Murdoch’s mobile vet clinics improve dog health in the regions

November 10, 2017

Healthy dogs: Mobile clinics sterilised dogs to improve animal welfare and community health

Animal welfare and community health have improved in regional Aboriginal communities as a result of a mobile veterinary clinic provided by Murdoch University College of Veterinary Medicine.

The clinic which visits the Kimberley, Midwest and Goldfields to improve dog health and control their numbers, provides a unique opportunity for final year students to gain real world experience.

Program manager and veterinary surgeon, Dr Nicole Laing, said the clinic was run by final year students with supervision from veterinarians. Four mobile clinics spend two weeks in the regions helping to control dog populations.

Dogs play an active part in Aboriginal communities and Murdoch plays a key role in keeping their numbers manageable with a program of sterilising up to 300 dogs.

Dr Laing said that in one community the number of unwanted dogs had dropped from 180 to eight in just 12 months.

“There is a strong correlation between dog health and human health and high dog populations are consistent with high rates of disease.

“Cutting the number of unwanted dogs reduces the spread of zoonotic disease – disease transmitted from dogs to humans, such as parasites and skin disease.

“Children, in particular, are at risk of infection because they often sleep with the dogs.”

Fewer dogs also means a drop in aggressive behaviour and territorial disputes, fewer attacks on children and less community disturbance.

In the Kimberley, Murdoch partnered with the Nirrumbuk Aboriginal Corporation to visit four communities, conducting 120 operations, vaccinating dogs and teaching residents about preventive health.

The program is part of the University’s service to society, applying the latest research and learning to support the wellbeing of Aboriginal communities.

Dr Laing said the trip gave the students invaluable hands on experience of administering anaesthetic and conducting surgery using basic facilities, working as a team and developing their communication skills.

“The students learn on state-of-the-art facilities at Murdoch University but the mobile clinic requires they use all their senses to observe, monitor and treat the animals, which is helping to prepare them for the workforce.”

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