I'm about to enter my final year in vet school and decided to get some work experience at a shelter in India.

The shelter is funded by Jains, who believe it is wrong to kill any animal for any reason (even killing a fly is not allowed). As a result, the shelter is filled with extremely injured animals, like paralyzed dogs/monkeys, those with multiple broken limbs/open joints, even confirmed rabies cases were left to die of 'natural causes.'

The shelter mainly deals with street animals that are brought in by well meaning people from the area, and also responds to calls dealing with street animals in the city itself with a mobile clinic. We dealt with an extremely diverse number of species, including goats, cows, hawks, monkeys, turtles, etc.

Overall it was a very positive experience for me, but it was certainly a very difficult time emotionally as well. AMA!

(proof sent to mods since I'd rather not name the organization publicly)

and here's two small albums of some of the cases I saw. Warning, graphic and upsetting. http://imgur.com/a/WNwMP

http://imgur.com/a/bc7FD

Edit okay bedtime for me. this has been enjoyable. I'll answer more questions in the morning, if there are any.

Comments: 685 • Responses: 91  • Date: 

Draoi283 karma

Was there any point were you realized that an extremely injured animal should be put down instead of suffering to the end?

gretchen8642492 karma

Every single day. There are a few animals that live at the shelter that are paralyzed from the neck down, that basically just lie on the ground getting sores on their joints and wait for someone to bring water close enough for them to drink it. It's a miserable, horrifying existence.

There are birds without wings, monkeys without arms... I remember one dog in particular had two broken femurs that a poorly qualified vet had attempted to fix with metal pins. Both pins had failed, and now four fragments of bone were exposed to the air. It was in so much pain that it was hyperventilating and shaking; we didn't even have strong pain killers for it. I wanted that puppy to die, and I'd never experienced that feeling before.

Wildelocke54 karma

Did you ever consider not providing an animal with food or water to starve it to death? An awful way to go, no doubt, but it might have been the better alternative.

gretchen8642116 karma

I considered breaking necks, withholding water, and intentionally ruining a surgery. Ultimately I couldn't do any of those things. I don't know if that was the right thing to do, but I couldn't bring myself to end a life that way.

Mikeahya38 karma

How the hell do you do this?! Hats off. I do not get squeamish about human injuries easily : I could imagine being a doctor. But your photos made me flinch.

gretchen864238 karma

The only thing in my mind was what needed to be done. I couldn't let emotions get in the way of treatment, it wasn't fair. It's hitting me now that I'm back.

Theclubbiestseal29 karma

You cannot even imagine the pain they're going through. Whoever makes those policies are fucking evil.

gretchen8642174 karma

Overall, I think the shelter is doing a net positive for the animals in the area. There are a lot of minor injuries or treatable problems (like parasite infestations) that are dealt with for free and in an efficient way.

But I struggled a lot with the no euthanasia policy for sure.

RoseOfSharonCassidy66 karma

Wouldn't treatment of a parasite go against Jainism?

gretchen864272 karma

Yes, but oh well. One guy released ticks into the wild as an alternative, but he's a minority.

Theclubbiestseal-29 karma

No one who cares about their animals would euthanize them over petty illnesses. People who obey those policies are criminal. If you were in insane, irreparable pain, would you want to live as long as possible? Fuck no you wouldn't.

gretchen864245 karma

I'm not saying I would. What I am saying is that I'd have a hard time condemning the entire shelter because of the no euthanasia policy because of the other good work they do for street animals.

But yes, I completely disagree with the policy.

habshabshabs14 karma

I would have to disagree that the actions are criminal. It's just a completely different perspective from ours and that can make a lot of us uncomfortable. Jainism is an extremely interesting religion and its followers practice extreme nonviolence. I'm fairly certain its because of these beliefs that this shelter exists in the first place, at the end of the day we have to accept that.

gretchen864217 karma

I agree, it's not criminal. The animals would be like that on the street either way, but it was very painful to have an option to help ease their suffering that I could never ever use.

ailee4320 karma

In that case, could you amputate and potentially save the dog?

gretchen864240 karma

Yes, but they made it wait so long that I would have preferred it dead. The dog in the third to last picture in the second album was made to wait three weeks before they took that leg off. I can't even imagine the pain he was in.

forgettableme20 karma

Why would they make them wait to have an amputation if it's clear it needs one and is in pain?

gretchen86428 karma

Because of shitty time management and a lack of empathy. I was shocked at the main surgeon and how little he seemed to care about animal suffering.

Fibonacci358137 karma

Followup question. Did the other individuals at the clinic have the same reservations or were they completely committed that they were doing the right thing or did the topic of morality never come up?

gretchen864215 karma

The majority of the people I worked with did not agree with the no euthanasia policy but seemed resigned to it.

Fibonacci358137 karma

Thanks for the reply. What do you think would have happened if you stood up and said "this is wrong!"?

gretchen864215 karma

They woulda rolled their eyes. It's not my shelter, ultimately, and the board gets to decide who works there and what happens. Plus I got the feeling that it wasn't cool to be disrespectful about religious beliefs in this case, especially when so much money was involved.

Everyone did what they could within the confines of the rules set by the owners, like any business.

FunGuy849 karma

Would it have been possible to euthanize some animals after work? I would not have been able to stand by and let animals suffer just because of some faith based belief that it is wrong NOT to let them suffer out an inevitable death...

gretchen864237 karma

Only if I would do it without euthanasia drugs. And those options (violent ones, mostly) were something I couldn't bring myself to do. I considered it, I considered overdosing with other drugs too. Ultimately I couldn't.

major_lugo5 karma

Just curious - why not an empty syringe to cause an air embolism?

gretchen864218 karma

Didn't think of it, and if I had I wouldn't have been confident enough to do it. I don't think I could kill something without a guaranteed pain free death, even in these cases. I don't know if that's the right thing.

tomdarch4 karma

In the end it's for the best that you didn't. I infer that you volunteered to work at their facility. As a result, it's best that you respected their wishes to never euthanize an animal.

gretchen86426 karma

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. I don't agree with it, but it's not my call in this case. I was a guest, and I did the best I could for the animals there within the confines of the rules the owners set.

Orange_Sticky_Note8 karma

Why not cut the legs off and give it a wheel chair? Then its bad legs wouldn't hurt anymore =(

gretchen864219 karma

I suggested that, the vet said I was being stupid because it was both back legs. It died before I could press the issue further.

GringoJones117 karma

This is unbelievably horrifying, and certainly offers a fascinating (and ghastly) insight into the flip side of the "all animal life is sacred" creed.

As a softie for animals, being exposed to this would be pure hell on earth for me, and I can't imagine I would ever be able to recover. Even the good I'd be doing in your shoes wouldn't ever outweigh the colossal mind-rending suffering being imposed on those poor souls.

