Opinion Former Article

RSPCA: A shell of a clinic transformed to state-of-the-art vets

A new era for animal welfare in Malawi animals

A dog hit by a car and a baby squirrel with parasites under its skin are among the animals who owe their lives to the only charity vet service in Malawi, newly-transformed thanks to the RSPCA.

The African country, one of the poorest in the world, has also seen its first ever convictions for animal cruelty leading some to herald it a new era for animal welfare.

Despite having a population of 13 million, Malawi has only three practising vets and the LSPCA (Lilongwe Society for the Protection and Care of Animals) is the only welfare charity and veterinary clinic to offer free treatment.

It has until recently been battling to save animals from a shell of a building and mobile clinics with no electricity or running water, but last month almost £100,000 worth of donations from the RSPCAs Clinic in a Box initiative transformed the fledgling animal centre into a fully-equipped vet surgery.

There is now a proper operating table where before there was a wooden fold-out. An x-ray machine, scales and blood analysers where before there was no diagnostic equipment. And where there were once empty shelves, there are now cupboards full of supplies such as bandages, surgical instruments and medicines.

Dr Richard Ssuna, chief vet of the LSPCA, said: I am over the moon with this new clinic it is going to make such a difference to us and so many more animal lives can now be saved.

We had absolutely nothing in our rooms before. We had to make do with basic supplies and, no x-ray or blood machines.

It is a groundbreaking and exciting new era for animal welfare in Malawi - I feel so proud the country is really turning this corner. Not only is this the first kitted-out clinic offering free treatments, but for the first time ever four people have been found guilty of animal cruelty."

The metamorphosis of the LSPCA clinic came within weeks of the first successful prosecution of animal cruelty, after two men were fined and given community service for selling kittens and puppies by the side of the road. Baby animals treated in this way are often taken from their mothers too young and suffer from malnutrition, thirst and poor handling from being held up for sale in the extreme heat of the African sun.

The equipment was shipped over from the UK after financial and in-kind donations were raised by the RSPCA, and has already made quite a difference to several animal lives.

Scruffy, a terrier cross, was in great pain after being hit by a car. He was taken to the LSPCA where a new x-ray machine revealed his ribs were fractured and air was getting trapped. Thanks to the newly-fitted equipment, scruffy got the treatment he needed and survived.

A baby squirrel with putsi fly larvae under his skin was also taken to the revamped surgery to have it removed with the help of a new anaesthetic machine.

Notes to editors

—The LSPCA provides care for strays, farm animals and wildlife as well as providing vet care for privately owned pets in order to subsidise its charity work.
—There are two volunteer opportunities with the LSPCA. Africa Vet Experience is aimed at vet students needing a placement as part of their studies. In addition, a programme has been set up for already-qualified vets to spend a period of time helping the clinic and gaining work experience. Please contact the press office for more information.
—For images of the clinic before and after the equipment arrived, and of Scruffy and the squirrel who were rescued, please contact the press office.
—Interviews with Dr Richard Ssuna are available via phone or email. First-hand impressions are also available from a Scottish vet who helped set the equipment up and train the staff in how to use it.

 

RSPCA, Wilberforce Way, Southwater, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 9RS
Press office direct lines: 0300 123 0244/0288 Fax: 0303 123 0099
Duty press officer (evenings and weekends) Tel 08448 222888 and ask for pager number 828825
Email: press@rspca.org.uk Website: www.rspca.org.uk

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