin down one single highlight, but meeting such a wonderful group of people to work with and the staff at Hang Dong would be a major highlight. The surgical confidence I got from this course was great and I thoroughly recommend it.
There were so many dogs that had lovely temperaments but there was one beautiful girl with a transmissible venereal tumour and she had developed a post whelping pyometra. Without the surgery the WVS vets were able to give her, she would have succumbed to her disease but between the surgical intervention and chemotherapy she is making a full recovery and will be happily released back to her home and her puppies soon!
There were so many surprises on the course, but mainly how well the animals were cared for. They have a wonderful staff of caring vets, nurses and animal handlers at the shelter and their focus on welfare was great to see.
This course helped me develop further skills and confidence that I have been able to take back to my vet practice and helped me progress my surgical capabilities. I would love to go again and I would definitely recommend this course to a friend.