But that's me. What would you say your takeaway from the experience has been?

gretchen8642123 karma

I don't even know if I did any good. I guess the main takeaway I had was that I've been extremely fortunate to practice in the US/UK where the standards of welfare are so unbelievably high, and that most people who live here can't even imagine the level of suffering that happens every day throughout the world. It made me feel a lot more confident as a vet, because many of the people who I was working with were incompetent and extremely unempathetic towards animals. I would do it again if I could, and I did the best I could for all of the animals who were trusted to my care.

GringoJones32 karma

That's a good perspective, and I'd imagine is really the one thing you could allow yourself after that experience: that regardless of the horrors you witnessed, you can at least gain a very real appreciation for more traditional Western standards of care.

At any rate, full kudos to you for having the strength of character to do it in the first place. I'd be suffering from hardcore PTSD, and I admire you for being able to offer some level of solace to those poor, poor creatures.

gretchen8642130 karma

I kept telling myself that I was there for a reason and it was my duty to do the best I could. We had this one dog (the last picture in the second album) that was brought to me by the vet techs-- they told me to redress the wound (which was completely covered in gauze).

Something felt wrong as soon as I touched it; the foot was wiggling in a way that it shouldn't. I opened the bandage and found that most of the skin was gone, the knee and the ankle were completely open, and that the foot itself was rotting and malodorous. At this point a guy I didn't know was video taping me, and I looked to the main vet and asked when they were going to amputate the leg.

'We're not. Just dress it.'

I stared at him for a moment and waited for him to correct himself. 'This is not okay.' I told him. 'This is never, EVER going to heal, and redressing it is a complete waste of time, money and materials, and you're prolonging the suffering of this animal in such a way that in any other country you'd have lost your license. You can't do this, this is NOT okay, and you HAVE to amputate the leg or I'm going to the board of directors.'

They said they'd amputate it. It took a week and a half to get it done because of idiotic time management. I made sure she had the pain medication she needed because fuck me if anyone else was taking care of it.

Actinopterygii31 karma

many of the people who I was working with were incompetent and extremely unempathetic towards animals.

Any idea why they worked at an animal shelter, let alone one with a policy against euthanasia?

gretchen864266 karma

The real question is why they wanted to be vets at all. I don't know. One of them hit a dog because his shitty stitches failed. I was wondering if maybe it was a cultural thing, but I couldn't tell you. Apparently vet school in India teaches mostly husbandry things rather than medical/surgical things.

singularity_is_here3 karma

Oh god, it is not cultural. In what culture would it be okay to hit a helpless animal like that.

BTW how did you travel to India? Part of an NGO?

gretchen86423 karma

I just emailed a shelter coordinator and they let me work there for as long as I wanted to. It's an NGO but I was there on a tourist visa.

vtjohnhurt74 karma

How do you treat for fleas and parasites at a Jain animal shelter?

gretchen8642163 karma

In general we'd just treat it and not say anything.

But one of the vets was telling me a Jain guy brought in a dog, and the vet was taking ticks off of it. 'No!' said the gentleman, collecting the ticks, 'we mustn't kill them!' He then released the ticks into the grass and all was well.

I just liked the image of a live release tick program.

protestor36 karma

Is "fixing" pets (neutering, etc) Jain-approved?

If yes, then I think that medicine that inhibit reproduction of parasites would be approved, too. Like: let the parasites die of natural causes - when they die, the dog is parasite-free!

gretchen864233 karma

Yes it's fine to neuter.

fyrespritetryst10 karma

The visual impression you did of this guy was impeccable, btw.

gretchen86428 karma

.....amanda?

anonymousinternet50 karma

How did you feel about your visit to India, as in how was India?

gretchen8642155 karma

India was a mixed bag. I'm a young, conventionally attractive-ish white woman, and I was subjected to a lot of harassment that I found very dehumanizing. On the other hand, I saw some incredible pieces of history and art (like the boddhi tree where Buddha apparently did his first sermon, the Taj Mahal, two wild tigers at Khana national park, etc), and was amazed by the chaos and liveliness of India.

But behind all of that there's this tremendous, endless poverty and suffering that is inescapable-- there are whole families that live on the street, children that I would guess were four or five alone at night, begging for money. Some very elderly or crippled people were just lying on the ground, there are homeless animals everywhere just eating garbage and getting hit by cars or starving.

It was hard. It was very hard. But it was an incredible learning experience that put a lot of my own struggles into perspective.

masturbatingmonkeys25 karma

A lot of respect to you for doing this. I'm a female traveller and I have very mixed feelings about visiting India. I reeeeally want to go, but on the other hand I'm a bit scared of how I'd be treated, and having to face these harsh realities of poverty.

gretchen864280 karma

Bring a friend (preferably a male friend). You will be bothered, you will be harassed, laughed at, people will take your picture without asking, they might touch you 'by accident', but you will not be harmed in any physical way. I felt very uncomfortable in India, but I never really felt in danger (not even when I was on an overnight train). The poverty stuff is a lot harder to deal with, for sure.

I've never been so angry at people before, I've never been so rude to strangers-- but there were guys literally blocking my way from leaving stores, jumping fences to chat me up-- I kept feeling like 'they treat cows better than they treat me.'

GrillMySkull38 karma

This is not a question but rather a bunch of statements I wish to write after reading most of the comments out here.

Let me make a few things clear so that there aren't any misunderstandings. I am an Indian but I am not a Jain.

Firstly, I admire the determination of the OP for coming over to my country and supporting our animal shelters. This is a tough job in India because our society is still not at the stage of taking care of our animals because a major section of our population suffers from poverty.

Secondly, if you look at the situation in here, you will realize that most Indians who can take care of pets, usually go for purebreds. Many of them despise the mutts in their localities. I think that if this improves, our situation would be slightly better. I am not saying that loving pedigreed dogs is wrong but when you are ready to take care of them, then you might as well give a home to the dog living right on your street.

Thirdly, since the OP mentioned that she worked in a Jain animal shelter, I would sincerely request all redditors to read about Jainism and their guiding philosophy. This will make to understand why they let the animals be. I know that I will be criticized for saying this, but please try to be slightly sensitive towards their belief and don't call them evil or misguided. I am saying this only because these sort of allegations usually spark religious debates. Also, I love animals a lot and something like this affects me, but staying in India and with my upbringing I have realized that you need to be sensitive towards such claims.

gretchen864221 karma

This is a really great comment, thank you.

dunnskee32 karma

[deleted]

gretchen864259 karma

Yes, and the response that they wouldn't do it. They didn't even have the drugs to do it. I thought about breaking necks a few times, or intentionally fucking up a surgery, but I couldn't bring myself to do that either.

