India: Summer Adventures of the All-Terrain Clinic

India: Summer Adventures of the All-Terrain Clinic

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. It allows us to deliver world-class surgical training courses and humane dog population control beyond our clinics in India.

Since our work began in India in partnership with our sister charity Mission Rabies, the All-Terrain Clinic (ATC) has been a flagship for the cause.

How it Started

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.

A Mobile Hospital

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.

2021: An Action-Packed Monsoon

In 2021, the ATC travelled over 2,400kms across five states of India to deliver surgical training to 72 vets and 13 veterinary assistants, sterilise over 500 dogs, as well as support 10-12 local educational institutions and animal welfare groups.

First Stop: Lonavala

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.

"I am absolutely in love with the truck! I am glad to have been a part of this training."

- Dr Atharv, Participant

“I always wanted to learn basics of surgery and what better place than WVS."

- Dr Aardra, Participant

"It is a welcome change to be at a new location and serve the community with the help of our fully equipped truck."

- Dr Meera, Junior Vet, WVS

Second Stop: Udgir

In July, the ATC travelled 500km to the city of Udgir in the Indian state of Maharashtra. In collaboration with the Udgir Veterinary College and Udgir Municipality, we ran training courses for local veterinary trainees and government workers. Everything from humane dog handling to castration surgery preparation to ensure the local teams were running the dog population management programme in the best way possible.

"I am so glad WVS was able to come all the way to us and teach us here in Udgir.”

- Dr Trudy, Participant

"It was a very valuable experience to me.”

-Dr Ganesh, Participant

Third Stop: Hyderabad

In August, the ATC arrived in the capital city of Telangana state, Hyderabad. Joining forces with Blue Cross of Hyderabad and the Greater Hyderabad Municipality, we provided training to local veterinarians in a range of subjects, including rabies control, radiography, post-mortem practices, and animal welfare.

We also held a programme for local animal activists and dog feeders, which covered everything from ethics to euthanasia.

Fourth Stop: Bangalore

In September, the ATC travelled 570kms to the capital of Karnataka state, the Silicon Valley of India, Bengaluru. With the help of the local government authority, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), and the local NGOs Asra and CARE, we ran surgical training courses, tailed for both veterinarians and veterinary technicians.

Fifth Stop: Gokarna

In Cotober, the ATC completed its tour with a surgical training programme and dog sterilisation campaign in Gokarna, a coastal town of Karnataka state. The town is 60km from the nearest city and lacks adequate veterinary services.

For several years, a local Ashram, Shankar Prasad Foundation, has been working to establish an animal care centre to provide much-needed veterinary care for free-roaming dogs and cats. In 2020, they heard about the ATC and were keen to host a programme to deliver veterinary care to the dogs and cats in the area.

2021: A Winning Year

Despite the many challenges of 2021, the team worked tirelessly to reach the target of 2,500 sterilisations and deliver training to 85 vets and veterinary assistants - ensuring the truck continues ever forwards in our mission to ignite interest for One Health and animal welfare issues in the veterinary profession, the public and governments and drive change through a vehicle of inspiration and a tank-full of passion.

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 for their collaboration and kind hospitality.

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