CEO’s message April 2020

By | 2020-04-13T15:22:22+10:00 April 8th, 2020|News|

CEO’s message to all our donors, volunteers and supporters 

Welcome to our April Newsletter

It has been a very challenging quarter for us all – the immense destruction reaped by the Australian bushfires, now dwarfed, in many respects, by the global COVID-19 crisis. However, our volunteers and partners in Australia and around the world continue caring for animals in need. We thank you for your hard work in these difficult times!

Maryann Dalton stepped down as Chief Executive Officer of Vets Beyond Borders earlier this year and I have been given the privilege of filling this role. On behalf of the Directors and staff, we thank Maryann for her commitment to VBB and wish her all the very best in her future endeavours.

We also farewell and welcome new members of the Board and team.

Whilst unprecedented steps are being taken to control the global COVID-19 outbreak, we must not forget that some of these measures are having major impacts on the welfare of animals worldwide.

As with the bushfires in Australia, the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to leave animals hungry. In many countries around the world, tourism and associated industries, especially restaurants and food stores, generate food scraps that are the basic staple of street-dwelling animals such as dogs, cows and donkeys. Without this food source, these animals are at risk of starvation.

During these challenging times, Vets Beyond Borders remains committed to providing support to our Partner Organisations in Australia and around the world, as they strive to provide food and essential veterinary care to animals in need.

VBB’s AVERT volunteers and wildlife rescue organisations in Australia continue to provide for the immediate and ongoing needs of wildlife following the deadly summer bushfires. We remain vigilant and as active as possible, providing care for affected animals. Whilst we are not deploying volunteers overseas at present, we stand ready to resume our VetMatch and VetTrain programs as soon as the world recovers from this difficult time.

This newsletter will fill you in on our recent activities, as well as providing news from our Partner Organisations across the globe as they keep up the good fight on your behalf!

VBB extends heartfelt thanks to all its volunteers, members and donors for their ongoing support. Without your donations and the time dedicated by our amazing volunteers, the care we and our Partner Organisations provide to animals around the world could not continue.

Dr Sally Colgan, CEO
Vets Beyond Borders

Photo credit: COVID19 credit Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

Global Volunteer Deployment Suspended

Due to the current global COVID-19 situation, Vets Beyond Borders Board has suspended volunteer deployment to all partner projects. This suspension will remain in place until further notice.

When Australian state borders were closed on March 24, interstate deployment of VBB’s Australian Veterinary Emergency Response Team (AVERT) volunteers was also immediately discontinued.

We will notify members via email and social media as soon as it is safe to resume normal operations.

Please refer to the Department of Health website for more information…/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert

If you would like further information on our AVERT program, please contact our AVERT coordinator, Robert Leach, on

Photo Credit: Live to Rescue
This photograph, taken at the municipal tip in Leh, Ladakh, shows the scale of the street dog population in the local area. 
VBB Partners working to prevent an animal welfare crisis during COVID-19

The plight of companion and street animals in some countries has become an emerging issue since the Coronavirus outbreak. Reportedly, companion animals are being abandoned as a result of COVID-19 misinformation incriminating animals in the spread of the disease. Street animals are at risk of starving due to a lockdown of businesses that previously provided them with food.

In India, many animals, including dogs, cats, cattle, donkeys and goats, depend on restaurants and hotels around cities, towns and villages as a main source of food. In the Himalaya, activity in these establishments is very much dependent on tourism. At the present time, visitors are staying away due to travel restrictions.

In Ladakh, our friends at SPCA and Live to Rescue have been feeding the street animals, but because of hotel and restaurant shutdowns, food is scarce and animals are suffering. Recently, the SPCA received a donation from the Himalayan Nature Club of 100,000 rupees (approx. AU$2,150) to purchase food for these animals.

Elsewhere in India, volunteers with Animals and US, an organisation working closely with VBB’s Sikkim Anti-Rabies & Animal Health (SARAH) program, are preparing and distributing food for the street dogs of Sikkim during the lockdown.

Volunteers from another Partner Organisation, Just Be Friendly (JBF), are directly assisting animal welfare efforts, providing food to Assam Police and The Paw Foundation to feed to street animals in Guwahati, Assam.

A Cambodian Partner Organisation, PPAWS in Phnom Penh, is feeling the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. They have put on hold all of their outbound missions and are concentrating on keeping their two clinics open, to help clients with sick animals and any injured/stray animals that may be brought in.

VBB VetMatch Cambodia coordinator Alan Sinfield at PPAWS said, “Presently there is no major lock down on travel, so to the best of our knowledge, the volunteers who go out and help the Monks with caring and feeding for animals at the Pagodas, for example, are still doing so. We are still supporting them with medical care wherever we are needed and handling all the usual requests for support that we receive when animals are spotted on the streets. This will change if hard restrictions on travel are introduced.”