I found a supply of opioid drugs and kept them in my pocket to give to really bad off cases. I didn't trust the other vets to give them anything better than an aspirin strength drug anyway.

VividLotus14 karma

I didn't trust the other vets to give them anything better than an aspirin strength drug anyway.

Out of curiosity, why would they not do that? Was it for religious reasons, or did they just not have enough actual painkillers?

It breaks my heart to think of a dog with injuries as severe as some of the ones you've mentioned getting nothing other than aspirin. From what I've seen, aspirin isn't even enough to take care of stuff like arthritis pain for a lot of dogs.

gretchen864211 karma

It was because the vets were very apathetic and even partial opioids were scarce.

etaveras9929 karma

How do they keep all the animal fed and well without killing any of the animals

gretchen864241 karma

Animals that are well enough to go back to the street are released back to the street. Those who need support to live are fed at the shelter until they die or recover. (Although because it's a Jain shelter they're not fed any meat, generally it's rice and milk/cheese (cats and birds of prey get some meat items on the sly)).

Actinopterygii30 karma

No meat for carnivores?? Holy crap... I'm just in awe at this point. I don't know what to say anymore.

Didn't the vet(s) there know how important meat is to obligate carnivores? If those animals aren't even getting proper nutrition, healing is going to be even more difficult.

Also, out of curiosity, did they spay/neuter the animals to try to reduce the street animal population, since the ones that recovered were released back to live on the street?

EDIT: found your answer to spay/neuter question below. A spay only on ketamine? Wow.

Basically they do spay and neuter only when they have students there, so we did about three a day. (And only on ketamine, I might add) They told us that there are other clinics in the area that only do spay/neuter work, so they focus more on out patient/injury/sickness things. I saw about 500 animals on the street while I was there, and most of them did not have the little notch from their ears to indicate that they had been spayed or neutered. They do think population control is important, but not enough to do it regularly.

gretchen864212 karma

Also limb amputations on ketamine. They only used iso for birds.

riaveg825 karma

How do those cats and birds of prey fare, if they're not given much meat? Are they given any supplements, or just expects to do fine on an omnivorous diet?

gretchen864233 karma

I wasn't really involved in feeding stuff, but the guy who was assured me that they get enough. Most of the cats aren't there for very long (since often they're well enough to be released) and the birds of prey get meat every day (just not in front of the board members).

protestor15 karma

(just not in front of the board members).

Isn't this a lot of hypocrisy?

gretchen864231 karma

Eh, probably. The whole shelter had a lot of issues.

zaikanekochan25 karma

This sounds like a very "human" clinic. I imagine that there were times that you really wanted to end the misery of the animals that were suffering greatly. Do you believe that we should be able to "put down" humans, like we do other animals?

gretchen864254 karma

In some cases, yes. I believe it's much better to allow someone to die when they're ready rather than prolonging life til the very last moment. The suffering that some people are forced to endure (like end stage cancer, Alzheimer's, or any degenerative disease) is inhumane.

That being said, some people may feel pressured by family members to end their lives prematurely for financial reasons, and some people may want to end their lives despite not having a terminal illness. Honestly, I'd rather that be the case sometimes than force people to suffer indefinitely.

Stef4119 karma

First of all I'll commend you for doing all you could for those animals. Very honorable work!

I'm an LVT that has had the opportunity to travel abroad (Jamaica, Lebanon), but our main purpose was always to set up spay & neuter clinics. We would get as many done in a week(s) as we could, all the while training the local vets and techs to become more proficient.

What was your shelter's view on spay/neuter (I'm asking in regards to dogs and cats, mainly)? Do they place much stock in popular control or do they focus mainly on helping the sick and injured?

gretchen864226 karma

Basically they do spay and neuter only when they have students there, so we did about three a day. (And only on ketamine, I might add)

They told us that there are other clinics in the area that only do spay/neuter work, so they focus more on out patient/injury/sickness things. I saw about 500 animals on the street while I was there, and most of them did not have the little notch from their ears to indicate that they had been spayed or neutered.

They do think population control is important, but not enough to do it regularly.

you_dont_even_no18 karma

With what you have seen in India, what are your thoughts on doctor supervised euthanasia?

gretchen864247 karma

Even before I saw these cases in India, I have been in support of doctor supervised euthanasia for humans. I'm much more of a quality of life versus quantity of life type of person, and I believe all creatures deserve the right to die with dignity if they wish to, or at least prevent the unnecessary prolongation of suffering.

Common-Ramen17 karma

Were there aggressive animals? How did they get dealt with on a day-to-day basis? What was the extent you as a group could offer the animals in terms of love and exercise and comfort? (I am interested in one day opening a refuge or so I would like to hear any good solutions to the issues in running such a place)

gretchen864223 karma

Most of the animals at the shelter were brought in by people from around the area, so they had to be at least tame enough to be brought in. Those dealt with by the mobile clinic were more aggressive, and would be dealt with using the metal pole with a leash at the end and sometimes nets for restraint. All animals (regardless of perceived aggressiveness) were muzzled.

As for rehab, all dogs were given a drug I had never heard of that apparently helps nerve regeneration. Additionally they have a few wheelchairs and some harnesses that are used for physical therapy although I don't think they were used every day. Love was provided by volunteers, and comfort for the paralyzed dogs was in the form of grass and waterbeds.

gretchen86427 karma

Good luck with your refuge!

RayXie13 karma

As far as sanitation goes, are the animals safe from gathering further infections?

Are there other workers there that agree with you on euthanasia?

gretchen864223 karma

All surgical cases are given prophylactic antibiotics, and most wound cases are also on antibiotics (although there is no culture or sensitivity testing done).

Almost all of the workers agreed with me, but without the donors, there would be no shelter at all.

NotADogCatcher9 karma

How did your experiences there color your ideas on the "No-Kill" movement that we have in the states?

gretchen864295 karma

I've always been against the 'no kill' movement. A few years ago I worked at animal care and control in New York, a 'high kill' shelter that handles about 50,000 animals a year and successfully adopts out about half of them.

They took in every animal that came in through the doors, no matter how aggressive, old or sick it was (unlike some no kill shelters which only take in fairly adoptable animals).

Every dog, cat and rabbit came in and got a roof, a meal, and a chance.

The shelter workers were kind, loving, and deeply saddened by the realities that the pet overpopulation caused. I came in one morning and saw about 50 cats all in cages in front of the vet's office. I asked what they were doing there, and got told 'they're going.' They were all healthy, adoptable cats. No one wanted to euthanize them, but there isn't enough space or money to keep them forever. They did their best, they always did their best. They will not adopt out an animal to anyone unless it's spayed or neutered, and they do a tremendous amount of good for the animals of New York.

