One of the best things about my veterinary degree is that I can work worldwide. With many of my friends making the move early in their careers to work abroad, I followed in 2014.
My first stop was India. I had heard a lot about a charity called Mission Rabies and was keen to help out so signed up for two weeks in Goa.
After landing at the airport, we headed off to Panjim. Travelling through India is an experience, dodging the roundabouts of cows, and the lack of organisation was a taste of what was to come.
For the first week we were working in an animal shelter behind a recycling centre. Our operating theatre was far from the standards of the UK — we had a tarpaulin cover with string up lights, our scrub sink was a tap, and our sharps’ bin was a coke bottle attached to the wall — never mind that dogs were not under gaseous anaesthetic.
It took a bit of getting used to, but the standards for field surgery were pretty good. We were managing 30 to 40 dogs a day. Surgery was fast paced, but stopped intermittently when the electricity went off, sending everyone running for head torches.
The second week we moved to a local veterinary clinic in Ponda. I enjoyed this more as you had a mix of owned dogs, normally a posh pedigree, and the street dogs.
I saw three rabid dogs in the clinic. The vet took great delight in showing me one and his primitive method of diagnosis. I also saw cases of distemper, something we rarely see in the UK because we vaccinate, as well as testicular worms.
Mission Rabies is trying to vaccinate 70 per cent of dogs in the Goa region. It aims to stop the spread of rabies from animals to people by vaccinating and neutering dogs, and educating people, especially children who are most at risk of contracting rabies. It is a horrible disease that we are fortunate not to have in the UK.
After India I moved to a small animal clinic in Australia.
I had to deal with snake bites, as well as look for the paralysis tick, which can leave a dog unable to move or breathe. This was coupled with treating “drunk” rainbow lorikeets, huge goannas involved in road accidents and poorly sea turtles.
Living in Australia and then New Zealand, I also got to see lots of amazing wildlife.
Working abroad is definitely the best thing I have done as a vet.
By Alison Knight, Vet.