Creating a Brighter Future for Vets in China
This post comes from Dr. Kati Loeffler, an IFAW veterinary advisor who currently works out of IFAW’s office in China.
Ten years ago, IFAW supported the establishment of Zhang LuPing’s shelter, the Beijing Human Animal Environmental Education Center (BHAEEC). The center rescues dogs and cats and provides them with shelter and veterinary care. Currently, the shelter houses some 450 dogs and 50 cats, and struggles each day with a growing flood of abandoned and unwanted animals.
One of the challenges to BHAEEC, and across China, is the lack of available professional veterinary care. To address this need, IFAW-China has recently begun an effort in capacity building for local veterinarians, veterinary nurses, and veterinary students in order to improve the quality of veterinary care that is practiced.
Integral to this, and perhaps most challenging, is teaching an understanding of, and skills in, animal welfare in veterinary practice and in animal guardianship. The program is carried out through hands-on spay and neuter surgery practice. As such, the training sessions encompasses everything from humane animal handling, nursing skills, clinical assessment of patients, anaesthesia, surgery, emergency intervention, physiologic monitoring, diagnostic skills, post-surgical care, and continual management of stress in patients.
Conducted by myself, with the help of Ms. Li Ying (“Linda”), a raptor rehabilitator with veterinary nursing skills at IFAW’s BRRC, the training at BHAEEC took place in two sessions: a lecture presentation and practical training. The shelter’s veterinary officer, Xiao Yu, two Beijing veterinarians that serve the BHAEEC, and three veterinary students from the China Agriculture University attended the lecture training in early December.
A week later, two veterinarians and the veterinary students undertook the 2-day practical training with dogs and cats that had been rescued by BHAEEC and that were awaiting sterilization surgery. In the course of the on-site training at the BHAEEC, sick animals at the shelter were examined in a method conducive to teaching. This provided a valuable opportunity for the trainees to learn principles of physical examination, disease diagnosis, physiology and pathology, and development of case management plans.
As the third step in the capacity building program, Linda and I plan to pay regular follow-up visits to the shelter to work with Xiao Yu in reinforcing skills and principles, and to further his training.
It was chilly outside, but warm inside the clinical area at the shelter, where dogs and cats recovering from anaesthesia lay tucked in soft blankets near a heater, with a nurse stroking their ears and fussing over their needs. All of the trainees and Zhang LuPing expressed sincere appreciation for the training sessions.
Zhang LuPing hopes that the capacity building collaboration between IFAW and her shelter may continue. Of course, it will take some time before the trainees are able to effectively practice their new skills and to maintain the protocols and standards that IFAW’s team introduced. Their interest and eagerness to learn are, however, heartening, and show promise for the development of the veterinary profession in China.
-- Dr. Kati Loeffler; filed by Hanna Lentz
For more information on our efforts to help save animals in crisis around the world, visit www.ifaw.org