Sterilisation, amputation and more; what our International Veterinary Manager, Dagmar Mayer has been doing in Malawi.
I have now been in Malawi for over one month and my back and arms are starting to ache from doing surgeries every day...
The team has been absolutely amazing! Some volunteers have been with me from the first day (Mark and Sam from Dogstar Sri Lanka), others have joined and left again (Jess, Louise, Becky, Liz, Vinay, David) and others are working with the team for the whole month of May (Shashi, Wilfred and Laura). Sadly Cait had to leave yesterday, after doing the most amazing job here over the last three months! She will be greatly missed!
Everybody is working extremely hard and every day we are starting work at 6am! On weekends we drive to Primary Schools in Blantyre, where we set up a popup clinic within 20 minutes and sterilise more than 60 dogs during the day until it gets dark. After work the team is still busy, washing and packing instruments, cleaning out cages, treating inpatients and preparing all the equipment for the next day! But somehow everybody is still happy at the end of the day as it’s very satisfying to do something for this friendly community and their lovely dogs!
The word is out and people know that there is an experienced veterinary team working at the Blantyre SPCA shelter in town. We are now receiving calls from all over town and the Mission Rabies teams are bringing sick and injured dogs to us on a daily basis. They are giving the location to the vet in charge and they are then picked up with the BSPCA three wheeler, which was sponsored by Dogs Trust last year. After their treatment the dogs can be brought back to where they came from.
On top of 730 sterilisations, we have already amputated two fractured legs, removed five eyes and several tumours, repaired abdominal hernias and treated dozens of TVTs.
Three children even walked for over three hours (one of them without any shoes) with their very sick dog after they found the address of the BSPCA on the vaccination card they received at the Mission Rabies vaccination point! We have been treating their dog now for the last week and slowly she is getting better. Yesterday the children came back, just to pay her a visit! Hopefully she will recover soon and we can drop her off at her home next week.
Some cases are always more ‘special’ to the team than others and we had a few dogs we all got very attached to:
The first one is ‘Chester’, a sweet little dog with a really nice owner. Chester had a very large mass growing on his backside over the last three years. His owner tried to get help from local paravets and apparently they tried to remove it a few times but it kept growing back. When Cait and me picked up Chester his owner begged us to try and remove it… The mass was so large that we seriously considered euthanasia as it was involving the anus and it wasn’t clear if we can even separate it from the surrounding tissue, but we tried – and succeeded! We were able to remove the complete tumour and Chester recovered without any major problems. He is now back with his owner, who is very grateful!
The other dog is ‘Freddie’ whose very large tumours were noticed by the Mission Rabies team, walking door-to-door. Freddie has the largest skin TVTs we have ever come across. We tried to reduce the tumours with Vincristine at first but they didn’t get any smaller and the poor dog continued biting and licking them constantly. We then decided to remove them, so Shashi and me spent over one and half hours, removing six ulcerated tumours from his hind legs, abdomen and penis. I couldn’t believe how well he was doing the next morning! He is such a happy dog and is running around already as if nothing has happened! We will keep him at the clinic for the next week but it looks as if he will make a good recovery!
These are only two examples of cases we are treating but I could go on about every single one of our patients….
We have another week to go and all the volunteers are motivated to treat as many dogs as possible in the remaining days. But the work at the BSPCA clinic will continue! We have already received pages and pages and pages from the Mission Rabies teams, filled with names of people who want to have their dogs sterilised! People have realised how beneficial the operation is to their dogs and future WVS teams will have more than enough to do here!