VBB lifelong member veterinarian Dr Alan Sherlock recently returned from his 11th annual volunteer trip to Sikkim, India – a land of breathtaking Himalayan scenery that he’s beginning to think of as his second home – and nearly became his ‘first home’ when the COVID19 crisis led to the shutting down of borders and flights back home to Australia.
In Sikkim, Dr Sherlock supports a team of vets, paravets and staff on the SARAH (Sikkim Anti-Rabies and Animal Health) program, a collaboration between VBB, the Government of Sikkim and Fondation Brigitte Bardot. Program activities include administering rabies vaccinations, dog population control, via their desexing clinic, delivering vitally important community education programs and providing veterinary treatment for sick and injured animals.
Dr Sherlock spent most of his time in field camps performing desexing surgeries and training vets and para-veterinary staff. He performed 155 desexing surgeries during his short visit.
Dr Sherlock singled out two cases as highlights, both involving dogs with cancer. One dog had a very big tumour on his back leg and another old dog had a mammary gland tumour.
“I found these cases interesting largely because they were both so advanced – something we don’t commonly see in general practice in Australia these days,” he said. “In the western world we are lucky that owners are very vigilant, bringing small lumps and bumps to the attention of their vet early, which can often lead to early detection and treatment, giving the dog the best chance at survival and a long and pain free life. This is not always the case in countries with fewer resources.”
Both dogs recovered well from surgery.
“Even though we will probably never know the long-term outcome of these two dogs, we do know that they were both much more comfortable with these tumours removed, and that removal improved their quality of life,” he said.
During his time in Sikkim, Dr Sherlock felt safe from the spread of the coronavirus as he had little contact with the outside world. But he decided returning to Australia was a good idea! After days of delays, cancellations and detours, Dr Sherlock finally made it through the Sikkimese Border in the middle of the night and caught a flight back home.
“Goodness knows how long I might have had to stay in Sikkim if I didn’t make it out when I did,” he said during his two-week mandatory isolation back at home.
We are glad you made it home safe and well, Dr Sherlock!