‘Hachiko’ figuratively made the audience shed tears because of its heart-melting storyline—a Japanese film beautifully portraying the bond between humans and animals. In India, ‘Bhutdaya’ – animal benevolence, is considered divine. It is sometimes impossible to mention the love of and for animals in words. Just like we pour abundant love on animals, it is our prime responsibility to care for their health, and veterinary doctors are the best way to help the animals.
Veterinary doctors take care of the animals and invest efforts in their welfare. It is a sacred task, and with love for animals in his heart, Dr Anil Kumar Sharma – a respected veterinarian, is committed to the betterment of animals. He has worked as Veterinary Officer in the Department of Animal Husbandry since last nine years. Presently he has additional responsibilty of District Nodal Officer for Animal Birth Control & Anti Rabies Vaccination Program for District Shimla (H.P.). He also serves as the Head of the Institution in Veterinary Polyclinic Rampur, Bushahr. With the help of his colleagues and assistants, he aids in implementing departmental schemes at the grass route level.
In an interview with CIOLOOK INDIA, Dr Anil Kumar, Veterinary Officer, VPC- Rampur Bushahar & District Nodal officer, Rabies Surveillance, Distt. Shimla ( H.P. ), spoke at length, the highlights of which are given ahead.
Sir, please brief us about the pillars of your veterinary clinic. Also, kindly mention their work and achievements.
Pets give unconditional love. They bind us emotionally as well as become a source of earnings. Our responsibility is to care for them and give the same love back. Two more exceptional veterinarians work with me.
Dr Shrikrishna Isloor, Professor & Laboratory Director, KVAFSU-CVA Rabies Diagnostic Lab. WOAH ( Formerly OIE ) reference laboratory for rabies, Department of Microbiology- Veterinary College KVAFSU , Hebbal Bangalore, Karnataka India. He has recieved many awards for his scientific research in the field of Veterinary Microbiology. He has received Best Teacher Award by Karnataka Veterinary University. He has recieved National Award for Brucellosis work by Union Minister , Government of India.
Another is Dr Darryn Knobel, BVSC, MSC, PHD, MRCVS, DIPL, ACVPM ( EPI) , Professor of Epidemiology and Population health, Ross University, Saint Kitts and Nevis, USA. He is internationally renowned for his work in the field of rabies. Recently we worked together in a project and we have reported first case of Rabies diagnosis in a cow from naso-labial plate using RT-PCR technique.
What measures have you implemented for animal welfare besides your government service?
I usually find pet and farm animal cases and help them get cured. My team and I have taken the initiative for Animal Birth Control Programme and Mass anti-rabies vaccination. It is an advantageous step, and to carry out it successfully, we regularly conduct campaigns throughout the Himachal Pradesh state, especially in my district, i.e., Shimla.
For these operations, I have been appointed as District Nodal Officer. I collaborate Internationally with organizations like mission rabies, and with the help of their guidance and expertise, we work to improve these campaigns.
In general, how do you approach the way of treatment? What are the different treatments?
We treat a wide range of animals in the state, similar to humans. They also need to undergo regular checkups and tests. In routine, we do CBC and blood biochemistry of pets, which helps greatly diagnose many diseases in pets and birds. Moreover, we use certain Lateral Flow Assay (LFA) kits to diagnose infectious diseases like Rabies, Canine Distemper, Canine Parvo viral diarrhoea, Canine Corona viral diarrhoea, etc.
We provide specialized services for small as well as large animals. We daily handle routine 25 to 30 cases. We also offer services like artificial insemination to farmers rearing cattle at their doorstep.
Treating animals is a strenuous task and comes with lots of challenges. Please brief us about some challenges you face and how you deal with them.
Understanding animals’ emotions and treating them is indeed difficult. Apart from that, we face supply chain and logistic difficulties. We usually face problems i.r.o. Logistics supply as being in a government setup. We have to buy things according to government policy. There is a limitation of purchasing something only which is in the rate contract of the government. Sometimes, there are restrictions on purchasing other required things/tools which are not there in the rate contract.
The next problem we face is associated with the test results and shipping of samples. For confirmatory diagnosis of infectious diseases like Rabies in Himachal Pradesh, we have to send the samples to Banglore and get their confirmatory diagnosis by RT-PCR, DFA and RFFIT tests.
In your opinion, how technologies like AI and ML are impacting the modern pet healthcare sector? Please brief us about the arrangements made by the clinic about the same.
The healthcare sector has been witnessing tremendous change due to the introduction of technologies such as AI and ML. From my point of view and experience, every technology in the present scenario has pros and cons. Similarly, these technologies also invade the livestock and pet healthcare sector. The great thing about it is that AI has streamlined the process of keeping the record in one app rather than a huge amount of paperwork.
In Himachal Pradesh, we use applications like Bharat Pashudhan to record animals’ Breeding and health status. We have also started using the WVS data collection app for recording ARV/ABC and rabies surveillance. However, this all comes with a bad side also. There always remains a danger of a breach of privacy for pet/livestock owners as the apps use mobile numbers and Aadhar numbers.
Where do you see the clinic heading in the future? Are there any enhanced operations and offerings planned?
It has been a great journey to treat the poor and needy animals. Multiple government and personal initiatives can benefit these animals and their owners. Yet, we wish to strengthen the systems we have, the laboratory in our clinic. The future awaits enhanced services, and we plan to arrange a Culture sensitivity test for bacteria in our laboratory only. Moreover, we aim to improve our infrastructure and introduce new tools for better veterinary services in the area very soon.
Please give us a few testimonials of your clients, companies and a list of awards and recognitions that accurately highlight your position in the veterinary medicine segment.
I have received multiple awards for my service excellency as a veterinary doctor. Some of them are mentioned below:
- Presented Position Paper in front of WHO office bearers and Government of India officers, i.r.o. Rabies Post-exposure prophylaxis in animals. (2022).
- Award of Appreciation from the Association for Prevention and Control of Rabies in India for attending the National Conference, 2022.
- 3rd Best Oral Presentation Award in an Innovation session, Feb 2021 (International Conference organised by Indian Society of Veterinary Immunology and Biotechnology).
- 2nd Best Poster Presentation Award in Transboundary for emerging and re-emerging diseases session (National Conference organized by Indian Association of Veterinary Microbiologists and Specialists of Infectious Diseases).
- Best Oral Presentation Award in 2014 (National Conference (Indian Society of Animal Production and Management).
Despite these honourable moments and recognitions from around the country, what excites me is the love and appreciation from the owners of the animals I treated. A veterinarian like me, who serves in the rural areas of Himachal Pradesh, sometimes gets Pure Ghee from the cow whose life was saved six months back. Sometimes, I also get a bag of fruits into which farmers pour their love.