Charlene Phillips, a final year veterinary student at the Royal Veterinary College, has returned from a two week project to care for stray dogs and cats on the Greek island of Samos.

Charlene Phillips, a final year veterinary student at the Royal Veterinary College, has returned from a two week project to care for stray dogs and cats on the Greek island of Samos.

Miss Phillips was part of a veterinary team of two vets, four students and a nurse organised by veterinary charity Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS) and was able to participate thanks to a grant from vaccine manufacturer Fort Dodge’s University Programme.

Charlene Phillips (final year RVC student) neutering a bitchMiss Phillips’s team worked at Animal Care Samos, an animal shelter on the island, which cares for the many stray dogs and cats on the island. The strays live mainly in the mountains close to villages and army camps and come to the major tourist areas in the summer to search for food.

Many of the dogs cared for by the shelter have been rescued from atrocious conditions on Samos or neighbouring islands. Animal Care Samos runs a neutering programme for the feral and stray animals and provides treatment for those which are sick. It encourages local residents to bring their animals to be neutered as there is no permanent vet on Samos. Where possible it also rehomes stray and abandoned dogs, often to mainland Europe.

Commenting on her time in Samos, Miss Phillips said: “We carried out a huge number of neuters, many of which were complicated because the dogs were carrying ehrlichiosis, a tick-born disease of dogs characterised by fever, lethargy, lameness and/or bleeding and can cause haemorrhage during neutering.

“We carried out other procedures, including a tail amputation on a cat with an abscess; demodex treatment in a cat, extra dew claw removals and a splenectomy. We also carried out multiple blood sampling to test for leishmania, a major problem on the island.”

“The WVS team handled all of the neuters on dogs which had arrived at the shelter over the previous three months, as well as carrying out some neuters of stray or privately owned cat. It’s clear that each WVS team which visits Samos makes a positive impact in helping reduce the number of strays.”

Miss Phillips also had the opportunity to visit the dog shelter to see where the dogs were kept after her team had neutered them, and to meet the volunteers who care for them.

She said: “It was such a touching experience – the work those people put in is admirable and the dogs are well looked after even in the hardest of circumstances.

“Joeri, the director of the charity, has given his whole life over to caring for these dogs and is fighting constantly for their welfare.  As a veterinary student it has given me the chance to further my surgical skills and to contribute to a hugely worthy cause. The locals were well aware of WVS’s work and were so grateful that we came over to help.   I’m grateful to Fort Dodge for helping me gain this experience.”

 


 

Worldwide Veterinary Service is a charity which supplies veterinary resources, in the form of volunteer teams, drugs, equipment and advice to help animal charities and non-profit organisations around the world. Fort Dodge Animal Health, part of Pfizer Animal Health, is a leading manufacturer and distributor of animal healthcare and veterinary products for companion and large animals.

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