WHEN veterinary nurse Livvy Peters read of the plight of stray dogs in Borneo, the call was too strong to resist.
She left her job at The Woodland Veterinary Surgery in Midhurst and flew off for an eight week unpaid secondment.
Livvy is already preparing for her return at the end of July - this time for seven months.
“I read about the charity helping the dogs quite by chance while at work in the surgery,” said Livvy, “I wasn’t really considering going anywhere at the time, but I had a really big think about it and emailed the charity and four weeks later I had signed up.
“I tend to live my life like that, it’s something I really wanted to do and so I decided to go for it.”
Livvy, whose family home is in Worthing, studied animal care at Brinsbury College and was then taken on as a student veterinary nurse by Andrew Mitchell at the Woodland Surgery in 2010.
She qualified last year and intended to stay on in Midhurst.
But it was a chance browse through the Veterinary Nursing Times that changed her life.
She read of the IAFWA (International Aid for the Protection and Welfare of Animals), which had been set up only last year by a former veterinary nurse, Nicky Stevens.
“She had visited Borneo and seen the problem of stray dogs there and felt she had to do something about it,” said Livvy, “and she was urgently appealing for nurses.”
Livvy joined two vets and two other nurses in the city of Kota Kinabalu who were all giving their services free of charge.
They lived together in a house outside the city and worked all day in a dog pound taken over by the charity from the city council.
“The problem is that literally thousands of dogs are roaming the streets. About 99 per cent of them are not neutered and the population of stray dogs is soaring.
“It’s not a wealthy area and people don’t treat their dogs like we do here, living inside with us.
“They are kept outside and many run away.
“You can’t walk down any street without seeing about 20 stray dogs. Many have skin infections and malnutrition. Some are starving.
“It broke my heart to see them and that’s why I want to go back and help again.”
The main task is to capture the dogs, treat their conditions and neuter them.
There is only limited space at the pound and so the dogs have to be released back onto the streets.
“But at least they have been treated and cannot breed.
“In the eight weeks I was there we neutered about 172 dogs,” said Livvy, “it’s a huge task we have to do to try and solve the problem but I feel I have to help.”
Already the charity is raising funds to extend the pound and provide more facilities to treat larger numbers of dogs at once.
Anyone who would like to donate to the charity should visit www.IAPWA.org
Any surgeries in the area which would like to donate supplies such as bandage material, respiratory tubes or syringes should contact Livvy at the Woodland Veterinary Centre, Midhurst.
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