In my earlier post I begun on this topic of access to veterinary care and how lack of it is impacting the ownerless street dog population growth in India.
An excellent article from Michelle Lem (2019), Barriers to accessible veterinary care, published in Canadian Veterinary Journal, summarizes the current research in this topic both from the animal owners as well as the animal carer professions point of view.
Common factors that affect the pet owner’s ability to access veterinary care include socioeconomic and financial factors along with challenges in arranging transportation, geographic barriers, and not knowing where to go for veterinary care.
Barriers to accessible veterinary care, Michelle Lem (2019):” Geographical factors for animal owners may be tied to socioeconomic status for those living in impoverished areas, but also for rural or remote areas which may be “care deserts” where there are few to no veterinary services available. Such geographical issues impact care provision for veterinarians as well, creating logistical, operational, and financial challenges in serving large geographical areas with smaller populations, as well as challenges in attracting veterinarians to rural and remote areas. The issue of serving rural and remote populations is not unique to veterinary medicine and is tied to several larger systems and structures.”
These same factors can be easily identified in India as well. Private veterinary clinics do not exist in rural areas and where they do exist, they may be too expensive for large sections of the population. Private veterinary clinics have traditionally not included low-cost spay/neuter surgery campaigns in their activities because such work has been seen as only belonging to the NGO sector sterilizing street dogs.
The main source of veterinary help in small towns and villages are usually the government veterinary hospitals and -dispensaries but often the veterinarians manning these facilities, have either not got the training or time to do spay/neuter surgeries, or they are lacking examples and models on how to set up owned dog spay/neuter campaign days. Or, they, too, have simply associated spay/neuter surgeries with NGOs and ABC-centers and not something to offer for owned pet dogs.
Even in big cities where NGO-run Animal Birth Control (ABC) -programs are functioning, owners may feel hesitant to take their dogs to these ABC centers for surgery. Reasons for this hesitance include anything from lack of awareness to lack of transport and lack of trust in the center and the quality of work there (because it is seen as ‘only for street dogs’).
If you are interested in learning more about access to veterinary care, this is a good link for more resources. Or, just stay tuned to this blog and keep spaying!