One of our volunteer vets, Hannah Macadam recently spent some time at our ITC and Dog Shelter in Thailand and kindly blogged about her experience below:
"I love Thailand; the people are kind and welcoming, it is beautiful, easy to travel around, cheap, the food is great and there is something for everyone whether you like sightseeing, hiking, shopping, diving or chilling out on the beach. So I jumped at the opportunity to spend five weeks at the Thailand ITC / WVS Dog shelter in Chiang Mai, Thailand’s northern capital, on my way to spend a year in Australia. I was nervous to start, as it is always a big unknown what a shelter will be like, who you will meet, where you will be staying, but I didn’t need to worry!
The volunteer house is great and has everything you would need. We mainly ate out at local markets for dinner, but the house has all of the facilities to cook and eat in. There is also access to a gym and swimming pool in the complex and you can take local taxis into Chiang Mai centre quite easily. The ‘commute’ to work is idyllic, past numerous rice paddies and the shelter is also in a beautiful setting. The team was very welcoming and so generous with their time, helping us choose meals so that we could try new foods, teaching us some Thai and taking us hiking or to new places for dinner or shopping. We also had a lovely weekend exploring the numerous sights around Chiang Mai and going further north to Chiang Rai, seeing hot springs, waterfalls, lakes and temples!
It is mainly dogs that are seen and treated at the shelter; commonly suffering from trauma cases such as road traffic accidents and dogfight wounds, many with skin conditions, tick-bourne and other infectious diseases and transmissible venereal tumours (TVT). Neutering of cats and dogs takes place every day at the shelter and occasionally other surgeries such as amputations, stitch ups, enucleations and mass removals. As a volunteer vet, I was able to carry out many of these surgeries and be actively involved in the rescue cases coming into the shelter. The nurses are very hands-on, preparing patients for surgeries, cleaning wounds, bandaging and helping with post-operative care.
The Thailand ITC is becoming increasingly active in their outreach projects and during my stay I took part in a weeklong mobile clinic in Pai, a town a few hours away. The set up was not as basic as you would expect; the team of vets, nurses, dog catchers and administrators is a well-oiled machine that can turn an empty temple space into a functioning, mobile clinic in a couple of hours. We were so well looked after by the local charity and community who were extremely grateful to the WVS team for their time and support to sterilise and vaccinate street and owned dogs, especially as distemper within the dog population had recently been a big problem in the surrounding villages. The days were tiring and busy, but I already can’t wait to work with the WVS on another mobile clinic!
My time at the ITC in Thailand was a great opportunity to develop surgical skills and neutering techniques, get involved with management of cases within a shelter setting, without the aid of many of the diagnostic tests we often take for granted in practices at home and hopefully be of some help to a very worthwhile cause. I experienced parts of Thailand that I previously hadn’t, made new friends both within Thailand and with international volunteers and very much hope I will have the opportunity to visit the ITC again in the future."
Would you like to volunteer in Thailand? Apply via the button below.