A few years later, I was working at a shelter in the UK. Some of the dogs there had been in the shelter for over a year, and had basically gone insane. They're in a (relatively) small cage, surrounded by other loud dogs they can't see, and are let out maybe twice a day for maybe half an hour. They have no concept of the future, no idea that there may be a time when things are different-- just loud, frightening isolation. The dogs were no longer adoptable, they were untrained, didn't know their own names, and were often cage aggressive and too unruly to be handled by normal adopters.

I don't think shelters should keep animals for more than six months for that reason. (Unless it's like best friends animal society where they have a gigantic ranch). It's a huge proportion of the animal's lifetime, a miserable, lonely, cramped time that may last for years and years with a 'no kill' policy.

I don't like to kill healthy animals. No one in the vet or shelter profession does. But as long as there's a huge pet overpopulation problem, that's the way it's going to be. It's better that way, and it's better to adopt from a 'kill-shelter' because you save two lives that way. The animal you take home, and the animal who fills his cage when he's gone.

catjuggler23 karma

I don't like to kill healthy animals. No one in the vet or shelter profession does. But as long as there's a huge pet overpopulation problem, that's the way it's going to be. It's better that way, and it's better to adopt from a 'kill-shelter' because you save two lives that way. The animal you take home, and the animal who fills his cage when he's gone.

I strongly agree with everything you say, except for this line. I'm in Philly and I've volunteered with animal control (strays & owner surrenders), PSCPA (cruelty cases), and a big no-kill rescue. The no-kill rescue takes the animals almost entirely from the kill shelters, so it doesn't matter which place you adopt from. If you adopt from the no kill shelter, that opens a space to pull an animal from the kill shelter.

gretchen864212 karma

That's a great point actually. Sorry, I'm still quite jetlagged.

protestor1 karma

But as long as there's a huge pet overpopulation problem, that's the way it's going to be.

What do you think about banning breeding and selling animals?

Specially when there's no specific purpose (such as some trained dogs, which can for example guide blind people)

gretchen86422 karma

That's a tough one, because I can understand the desire to have a certain breed of dog with a predictable temperament (like a small dog or one with low exercise needs). I try and encourage everyone who comes into my clinic to spay and neuter their pets, and I really don't like dealing with breeders, but completely banning breeding would potentially end certain breeds of dogs with their own histories and cultural significance.

I'm not sure that the right thing to do is. It's not an easy issue.

ccthegrows8 karma

Did the shelter have reasonable access to antibiotics for the animals? From reading your previous answers, it seems they dealt with overcrowding through finding a spot on the floor... did they ever come near running out of floor space?

gretchen864212 karma

Yes there were enough drugs for most common things (antibiotics, basic pain meds, antiparasitics etc)

They never really have a problem with floor space since animals are released as soon as they're well enough to do okay on the street. That being said, the ICU was a joke. It was just a large, dank room with like 16 extremely injured dogs fighting with each other.

VividLotus6 karma

Did they see any discrepancy between their beliefs about not killing anything, and giving anti-parasitic medications (which, if they work properly, are going to kill any parasites an animal may get?)

gretchen86428 karma

I was wondering that, they did treat parasites and I killed about a million ticks. This is a story from an earlier question.

"But one of the vets was telling me a Jain guy brought in a dog, and the vet was taking ticks off of it. 'No!' said the gentleman, collecting the ticks, 'we mustn't kill them!' He then released the ticks into the grass and all was well.

I just liked the image of a life release tick program. "

falconerchick7 karma

Hey there,

I'm also a veterinary student and also traveled to India to work at an animal hospital operated by Jains :) it was located in Udaipur, called Animal Aid. Pretty crazy to see how many street animals (dogs and cattle alike) were brought in with horrifying conditions, most of them hit by cars. Indians will brake for humans in my experience, but not dogs. It's sad.

They had a portion of the clinic called "Paralyzed Town" for crippled dogs that had been hit by cars. That was tough to see, but like you said, they refused to euthanize. It was an awesome experience. What clinic did you work at? M

gretchen86427 karma

I'd rather not say since I don't want to get in trouble for doing the AMA (or give them unneeded negative press). If you're still interested I'll send you a PM after the AMA dies down a bit.

dtagliaferri6 karma

I once was in ahmedabad on buiness visiting a factory. I had three observations about the locals ( not just jains but most gugaratis) love of animals.

I do have a question about cows. They were always wandering around eating trash. Most of the trash was in plastic grocery bags. Do the cows eat much plastic and do you get many in your clinic?

There was a poisonous snake on the factory floor. This animal was not killed but captured and taken away. Did you ever have to do this.

The night watchmen loved dogs, and they would let dogs into the factory at night. They basically thought the dogs have as much right to be in the factory as they do. ( no comment just wanted to share=

gretchen86426 karma

  1. I wanted to dissect a cow for this very reason. Cows will eat plastic for sure, and I suspect most of the cows around the shelter ate their fair share of it. We did not get that many cows, probably because most animals at the shelter are brought in by people and sick cows are not easy to transport.

  2. No I didn't, luckily. Although I doubt they'd have let the visiting students handle a poisonous snake anyway.

Cryzgnik6 karma

If any, what sort of screening process was there to volunteer at a shelter like this? Did you have to convince anyone you wouldn't let any personal convictions get in the way of serving at the shelter?

I would also like to add how utterly terrifying, horrifying and mortifying the experiences some of those animals must undergo are, and commend you on being steadfast in volunteering. It mustn't have been easy.

It feels so surreal that that is happening right now, still.

gretchen864217 karma

I basically emailed a coordinator and told them where I was at school and that was that. They don't give a shit about my personal problems.

Thank you for your kind words. I had to harden myself a lot for this, and it's only now that I've gotten back that the reality of the suffering I saw has begun to sink in emotionally. I don't think I did enough.

Ley_Line6 karma

Iv studied some eastern religion and one of my professors was a Jain. I know how committed to the idea of Ahimsa (non-violence) they are; but isn't an animal/being in perpetual pain up and unto death a form Himsa (violence). How is it they justified this?

gretchen86429 karma

That quantity of life is more important than quality.

DrunkenMonkChi6 karma

What if the animal has no legs, eyes, nose, and jaw missing? Happened to a cow once.

gretchen86428 karma

Then they'd feed it until it stopped eating.

Do you have a picture of the cow?

leetee915 karma

were the vet doctors there as good with surgery or treating a animal for whatever injury or illness as vet doctors here in the US?

gretchen864216 karma

No. They had horrible aseptic technique and very poor surgical technique at times as well.