Amidst the COVID-19 human health crisis we continue our efforts to minimise animal welfare impacts and commend the efforts of all our Partner Organisations, including those in Sikkim, Ladakh and Cambodia.

VBB AVERT comes to the aid of wildlife caught up in the Australian bushfires

Countless animals, both domesticated species and wildlife, perished during Australia’s horrific summer bushfire season. Survivors were displaced from their habitat and commonly found to have sustained injuries and to be suffering from malnutrition.

Many hundreds of vets and vet nurses from Australia and around the world registered to volunteer with VBB’s Australian Veterinary Emergency Response Team (AVERT), which continues to assist government authorities and wildlife rescue groups, providing veterinary volunteers to deliver care to animals impacted by the fires.

We offer our sincere thanks to Jetstar for offering no-cost flights for AVERT volunteers so they can get to where they need to be and continue their important work in wildlife rescue and recovery.

Bushfires in all affected states have been extinguished, but there is an ongoing need to provide veterinary care to large numbers of affected animals, especially wildlife. We extend heartfelt thanks to all our volunteers, members and donors for their ongoing support in these difficult times.

If you have questions regarding AVERT volunteering, please contact our AVERT coordinator Robert Leach on

AVERT Volunteer Spotlight!

Cat Drew, Vet Nurse
Australian vet nurse Candice (aka Cat) Drew travelled to NSW’s South Coast (thanks to Jetstar’s free flight offer for AVERT volunteers) to work at the Wandandian Kangaroo and Wallaby Sanctuary, run by Wildlife Rescue South Coast Inc.

Cat said, “Wildlife have suffered a huge trauma: they’ve lost their home and the joeys are all orphans. They had no previous contact with people, and we need to remember that these are wild animals, not pets. Even the process of being here and undergoing treatment is traumatic for them, and we have lost some to Capture Myopathy. We try to give them the contact and TLC they need, without reducing their ability to survive once released. I’ve become so attached to my patients and really hope they get to be released and make it.”
To read about Cat’s volunteer experience, please click here.
Dr Kathryn Loughlin, Veterinarian

Australian VBB AVERT wildlife veterinarian Dr Kathryn Loughlin volunteered with LAOKO (Looking After Our Kosciuszko Orphans) in Cooma NSW as part of a team of international veterinary volunteers.
Dr Loughlin said she was blown away by the resilience and determination of the mountain community to pull together and stick it out, as well as the incredible outpouring of support from people all over the world.

For more volunteer stories, please visit

VBB VetTrain Volunteers India-bound

Vets Beyond Borders’ VetTrain volunteer instructors, Dr Natasha Lees and Dr Mark Booth, travelled to India to present at an International Workshop on advances in diagnosis and treatment of ruminal disorders of cattle at the end of the month.

The workshop was organised by the Indian Buiatricians Association and the Commonwealth Veterinary Association in collaboration with VBB and held at the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries Sciences University in Shivamogga, in the Indian state of Karnataka.

Dr Lees and Dr Booth presented a series of lectures to Indian cattle vets on anatomy, anaesthesia and surgery of the abdomen of cattle, and ran practical workshops on rumenocentesis, nasogastric entubation, abdominocentesis, rumen fluid examination, rumenotomy and abomasal displacement correction.

For their story, visit here.

For more information on VetTrain, please click here.

Dear VBB Diary… news from SARAH in India

An excerpt from the diary of VBB life member and veterinarian Dr Alan Sherlock who recently returned to his home in Australia from Sikkim, India, where he volunteered with VBB’s Sikkim Anti-Rabies & Animal Health (SARAH) program.

We are happy to hear Dr Alan has made it home safe and feeling well during self-quarantine.
“April 2020 – This has been my 11th trip to Sikkim so I guess that means I have spent about 18 months total there.  I am beginning to think of Sikkim as my second home (which many of my friends over here say to me) AND it very nearly became my first home. Goodness knows how long I might have had to stay there if I didn’t make it out last week!
During my four-week deployment, because we were mostly on field camps, all of our surgery was desexing. My total for the trip was about 155 dogs. I like to get around 300 normally, but for one reason or another it was less this year. One factor being time taken up training Vets and Paravets, which in the long term is far more important than the desexing numbers I achieve.
I also had two interesting tumour cases – one involving a big lump on a dog’s back leg at Namchi and the other were breast tumours on an old dog at Gangtok. They were fascinating largely because they were both so advanced; something we don’t see in Australia any more in general practice…..
….. Despite my initial concern with the likely poor outcome, in both cases the dogs seemed to do well and I’m guessing all the tumours were localised (no metastasis to other organs).”