A vet has returned from an overseas mercy mission to help sick and injured dogs.
Laura Gillis of Westway Veterinary Group in Newcastle-upon-Tyne spent two weeks in Sri Lanka neutering, vaccinating and treating diseased and neglected strays.
The visit was set up by friend and Westway colleague Janey Lowes, who has been volunteering in Sri Lanka for nearly two years and founded the charity WECare Worldwide.
Sri Lanka is home to around three million roaming dogs, many of which suffer from serious cases of mange, tumours, broken bones, wounds, malnutrition and diseases.
Together, Miss Gillis and Dr Lowes neutered and vaccinated 240 dogs over four days at a pop-up clinic, before travelling around in WECare’s tuk-tuk catching injured and sick dogs for treatment.
Miss Gillis said: “The operations, though routine and something we do daily in the UK, threw up some challenging situations. A lot of the animals have underlying diseases, meaning they can bleed a lot during surgery, so we had to be confident with our technique and ligatures.
“Apart from surgical challenges, there was also the heat and humidity to deal with, and the locals who provided an intimidating audience crowding around the surgical area watching us operate.”
Westway donated £10,000 as a start-up fund for the work of WECare in Sri Lanka and Miss Gillis travelled to the island with bandages, surgical instruments, flea and worming products and other supplies.
She said: “The hardest thing I saw in Sri Lanka was an injured dog that had extensive injuries to its mouth and head after coming across an explosive trap set out for wild boar. The dog appeared to be in excruciating pain, but had been left for almost a whole day before receiving treatment.
“Unfortunately, the dog was euthanised, but not before first convincing the owners of the benefits, as euthanasia is frowned upon in the Buddhist culture and the majority of people refuse to help stop animal suffering in this way.
“The trip opened my eyes to the hard lives some animals live and made me realise how lucky my two cocker spaniels are.”