They would have me scrub up for surgery, then tell me to dry my hands on the communal towel, take drapes off in the middle of surgery, not clip the dogs properly, let the suture material touch everything, etc etc. One of them found an abscess in the middle of a surgery and squeezed it out into the surgical field. Another put gauze into the abdominal cavity and didn't count how many he put in (potentially leaving some behind). If there was a bleed, one's policy was 'close it and pray since god wouldn't let anything bad happen.' It was a joke. One of them was mad that a vet from the UK could come work in India but not vice versa. I almost laughed in his face because he blames dogs for dying when his shitty orthopedic experiments fail. He also told me 'you have to kill 1000 animals before you're a good vet.'

123yo1235 karma

What incident or case had the most positive impact on you? It seems to have been a very emotional and at times difficult place to be, so there must've been some times that made it all worthwhile.

gretchen864218 karma

There were a few. There was this dog there that I named Flybutt, who basically lay around in his own filth and was miserable for the first few days I was there and was covered (obviously) in flies. He was a spinal injury dog, and I thought, fuck, that's awful. Over the course of the next few weeks, through rehab and wheelchair therapy, he began to move around using his front legs, hopping to and fro around the shelter. I changed his name to Hopper, and he's doing better every day.

The other best ones were the amputation cases that needed to be done, because the dogs were in so much pain and once they were free of the legs they were like new animals-- just so eager to come up for kisses.

The thing that got me the most was how good natured and sweet most of the dogs were, despite how much they were struggling. It moved me like nothing else has.

Blackborealis5 karma

What is your favourite flavour of ice-cream?

gretchen86425 karma

Coffee heath bar probably.

Jayoak5 karma

Seems a lot of people are fixated on blaming the Jains for their policies. Out of curiosity, did you come across any examples where the no euthanasia policy was a good thing? Animals that would have been euthanized elsewhere having their lives saved etc.?

gretchen864214 karma

Some of the paraplegic dogs actually could get around pretty well with just two legs. I was glad that they hadn't been euthanized, especially since they got to keep living at the shelter. They're really sweet and kind of inspiring since they can get up and around like it's nothing. One was called Hobbles, she could get up stairs and walk faster than a lot of dogs I've met-- it was so creepy, you'd just hear her little legs dragging behind her as she followed you everywhere. She was like Igor, I loved her.

critical_d5 karma

Is there any way I could help these animals? Does the shelter accept donations? This is so fucking heartbreaking. :(

gretchen86424 karma

Yes the shelter does accept donations. I'll send you a PM with the information when the AMA dies down since I don't want to publicly identify the shelter since I'm being a bit negative about it.

Actinopterygii4 karma

Current vet student here.. I can really empathize with how difficult this must have been. I am astounded after looking through your photos. Many of these animals have what must be incredibly painful conditions. Was adequate pain control used for animals that should have been euthanized? I'm curious because I'm having a hard time fathoming how they can believe suffering in these conditions is morally better than ending their lives. But I suppose that may come down to a cultural difference...

Was there one animal or experience that is the most memorable for you?

How do you think this will affect you once you become a practicing vet?

gretchen864225 karma

No, in my opinion most cases were not given enough analgesia. The majority were given metacam only. About halfway through my time there I found some tramadol and kept it in my pocket for the remainder of my stay and gave it as needed to the worst cases. I did not trust the vets to make the right call.

There were a few very memorable ones:

  1. A puppy with two broken femurs, the vet (who apparently has a masters in surgery) had put IM pins in both of them, which had both failed. He blamed the dog, and attempted to reset the pins (which were both exposed, as were all four segments of bone) while the dog was completely conscious and on no pain medication. It didn't even scream, it just shook and shook and shook. I almost hit the vet, I demanded what he would think if someone did that to his wound. He said it was the dog's fault for moving too much, otherwise the pins wouldn't have failed. It died, and I was glad that it died.

  2. Dog comes in paralyzed from the neck down, she's got a completely full bladder and they don't have any urinary catheters. She would open her mouth like she was screaming and thrash her head around without making a sound. Whenever I gave her water she'd lap it up like she was dying of thirst-- I don't think anyone came often enough for her and she couldn't move to get it on her own.

  3. The story I mentioned earlier, I'll just paste it.
    We had this one dog (the last picture in the second album) that was brought to me by the vet techs-- they told me to redress the wound (which was completely covered in gauze).

Something felt wrong as soon as I touched it; the foot was wiggling in a way that it shouldn't. I opened the bandage and found that most of the skin was gone, the knee and the ankle were completely open, and that the foot itself was rotting and malodorous. At this point a guy I didn't know was video taping me, and I looked to the main vet and asked when they were going to amputate the leg.

'We're not. Just dress it.'

I stared at him for a moment and waited for him to correct himself. 'This is not okay.' I told him. 'This is never, EVER going to heal, and redressing it is a complete waste of time, money and materials, and you're prolonging the suffering of this animal in such a way that in any other country you'd have lost your license. You can't do this, this is NOT okay, and you HAVE to amputate the leg or I'm going to the board of directors.'

They said they'd amputate it. It took a week and a half to get it done because of idiotic time management. I made sure she had the pain medication she needed because fuck me if anyone else was taking care of it.

  1. A dog came in with a compound fracture, was ignored for about a day. I find her in the ICU with her ulna sticking out of her arm but she still comes up to me, jumps up and starts kissing me all over while resting her good arm on my waist. I couldn't believe what a good sport she was, how brave she was being.

I demanded to know why she wasn't having the leg amputated. The vet tells me he'll do it tomorrow, and he's gonna close the wound and not amputate it. I tell him that's stupid, because it's an old wound and almost certainly has osteomyelitis. He says he has to because a senior vet is making him, so I go to the board of directors and tell them that it's malpractice and he has to amputate. He gets yelled at, comes to yell at me for going behind his back because of course he's gonna amputate, he was just saying he wasn't because other people were listening (they weren't). I told him that if he didn't want me to go to the board, he shouldn't have lied to me about doing a procedure that was so stupid and negligent that it made me think he should have lost his license. We did the amputation an hour later.

It made me a LOT more confident in my own judgement and clinical abilities, and it'll always give me a lot of perspective on the cases I see wherever I work. I always, always want to spend my vacations working at shelters in places that need help, and this made me a lot stronger.

edited for format

GM3d64 karma

This is horrifying beyond words. Thank you for trying to help those animals. How do you cope?

gretchen86426 karma

Putting everything out of my mind except what needed to be done. Reminding myself that if I wasn't there, it might be worse for them. It's hitting me a lot more now that I've gotten home, though.

WinterSkyWolf3 karma

As a vegan I support the idea that no animals should be killed unnecessarily, but if they're suffering that's a different story.

