Our Unique Truck
This awesome piece of machinery is the world’s only all-terrain, entirely self-sufficient, mobile veterinary hospital capable of running outreach programmes, training courses, and mobile clinics. Basically, it provides veterinary resources in the most remote of locations where they are most needed.
Designed and built in the UK in 2012, in partnership with our sister charity Mission Rabies, after which, it spent 33 days travelling over 11,000 km to reach Mumbai and begin its epic first mission – eliminate rabies from the Indian state of Goa!
Ever since, the veterinary team on board has travelled thousands of miles vaccinating thousands of dogs against rabies in India - the world's hotspot for the deadly disease.
But that's not the truck’s only mission. With it, we're determined to deliver world-class veterinary aid to hard-to-reach communities to improve the standard of care animals receive in India - no matter where they're found. That's why we join forces with local governments, universities, and private vet practices, to host veterinary courses for Indian vets and vet technicians and improve participants' clinical diagnostic skills, and impart knowledge on rabies control and Animal Birth Control (ABC) surgeries. By providing local vets with the essential skills to humanely manage animal populations within their communities, we can reduce overpopulation and eliminate all the suffering that's with it - disease outbreaks, widespread starvation, and mistreatment.
It's not just a truck, it's a mobile veterinary hospital. The high-tech mini-clinic is equipped with a digital x-ray, ultrasound scanner, microscope, and operating theatre, which can handle and treat a variety of cases. It provides vets-in-training with the perfect space to learn world-class surgical skills and practice them under the guidance of our experts.
The participants work in pairs throughout the training. One performs the surgery whilst the other is in charge of anaesthetic monitoring. After two weeks of intensive lectures and practical training, the participants have the skills and confidence to perform both castrations and spays on their own. Skills that will improve the health and well-being of animals within their communities, and subsequently, protect public health.
In the Indian Monsoon of 2021, the truck geared up for a four-month programme, which by the end of the journey, will cover 2,500 kilometres across India, train 40 local vets, sterilise over 500 dogs, and support 10-12 local educational institutions and animal welfare groups.
In June, our team made the journey from Goa to Lonavala in Maharashtra, a beautiful hill station known for its breath-taking views and Chikki (a nut-based confectionary). Here, veterinary aid is limited and the nearest clinic is over 70 kilmoeteres away. We worked with In Defense of Animals, Shivadurga Mitra, and the Lonavala Municipality to train seven local participants - three practicing veterinarians and four veterinary interns - and provide free expert care to the community's animals.
In the two-week course, the group managed to sterilise 112 dogs, administer 93 rabies vaccinations to pets, as well as treat a variety of cases, including maggot wounds, skin infections, acute hemorrhagic diarrhea, and fractures. It meant that the trainees were also able to participate in three special surgeries - two amputations and one mammary tumor resection.
Alongside the surgical training, the trainees were lectured on course material and received demonstrations and workshops on some of the truck’s equipment, including the autoclave and the x-ray machine.
Although, the programme in Lonavala wasn't without its challenges and uncertainties. Torrential rains of Lonavala, COVID-19 restrictions, and constant power cuts were the major impediments to the project.
The animal handlers had to carry the dogs from the kennel to the operation theatre throughout the day, which was almost 100 meters away, even in the heavy rains.
Despite constant power outages, surgeries continued with the help of handy head torches. The resilience, perseverance, and determination of the entire team - trainers, trainees, and dog catchers - were truly commendable. In Lonavala, it’s safe to say the animals are now in good hands.
Right now, our team is busy at work in the city of Udgir. Check back soon to read about what they get up to in July.
In August, the team will head to Hyderabad and then Bangalore in September, for World Rabies Day. We can't wait to tell you all about it.
This work wouldn't be possible without the support of our local and global partners.
Thank you to Dogs Trust Worldwide, The Marchig Trust Welfare Trust, IPAN and the IDEXX Foundation for your ongoing support. We would also like to thank our local partners IDA, Shivdurga Mitra, the Lonavala Muncipality, COVAS Udgir, Udgir Municipal Council, and Blue Cross of Hyderabad for their collaboration and kind hospitality.