Female Para Veterinarian: Going Against The Status Quo


by Sreetama Banerjee Bhattacharya, Co-Founder and Program Manager of Mothers Heart Sarsuna and Program Co-ordinator for Animal People Alliance

In my career of seventeen long years as an animal advocate I have come across many organisations, along with the one for whom I work since 2003.

During my interaction with these organisations and their expertise I always felt there was some missing link. It is about being more sensitive to the basic needs of your non-human patient, while treating them in emergencies. I may sound a bit gender biased being a woman myself but I have always felt women are more sensitive to deal with the patients in critical trauma. Technical expertise isn’t the only important thing to consider. You must also consider the physical and emotional bond a caretaker must form with their patient. Compassion helps to diminish the stress a patient experiences which in turn aids in recovery. Being compassionate is crucial and this is where I think women excel.

Now there are obvious questions that arise when one thinks of women performing tasks related to caring for animals such as animal handling, which demands a tremendous amount of physical strength. How would women deal with such hard jobs? Well in our so called semi modern-semi ancient society, do we really notice or measure how much physical strength is required for our Indian women in order to perform their daily household jobs? With my share of observation and my own job experience, my answer is “YES”! Women can definitely handle the animals (here am referring to the small and community animals specifically) and give them mental support and medical aid when they are in need. I am happy to finally help prove this point by working with Animal People Alliance and showing people that women, if given the opportunity and support, can do most of the same things that men can do.

When I was told by Paul, Co-Founder of Animal People Alliance, that he wants to launch an animal ambulance which will be mainly managed by the female paraveterinarians*, for me it was like a dream comes true. Not only does it provide more economic opportunities for women and provide animal shelters with much needed trained staff but it also helps promote a culture of compassion among the stray animals of Kolkata. We hope that over time, more people in the city will see this as a viable option for a career and choose to improve their lives by helping animals improve theirs.

*paraveternarians (or paravets) are essentially vets in training who can perform most basic animal care tasks but are not licensed to perform surgeries.

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