I've seen photos of people carrying goats on their backs, or tying up cows and putting them on the back of bikes while driving them to slaughter in India. Have you seen anything like that while you were there?

gretchen86423 karma

I didn't see anything like that, no. I did see some chickens kept in horrible little cages, but otherwise I had very little exposure to food producing animals.

unicorngod3 karma

I'm thinking of going to vet school. I hear it's incredibly hard but I'm up to the challenge. Would you say it's worth it? All the time spent and money paid for it?

gretchen86426 karma

It's ridiculously hard, but I've never had more fun/meaning in my life. I've enjoyed vet school immensely, but many of the students in my year have struggled a lot and left. Ask yourself if you could be as happy doing anything else-- if the answer is yes, don't go. It's been worth every second and every penny to me.

imapatheticloserAMA3 karma

What was your worst experience in India?

gretchen86423 karma

My worst animal experience was when a dog with a compound fracture (third picture in first album) came in at like 5.30 and no one wanted to do anything about it. She was in so much pain and they hadn't done a damn thing for her. Me and the other two vets sedated her, trimmed down the bone, and dressed it as best we could and gave her pain medication. She was so, so frightened, and she was in the ICU which is basically a large room with a bunch of other dogs in it. I remember I just held her head in my lap and sang to her, trying to keep her calm while the drugs started to work. I never felt so helpless.

Non animal was probably an accumulation of the constant, constant harassment from vendors and taxi drivers and other men, getting yelled at and blocked from walking and having things shoved in my face, people 'accidentally' touching my leg... it was extremely dehumanizing and it shook me up.

MauriceZ3 karma

Do you need to be a vet student to do this kind of stuff? If not, how do you get involved?

gretchen86423 karma

You need to be a vet student to do things like surgery and medical treatments, but working at shelters is generally open to anyone interested. Have a look online for international shelters and see if they take volunteers/provide accommodation, and shoot them an email. Most places are very happy to have the help.

I_will_sniff_butts3 karma

Indian here.

Where in India was this shelter?

gretchen86428 karma

I'd rather not say because I don't want to get in trouble for doing the AMA (or get them in trouble because overall I think the shelter does good work)

1000degreesDD3 karma

Applying to vet schools now. If you don’t mind me asking what school are you attending?

As awful as this if I’m sure it gave you a new perspective. What made you chose India? Did they ever tell you a clear cut reason to why they would not euthanize the animals? How were the conditions and the equipment available? What type of clinic was this?

gretchen86425 karma

I'm at the University of Edinburgh, and I'm always happy to talk to potential vet students about the application process. PM me if you have any questions.

I chose India because I love to travel and I wanted to challenge myself. The reason they don't euthanize is because it's a Jain organization and their religion won't allow killing of any animals.

The conditions were not very clean and the equipment was fairly old, but it could certainly have been worse. I had enough drugs available and the staff were pretty good at assisting when I needed it.

It's a clinic that only deals with street animals, mostly on an out patient basis but does have a resident population of very injured animals that live there.

joe221143 karma

So I just got back from a spell of travelling in India. One of the places I visited was a city which is home to a shelter with a no kill policy. I was looking through your albums and noticed the dog with a large leg tumor. I saw that dog every day while I was in the city. I am slightly freaked out by that, but glad it's getting some care. Edit: realised you didn't want to say where you were...

gretchen86423 karma

That dog wasn't in the shelter, it was one I saw when I was traveling around. I gave him pain meds and contacted the local shelter, but I don't know if they picked him up. I was only in Udaipur for two days, so...

FinnbarrGaledeep3 karma

Fourth year student here. I'm fascinated by that first picture you took of the rabid dogs. Do the shelter staff wear PPE around animals with infectious diseases? How do you manage hygiene and limit the spread of pathogens? How was aseptic technique handled?

gretchen86425 karma

I didn't see anyone dealing with the rabid dogs, but most of the PPE was gloves when dealing with something open or gross, and masks when dealing with something smelly. There were generally no masks used in surgery or around animals with potential zoonotic diseases (monkeys and pigeons). Cages are cleaned regularly-ish but not a lot was done to prevent pathogen spread. We had a big resp outbreak amongst the puppies and it was very hard to control.

Honestly one of the vets didn't even care about ascetic technique since 'it's so dirty in the cage anyway'. He was a tool.

lindypie3 karma

Thank you for your compassion and bravery. Would you like to volunteer with animal rescue here in the states? As a rescuer myself I am often frustrated when I see vets in cushy practices who just don't seem to understand how much horrifying stuff is going on right under their noses. It turns out that people who will neglect animals wont take them to expensive vet offices.... But thats just my personal gripe. Here is the actual question - what were some of the learnings from this experience that surprised you the most and how will you use them to serve animals in your community better?

gretchen86427 karma

I've worked at a few shelters in the states, a few in the UK as well. I really love shelter medicine, but it's very emotionally taxing to do it all the time. I'm too sensitive to be a primary shelter vet, but I made a promise to myself when I started applying to vet school that I would never forget how many animals there are who need help and homes in my own country.

The main thing I take away from all of my shelter experience is how important spaying and neutering is to prevent animal suffering. More than anything else, that is the most critical issue. I want to get it into people's thick heads how foolish it is to leave their dog intact because it's emasculating to neuter, or to let them have a litter of kittens so that they experience the joys of motherhood-- I want them to spend a day in a high kill shelter and tell me they'd do it again, I want them to see all the perfectly healthy, lovely dogs and cats that get euthanized because selfish assholes like them don't care enough to neuter.

My plan is to do pro bono spays and neuters at shelters/poor communities/impoverished nations once I qualify. It's the best thing I can give back, and in my opinion has the biggest impact for animal welfare in that region.

Friendly_Musician3 karma

What are the most important things you have learned after this experience?. I really admire veterinaries.

gretchen86424 karma

I learned about how lucky I am to live in a country like the UK where animal welfare standards are so high, and that I'm not just booksmart, but that I can apply what I've learned and keep cool in a difficult situation. It was very hard, but very good for me.

Casual_Xtescy3 karma

Is there anything that you would've changed from your experience whilst you were over there? And did you get emotionally attached to any of the animals in the shelter?

gretchen864214 karma

I would have stayed for longer, and voiced my objections about a lot of the problems more loudly. I also wish I'd done more surgeries alone when the other vets wouldn't help. An example was we had this cat come in that needed an emergency c-section; she had a necrotic kitten halfway out her pelvis and a few more inside.

'It's 6. We'll do it tomorrow.'

She died in the night, of course. I should have tried the surgery by myself, even if I didn't have the experience. I would have rather killed her under GA than let her die in pain like that.

I got attached to so many of them, you have no idea. I would have taken one of them home if importing to the UK wasn't so difficult (6 month quarantine in this case).

bravelittletoasted3 karma

Wow, I'm a vet tech and you're much stronger than I am. I could not stand to be there. It is that they think they're doing good for the animals by not euthanizing or is it just that they don't believe in taking a life despite them suffering?

