Thursday, 30 October 2008

ICAWC 2008 Presentation: Worldwide Veterinary Service - Luke Gamble

Previous presentation: Changing Behaviour Patterns - Steve Goward

Luke, who reminds me very much of Steve Irwin with his safari gear and unflappable enthusiasm, is the young pioneer behind WVS. WVS provides free veterinary resources to non-profit organisations and animal charities worldwide and has helped 161 charities in 57 countries.

2:50: Luke fills us in on some of the statistics on animals that have been helped. This year saw the launch of the disaster reponse team. Luke's response to people who ask why he doesn't help people is that they are - by caring for animals which carry zoonotic diseases, etc, WVS improves public health.

It's "animal welfare for human welfare". Luke is showing a DVD of a trip to Kenya made this year and will talk about it afterwards. The scenery looks absolutely stunning, and of course the variety of animals to be seen is amazing. But the beautiful, peaceful opening gives way to a more alarming perspective, where people are seen suffering as violence tore the country apart and hundreds of thousands were forced to flee to the sanctuary of camps for displaced people. THis is the point when WVS sent in the new emergency disaster response team. They vaccinated, wormed and treated as many animals as possible in 10 days, crucial farm animals the community would be relying on to help them survive. Dogs, cattle, elephants, donkeys - 8,773 animals were treated in 12 camps over 10 days.

3:00: Luke was grateful for the assistance of the Kenyan governments, whose support was very instrumental in the success of the trip.

However, there were problems with the trip. One dog, which was fitting, was dead by the time the vets were able to examine him. One person trying to get their dog to the site had dragged it alongside a bike, sadly accidentally choking the animal. Why did it happen? These are the things to address to make sure it doesn't happen again.
  • The programme was running slightly late
  • There was poor organisation on the ground, chaos, and poor communication to the locals (for a start, they thought the vaccination had killed the dog)
  • An unclear message causes all sorts of problems
So how can you run a field project better?

3:10: Here are the principles:
  • Know your team
  • Assign roles according to skills
  • Have your permissions - it's imperative, because it makes all the difference, especially for long-term projects
  • Compromise - if you're not allowed to neuter at first, vaccinate instead
  • Have a set plan
  • Make sure the team knows the individual jobs they must do, and understands adopted protocols and policies
  • Try not to get sidetracked
  • Build community support - always plan for a follow up trip
3:15: Luke is also covering Vet Adventure, which is designed to encourage younger vets to get involved. It is now potentially expanding into a social enterprise to appeal to non-vets to generate money and support for charities. It combines work and play, putting together a holiday package with paid work that helps animals and, through animals, people.

Luke's team (all in khakis!) have come with him to offer their expertise, help and information to ICAWC delegates. Vet teams, neutering protocols, medicines, equipment, books, vet assistance and more can be made available to those in need.


Next presentation: Tellington Touch - Sarah Fisher

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