AN aspiring vet from Sedbergh has spent the summer caring for more than 400 injured, abused and ownerless animals at an Indian animal sanctuary.
Imogen Duncalf, 13, helped Animal Aid Unlimited, in Udaipur, look after their household of dogs, cows, donkeys, pigeons, a cat, a monkey and four tortoises.
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The Sedbergh School student travelled out to the sanctuary with her mother Jo-Anna after seeing an article about it in Lonely Planet, a travel guide.
“It was absolutely amazing because out there you can really get involved,” she said.
“I got to help out by cleaning wounds, dressing them, doing bandaging and holding the animals down while the vets were looking after them.”
The sanctuary has a unique approach to caring for animals with an emphasis on an individual hands-on caring.
Volunteers and staff are encouraged to spend a great deal of time massaging, de-ticking and brushing the animals.
“Some of the sights were quite horrific. There were so many injured animals and some of the wounds we had to treat were awful,” said Imogen.
“I have my own dog at home and coming back has made me realise how pampered he is.”
Imogen said that one of her worst experiences was witnessing an ill dog being put down, while the best part were the puppies. “I fell in love with a puppy called Tweedle Dee,” she said.
Animal Aid was opened in 2003 by American family Jim, Erika and Claire Abrams Myers and is run entirely from donations.
Each year it responds to more than 3,500 calls reporting animal suffering, and in most cases returns the animals to the neighbourhoods in which they were found.
Imogen’s mum Joanna said: “Imogen wants to be a vet when she leaves school so this was an invaluable opportunity to work with animals.
“We were fortunate to visit whilst two student vets from Glasgow were working at the sanctuary – Amanda Budge and Ruby Shorrock – who both allowed Imogen to assist them in their rounds each morning, enabling her to have a very hands-on experience.”
Jo-Anna and Imogen were so impressed they have decided to go back next year.
In the meantime Imogen is now working with Amanda and Ruby to build a hydro pool for the paralysed animals at the sanctuary – she is attempting to raise between £800 and £1,000 by Christmas.