Healing creatures great and small in India

Veterinarian Jack Reece

By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views

Dr. Jack Reece, an English veterinarian, quietly goes about his daily routine tending to a wide range of animals from cats and dogs to peacocks and camels. Based in Jaipur, India, Dr. Reece has been a volunteer veterinarian for Help In Suffering for the past 12 years.

Help in Suffering (HIS), an Indian charitable trust, has championed animal care and welfare in and around Jaipur for the past 30 years. HIS, the two-acre compound on the outskirts of Jaipur, provides shelter and medical treatment for injured and sick dogs, cats, cattle, donkeys, ponies, horses, camels, monkeys, and birds.

“Working to help animals in India is no more or less important than helping animals anywhere else on the planet,” he says. “The plight of animals is global and even in the more prosperous nations of the West there is still much to be done to improve their lot. The big difference is that India is a huge country with a rampant population of street, working, and wild animals and very few resources to help them. That’s why I chose to offer my services here.”

Dr. Reece, who is a recipient of the first Trevor Blackburn Award by the British Veterinary Association for work in the field of animal health and welfare in a developing country, runs the Animal Birth Control (ABC) and Immunization program for HIS along with a team of 35 workers and volunteers. He has helped set up ABC programs in various cities in India and neighboring countries.

Animal Birth Control and Immunization Program

With assistance from the World Society for the Protection of Animals for Animal Birth Control and Immunization programs, Dr. Reece has worked to create a rabies-free street dog population in Jaipur. To date over 68,000 dogs have passed through the program and the incidence of human rabies in Jaipur has been reduced to zero for the past four years.

According to Dr. Reece, 71 percent of the city’s female dogs are now sterilized and 72 percent of the entire street dog population has been vaccinated against rabies. “Visitors to Jaipur report that our street dogs look extremely healthy and friendly, sharply in contrast with other cities and towns of India where such programs are not yet in operation,” he says.

Animal Rescue

HIS also operates an Animal Rescue program that makes at least 10 rescues a day. This includes monkeys (often injured or burnt on power lines), peacocks and raptors, ponies and donkeys, pigs and camels, cattle, dogs, cats and even squirrels.

Funding

Timmie Kumar, HIS managing trustee says that caring for India’s animals is a never-ending endeavor. “We are making progress thanks to many dedicated and kind people who help fund and provide our medical supplies, food and equipment. However, having the resources to keep going and growing is always a challenge. Unfortunately, the only thing that is not in short supply is the number of animals in need.”

HIS receives funding from various government agencies in India as well as donations from groups such as Humane Society International of the USA, Animaux Secours of France, the Marchig Trust and ELSU Foundation of Switzerland, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), and Carpenter Trust of Great Britain.

HIS has organized an Adopt a Pet program, and also sells postcards of animals online as a means to raise funds. For more information, click here.

Volunteer Vets

HIS accepts experienced or newly qualified veterinary surgeons to assist with surgery, radiography, treatment or nursing care. The organization prefers a minimum stay of three months. Veterinary students are also welcome and will find plenty of opportunity for “hands on experience.”

Because of funding challenges, HIS requires volunteers to pay for their own transportation, accommodations, and meals. Veterinary surgeons and veterinary students interested in volunteering should e-mail Dr. Reece at jack@his-india.in.

“At HIS we gladly share duties and responsibilities to look after the animals in this part of the world,” says Dr. Reece. “It is a labor of love. We get immense satisfaction from what we do, and enjoy a strong bond of friendship among ourselves in helping the animals of Jaipur.”