Edit: I understand the religious belief behind it, I'm just curious about how the people justify it to themselves if any of them shared that with you.

gretchen86424 karma

Most people seemed kind of apathetic to it, but they had been there for a lot longer than I had. I think they just accepted it and did the best they could with the options they had available. No one really talked to me about it extensively, but the majority of people seemed annoyed with the policy.

ailee433 karma

For those animals where death is inevitable, are you able to help ease their pain or prevent them from hurting themselves further until they can pass naturally?

gretchen86425 karma

Most of the animals didn't have a terminal condition, sadly. Most of them were paralyzed or had some sort of severe injury that prevented them from living normally (we had a baby monkey that had both arms amputated because he electrocuted them). Most of the fatal cases we had were rabid, and it wasn't safe to administer drugs to them as far as I could judge. Pain medication was given most of the time, but it was not sufficient in my opinion.

unglad2 karma

Are you for or against euthanasia?

gretchen86423 karma

For.

GrassWaterDirtHorse2 karma

How depressing is your job?

gretchen86422 karma

Depends on the day. Sometimes very, sometimes not. Vets do have a very high suicide rate as a profession, though.

tunabebo2 karma

I work for an animal shelter in India, and there was a time when a very famous animal activist visited and openly declared that she'd put many of our animals to sleep. Well, we didn't listen to her and many of these animals are now in forever homes, and have made an amazing recovery. The idea behind no-kill is that you work even harder to make sure the animal makes a full recovery.

gretchen86429 karma

If recovery is possible, though. In many of the cases I worked with, the prognosis was hopeless.

Lollocaust2 karma

Was there any one incident that particularly sticks in your mind above all the others?

gretchen86423 karma

copy pasta from above

A puppy with two broken femurs, the vet (who apparently has a masters in surgery) had put IM pins in both of them, which had both failed. He blamed the dog, and attempted to reset the pins (which were both exposed, as were all four segments of bone) while the dog was completely conscious and on no pain medication. It didn't even scream, it just shook and shook and shook. I almost hit the vet, I demanded what he would think if someone did that to his wound. He said it was the dog's fault for moving too much, otherwise the pins wouldn't have failed. It died, and I was glad that it died.

Dog comes in paralyzed from the neck down, she's got a completely full bladder and they don't have any urinary catheters. She would open her mouth like she was screaming and thrash her head around without making a sound. Whenever I gave her water she'd lap it up like she was dying of thirst-- I don't think anyone came often enough for her and she couldn't move to get it on her own.

The story I mentioned earlier, I'll just paste it. We had this one dog (the last picture in the second album) that was brought to me by the vet techs-- they told me to redress the wound (which was completely covered in gauze).

Something felt wrong as soon as I touched it; the foot was wiggling in a way that it shouldn't. I opened the bandage and found that most of the skin was gone, the knee and the ankle were completely open, and that the foot itself was rotting and malodorous. At this point a guy I didn't know was video taping me, and I looked to the main vet and asked when they were going to amputate the leg.

'We're not. Just dress it.'

I stared at him for a moment and waited for him to correct himself. 'This is not okay.' I told him. 'This is never, EVER going to heal, and redressing it is a complete waste of time, money and materials, and you're prolonging the suffering of this animal in such a way that in any other country you'd have lost your license. You can't do this, this is NOT okay, and you HAVE to amputate the leg or I'm going to the board of directors.'

They said they'd amputate it. It took a week and a half to get it done because of idiotic time management. I made sure she had the pain medication she needed because fuck me if anyone else was taking care of it.

A dog came in with a compound fracture, was ignored for about a day. I find her in the ICU with her ulna sticking out of her arm but she still comes up to me, jumps up and starts kissing me all over while resting her good arm on my waist. I couldn't believe what a good sport she was, how brave she was being.

I demanded to know why she wasn't having the leg amputated. The vet tells me he'll do it tomorrow, and he's gonna close the wound and not amputate it. I tell him that's stupid, because it's an old wound and almost certainly has osteomyelitis. He says he has to because a senior vet is making him, so I go to the board of directors and tell them that it's malpractice and he has to amputate. He gets yelled at, comes to yell at me for going behind his back because of course he's gonna amputate, he was just saying he wasn't because other people were listening (they weren't). I told him that if he didn't want me to go to the board, he shouldn't have lied to me about doing a procedure that was so stupid and negligent that it made me think he should have lost his license. We did the amputation an hour later.

Leeps2 karma

My girlfriend did one of these, and luckily the people she was with would turn their backs occasionally and she would get away with helping things along. Did you have any of these opportunities at all?

gretchen86424 karma

Yes, but without euthanasia drugs I wasn't confident enough to do it. I don't know if that was the right thing.

Leeps2 karma

Thanks for the answer! What nationality are you, of interest?

gretchen86423 karma

I'm from New York City and I have dual nationality UK/US

zaloni2 karma

Where are you going to vet school? I'm sure you aware of how bad (income-wise) a profession it is at the moment. Will you specialize? What do you imaging you'll be doing 5 years after you graduate?

(http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/business/high-debt-and-falling-demand-trap-new-veterinarians.html?_r=0)

As the husband of a veterinarian, I'm horrified by the state of the industry. Very few vets have any business orientation and many end up being martyrs. Animal welfare is great, but first pay yourselves appropriately and don't give away under-cost work. Vets seem incapable of doing this! Don't be ashamed to price appropriately - vets are routinely cheaper than any other professional service I can think of, and they have incredible overhead. Your local family MD doesn't have oxygen generators, anesthesia, radiology, etc., on site, but many small animal vets do!

In getting to know her classmates (this was 10 years ago), they fell into a few categories: 1) animal welfarists who were not concerned about whether they can make a living; 2) women with families or husbands who can support them or maybe even buy in to a practice; 3) people who come from veterinary family businesses and will inherit practices; 4) and finally, the folk who have an intrinsic clinical or research interest who specialize and generally have some love of animals combined with a cool scientific head... these are the lucky ones. I know I'm painting with broad strokes, but this is what I see.

It seems a very odd group. The first group make horrible employees. They don't "get" pricing, attract demanding and unreasonable clients, etc.

Everywhere I look, I see VCA buying up practices. They can outbid individual DVMs because of their vertical integration (lab ownership, etc.), but mostly because they have business sense (even if their medicine leaves a lot to be desired). It it going to be an interesting landscape in the future. On the downside, less ownership opportunities for associates. On the upside, maybe the people in category 1) will get pushed out the industry will be a bit healthier, with real career paths and income for those who don't have a sugar daddy or trust fund.

