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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Lessons learned in the USA

By Dr Astrid G. Almeida, BVSc, AH, MVSc (Surg), Veterinary Director, Goa

Dr Astrid G. Almeida of Animal Tracks, Goa, went on a veterinary training trip to the USA. This was sponsored by IAR and organised by Dr Jeff Young - here she describes her experience.

Astrid learning the ropes in MontanaI arrived in Denver on 17 July 2001 to be greeted at the airport by one of Jeff’s vets, Dr Rosto. I spent 18 and 19 July working at Jeff’s clinic where I learnt about the gas machine and worked with it for the first time, using Isoflurane. We had been taught about the gas machine at college but I lacked practical knowledge and experience. Early in the morning on the 20 we left for the state of Montana. Jean Attowe arranges sterilisation camps in the Native American reservations, and this time she had set up a two-day camp at Fortpeck, Wolfpoint, FortBelknap and Rockyboys. Her bright yellow van with STOP (Stop Pet Overpopulation Today) moves from one camp to another carrying all the medicines, anaesthetic machines, tables and cages.

At each camp about 150-200 animals are sterilised, including young puppies. Each camp was divided between dogs and cats. I was working with dogs with Dr Jeff who did most of the nursing and a few operations, Dr Harshman and Dr Rosto. Katarina, a vet student from Slovakia, helped with the nursing and a few operations. During the camps I gained valuable experience using the gas machine, and using a different pre-anaesthetic called Tilazol. I also learnt that I could operate on very young puppies without any major side effects. I performed an ovariohysterectomy on a two month old puppy. It was the youngest of all the spays I undertook at the camp.

In one day I performed 18 sterilisations which made me realise that, if we had a gas machine, a well trained nurse and we kept the animals to be operated on just outside the surgery, we could do the same number in Goa. I also learnt how to use an inverted suture, which is faster, and the dogs cannot pull it out. In young male dogs glue was used after castration instead of stitches. On our way back after the camps we visited Glacier and Yellow Stone National park. I spent four days working with Jeff and his vets at the Planned Pethood Plus clinic. At Jeff’s clinc, I assisted him in two orthopaedic surgeries. I performed an enterotomy with Dr Rosto and I watched orthopaedic surgery performed by Dr Add, an orthopaedic surgeon.

All in all, this was an invaluable experience and Dr Jeff’s guidance and motivation were a great boost to my morale. I would like to thank Dr Jeff on behalf of IAR for giving me such a wonderful and unforgettable opportunity.