Our own ‘James Herriots’…

IT'S AN ANIMAL WORLD: Madurai's Veterinary Poly Clinic is dubbed as the best. Photo: R. Ashok   | Photo Credit: R_ASHOK

It is just about nine in the morning. But Dr.Senthil Kumar has already examined a dozen patients -- a Pomeranian with pus in the uterus, a German Shepherd with an injury in the ear, a Pug with jaw pain, an aggressive dog and another whimpering in pain, two more with tick fever.

Dr. Senthil Selva Kumar is assessing a bleeding cow clipped of its horn as the owner tells him he left the animal for grazing and it returned with the injury.

Dr.K.Vairavasamy gives an injection to the goat lying on a stretcher making a strange sound.

Dr. N.Selvaraju, the chief clinician arrives to take rounds and enquires with the staff about the surgery to be performed later in the afternoon on a Pomeranian for removal of stones in the urinary bladder.

Pet lovers wait with their dogs, cat, pigs, cattle, rabbit, sheep, parrots as all creatures big and small are treated with much love and care at Madurai’s Veterinary Polyclinic, one among the six in the State. It is dubbed as the best with 100 per cent success rate and has also been awarded the Best Governance Award. Some of its vets have received the Best Doctor Award in the years gone by.

The polyclinic completed 20 years last month but the reputed institution is among the oldest in Tamil Nadu as it earlier functioned as a veterinary hospital established in 1922.

If the institution has earned goodwill and trust of the people in and around Madurai -- judging by the record number of OP (Out Patient) and referral cases -- it is entirely because of the team of Veterinary Assistant Surgeons (VAS) who provide their services with compassion.

Their love of the animal world shines even on gloomy days when they are faced with difficult surgeries and heart-wrenching accident situations. “There are poor farmers who scrape their meagre earnings together to get proper care for their working animals that are injured in some highway accident,” says Dr.Senthil.

Then there are also the over-fed and pampered pets and their uncooperative owners who are even ignorant of what ails the animal. The veterinary surgeons team up day after day to discover the variety and challenges of veterinary practice and find solutions.

But, says, Dr.Senthil Selva Kumar, over the years, pet owners, pet popularity and pet awareness, all have grown sizeably.

“We are not a VIP Hospital. And though it is a government institution, we give the best service, do the most complicated surgeries and have earned peoples’ faith,” follows up Dr.Selvaraju.

You need to have passion for pets if you are to give your best here, says Dr.Vairavasamy. But all of them (the fourth VAS is Dr.John Suresh) do make a candid confession.

Either they themselves or their parents wanted them to do medicine. When they lost that seat they joined veterinary sciences and once in, their motivation to care for animals never waned -- Even when they were faced with harsh realities.

Like Dr.Selvaraju, who worked in villages for 29 years, recalls how it used to sadden him to see people take their old, diseased or injured animals to the slaughter house to gain a few bucks than to spend on the animal’s surgery or treatment. Even though most services are free, in the case of large animals requiring caesarean or having fractured limbs, the owners preferred to opt out of medical care.

He has several times gone to the owner’s home, prepared a bed of mud and hay and performed surgeries under a lamp to save an animal. It is the silent dedication of such vets that has taken years to convince people of bringing their animals to the polyclinic now.

Till last year, the polyclinic did not have modern equipment to examine the patients who cannot express themselves in words. But now, the X-ray, laproscopy, ophthalscope, ECG and ultrasound machines have made it easy.

Dr.Senthil Selva Kumar cites the case of a Pomeranian brought with abdominal pain and bleeding. “Earlier we would go by owner’s version, medical history of the animal and our experience to decide upon a surgery. But now the ultrasound showed the dog with blocked urinary bladder and when we cut open, we were amazed to find 58 stones lodged inside,” says Dr.Senthil Kumar.

The owners were apparently feeding the pet with too much milk and it led to calcification and stones formation.

The veterinary surgeons also go on calls like they had to recently attend a temple elephant suffering from colic pain. “Devotees and VIP visitors overfed the pachyderm and it was in trauma the whole night and our doctor had to be there all through because elephants come under special purview among all animals,” says Dr.Selvaraju.

But finally it is the joy and triumph of saving a life that keeps these doctors of the animals going. The strain on them may be tangible being a government set up. But they take it in their stride and laugh it off. As Dr.Senthil Kumar says, “there are not many people with our sorts of skills and experience.” True, each of them is contributing to society in a wider context as more people continue to troop in with their furry and feathered friends.

About the clinic:

Madurai district has 80 dispensaries and four veterinary hospitals in Sedapatti, Melur, Samayanallur and Tirumangalam. The Polyclinic gets referral cases from all these units and Dr.R.Gopinath, Joint Director (Animal Husbandry) supervises the entire region. The unit head is Dr.N.Selvaraju under whom there are four VAS.

The Poly Clinic runs in two shifts from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The OP runs daily from 8 a.m. to noon and all surgeries are scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Most medicines and services are provided free and a nominal charge of Rs.75 is taken for some surgeries.

Together the team attends to 50,000 plus OP cases in a year, does over 3,500 minor operations and about 200 major operations.

Spaying and neutering of dogs, vaccinations for foot-and-mouth disease, deworming, canine rabies control are different programmes implemented and followed-up regularly. The Poly Clinic also has an artificial insemination centre and a well established laboratory for accurate diagnosis of diseases among animals. It is attached to the Animal Diseases Intelligence Unit.

The other five Poly Clinics in Tamil Nadu are in Chennai, Salem, Coimbatore, Trichy and Tirunelveli.


“We practise the best medicine and surgery for pets and livestock. We also build a strong owner and animal relationship” – Dr.N.Selvaraju

“Animal health care has been prioritised by making advanced equipment available to us. It helps in correct diagnosis and prompt treatment” – Dr.R.Gopinath

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 9:20:30 AM |

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