By the way, my wife worked in a top consulting firm making big bucks, but was miserable. I put her through 2.5 years additional undergrad to get the pre-reqs, and then vet school. She's happy now, even though the income is laughably poor. I'm OK with that.

I'm very curious to what your view on the state of the industry is and what your career plan is.

gretchen86423 karma

I'm a very business minded person and understand the importance of pricing and how personal relations between business and client are way more important than prices. I also like to encourage people to buy pet insurance when they can.

That being said, I do see myself specializing and hopefully in five years I'll be finishing up my residency in either surgery or neuro and hopefully getting a job at a vet school. I'd love to combine clinical work, research and teaching and make as much impact as I can on whichever field I can get into. (Hopefully getting my first paper published sometime this year :O)

I go to Edinburgh vet school, but most likely will try to do internship/residency in the states.

I'm also troubled by the state of the industry, and think that as school prices increase, vet salaries should increase as well. We train ridiculously hard and put so much of ourselves into this, it's a crying shame we don't make a wage that reflects that. My school has a financial planning aspect to the course, and hopefully other universities will follow suit. I hope that things improve as the economy does, but it'll probably get worse before it gets better.

FutureWaves2 karma

How do you deal with the never ending amount of street dog mange? I live in India-expat, and worry about touching/petting any street dog...even the pups...but they're so damn cute!

gretchen86424 karma

It's pretty gross and contagious, but I always had some sanitizing hand gel with me for after petting a very gross looking dog. A little headpat can make them so pleased, it's hard to resist!

Astilaroth2 karma

I'm sorry if it has been asked already, but what do they do with maggots they find in wounds? And fleas, ticks and other critters like that?

gretchen86425 karma

In theory, nothing. In practice, they were just put in the garbage or crushed to death. One guy apparently came in and released a bunch of ticks we took off a dog into the wild, but that's a minority.

What the board didn't know vis a vis parasites didn't hurt them.

misstamilee2 karma

What was your most rewarding experience from the trip? Would you go again?

gretchen86424 karma

The most rewarding thing was seeing that I could make a positive impact for some of the animals, and hopefully a positive impact on the shelter (for example I kinda shamed one of the vets into not using a dirty towel to dry his hands after he sterilized them for surgery, we'll see if that sticks). I felt like I'm not just book smart, but that I could really apply what I know and be confident and cool in difficult situations. I took control and I'm very glad that I grew so much.

I would definitely go to the shelter again, but the idea of going back to India right now is a bit much for me since the whole thing was very emotionally draining. I need some time to absorb everything I experienced and make sense of it before I decide to put myself through it again.

twoscoop2 karma

Do you enjoy eating vegburgs? I enjoy eating broccoli, does it taste like that?

gretchen86423 karma

I love vegburgs! And it tastes like a potato patty thing with peas and stuff in it, usually. This one had spicy beans :O

twoscoop2 karma

Quick plug the product name. I love potatoes.

gretchen86423 karma

It's like tesco brand veggie burgers or something. Spicy bean burger maybe? I'd have to get the box out of the bin.

thikthird2 karma

a couple questions -- if they can't kill flies, how were they stopping the spread of disease? or other insects? were you allowed to kill bacteria, i.e. use antibiotics? (yes i know bacteria aren't animals, just curious if they mean any living thing.) what was the capacity like? were you ever full to the point that you had to turn away animals? if so, isn't that just externalizing the killing?

gretchen86423 karma

They used a lot of fly spray, and I killed my fair share of bugs. I dunno what the policy is on bacteria, I wondered the same thing myself.

The capacity was pretty good since most of the animals were out patients so they left right after treatment. Things needing prolonged care generally had enough space, and are released once they can survive on their own on the street again. They didn't turn anything away that I saw.

the_walking_deaf2 karma

Any advice on someone contemplating veterinary school?

gretchen86423 karma

It's very hard, very emotionally taxing, but very rewarding for the right person. Spend some time in a vet clinic and see if that's the sort of thing you would like to do. Ultimately, if you can see yourself as happy doing anything else, I would recommend not going to vet school. You will suffer, and you will think you are stupid. It's up to you if the hardships that come with it are worth it though.

PM me if you have any questions!

willwaibel2 karma

What were the hardest things about getting into vet school? Any tips for undergrad? (I start in the fall)

gretchen86423 karma

Hardest thing is keeping your GPA up, while also getting enough experience. Tips for undergrad-- keep on top of your shit, ask questions when you don't understand something, and try to get a position working with animals ANYWHERE. A lot of vet clinics don't like taking on undergrads without experience, so even if you're at a pet store, or a lab, or whatever, it's practical experience you can put in your application and hopefully use to get a better placement as you progress through your college degree. You need a great GPA, lots of experience, and luck to get in, and even then it might take a few tries.

Don't forget that there are schools outside the US that are accredited (London, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dublin) that are excellent and often overlooked by American applicants and may as such have a smaller application pool with a higher non regional acceptance rate (since many American vet schools primarily take students from their own state).

PM me if you have any other questions!

Avynn2 karma

I have seen a couple of responses talking indirectly about pain management. What did you have available for drugs and under what circumstances could you give them?

gretchen86425 karma

Almost all animals with an injury got metacam. Animals undergoing surgery would have xylazine and ketamine but often nothing else. About halfway through the trip I found some tramadol, which I administered to the worst cases (compound fractures or open joints) because there wasn't enough of it for everyone who needed it.

jollybracelet2 karma

How is the shelter funded?

gretchen86423 karma

Jain donors, government grants, and private donations. Also making money off vet students like me who want to come work for a while.

csolisr1 karma

If I'm having a hard time picturing a vegan diet for cats and dogs, you'll understand when I ask you how the heck did you manage to make them a fruitarian diet. What was your secret?

gretchen86421 karma

Well Jains are allowed to consume dairy and egg products, so most of them had cheese/milk as protein. Cats and birds of prey were apparently discretely given meat, but I never saw this done.

kendo5450 karma

Did the recent high media attention cases of female gang rape and murder discourage you on going? (obviously it didn't stop you) Did you act differently that you might have done?

Do you think India does anything 'right' which the West does 'wrong'?

Reading your responses shows you're a braver person than I.

gretchen86424 karma

Honestly, I told myself that it was very unlikely that as a white woman I would be gang raped because the police would actually give a shit because of negative media attention. I was also traveling with two other vet students and a male friend, so as a group we were fairly safe.

My facetious response is 'chai', my other response... hm. No. Most of the things I encountered on a societal level left me with a somewhat negative impression of India. I was deeply, deeply troubled by a lot of the human rights issues in India, as well as infrastructure, respect towards women, food safety standards... India has a long way to go, I think. I wish I knew how to help make it better.