IAR Trustee Lisa tells her story to The Sunday People in moving appeal for funds to help animals
15 June 2014 - In an interview in The Sunday People newspaper today IAR Trustee Lisa Milella talks movingly about her involvement with the charity and explains why she is urging readers to support her fundraising appeal.
Over the past ten years Lisa, a European specialist in veterinary dentistry, has paid regular visits to International Animal Rescue’s projects in India and Indonesia to treat animals with agonising dental problems caused by human abuse or neglect. Tragically, however, Lisa was recently diagnosed with motor neurone disease. Already her condition is deteriorating. She has had to close her veterinary dental practice and is no longer able to operate. Instead she has been using her skills and expertise to coach local vets at IAR’s rescue centres so that they can carry on her work.
Having had to accept that she can no longer give ‘hands on’ support to the charity, Lisa has chosen instead to make number 10 on her bucket list of ambitions a fundraising campaign. She explains: “I’m hoping that 100 people will be inspired by my story and go out and raise £100 with their family and friends for International Animal Rescue.
"I hope that people will read my story and want to do something positive with their lives too - whether it's making cakes for a fete or raising money doing a run. I'm never going to get better and today is as strong as I'm ever going to be. So you've really got to make the most of now and not worry about what's going to happen tomorrow.”
Lisa first became involved with International Animal Rescue in 2005 when Trustee and human dentist Paul Cassar contacted her and enlisted her help treating former dancing bears in India. The bears’ captors knock out their teeth with an iron bar to make them easier to control, causing agonising abscesses, infection and tumours. During their first seven day visit to IAR’s Agra Bear Sanctuary, the pair worked round the clock to remove or repair as many bears’ teeth as possible, carrying out lengthy root canal treatment on the majority of their patients.
Regular return trips to Agra followed and Lisa and Paul also took time to treat bears at IAR’s second sanctuary in Bannerghatta in the south of India. A few years later Lisa travelled to IAR’s Primate Rehabilitation Centre in Java to treat slow lorises rescued from the illegal pet trade that had had their teeth clipped off to make them easier to sell as pets. Other visits followed and included treatment of two tigers and a leopard. Poignantly, it was only after learning of her illness that, as part of her bucket list of ambitions, Lisa found time to travel to IAR’s orangutan centre in West Borneo and supervise the treatment of Pingky, a diabetic orangutan with a mouthful of rotten teeth and infected gums.
Alan Knight, Chief Executive of International Animal Rescue, said: “Over the years Lisa has made an invaluable contribution to the work of International Animal Rescue. There are few people like her, personally or professionally. I have always had great respect for her skills and expertise, now I am equally in awe of her emotional strength and courage in the face of a terrible personal tragedy. She is a great friend to International Animal Rescue and to me personally and an inspiration to us all.
I hope many of the Sunday People's readers will also be moved by her story and make a donation. I can guarantee that every penny raised will be put to good use treating and caring for the animals we rescue. No one deserves to be supported more than Lisa so I do urge everyone please to give whatever you can and make Lisa’s last bucket list ambition come true!” http://www.justgiving.com/Lisa-Milella-100