Bengaluru: A cow's agony amid doctors' neglect
While India is perhaps at the forefront of the paying lip service to the divinity of its bovines, when it comes to treatment of the sick and injured there is a lot left to be desired. Take for example the fate of an unnamed cow in the Bengaluru Veterinary College and Hospital that Newsable discovered during a visit.
The severely injured cow was hit by a reversing water tanker on Wednesday, April 20, and reportedly lay in pain by the roadside the rest of night with two broken legs. A day later the owner and milk seller, Harish managed to transport the injured animal to the college, with the help of an animal lover, Minu Naidu.
Once there however, treatment and relief was still quite far away as the animal found itself trapped in a web of beauracracy and lack of amenities. According to a regulation in the college, no animal may be treated if the owner is not present. And should the animal require surgery, like the unnamed cow, then the owner is obligated to stay overnight at the campus.
While this may not be a major issue for pet owners, it becomes a heavy burden for daily wage earners or diary owners like Harish.
"Owners cannot be around the animal 24x7. Once the animal is admitted to a veterinary college or animal hospital, it should be the responsibility of the institution," said Harish, whose ten other cows back home make staying overnight nearly impossible for him.
"One animal that was admitted a few weeks back with a broken leg also needed dressing. Since the owner was not present the aid was not done. We had to pressure the college authorities to do the procedure," added Minu, who has assisted in several such cases.
The large animals present in the college not only face hurdles for treatment but are hard-lucked even when it comes to post-operative care or basic maintenance.
There is no convenient place to keep such large animals in the surgery department and most times a volunteer has to stick around to ensure correct treatment and regular feedings.
The college faces a shortage of staff for such tasks and the animals are dependent on the mercy of animal lovers and other similar groups from around the area, who drop by whenever possible.
Seenappa, a volunteer at the college, said: "I have been coming at least once a day to the veterinary college hospital for over ten years now, to feed the animals. I feed grass and fodder to animals with hooves and biscuits and other food items to the dogs. The college does not have sufficient staff for to care for large animals."
The blame cannot be laid squarely at the door of the college either since they are facing red-tape barriers while trying to find solutions to the shortcomings.
A proposal has been sent to the Ministry of Animal Husbandry department asking for 12 additional staff for assistance.
However, the Dean of the Veterinary College, Dr Yathiraj S, pointed out that the college would still require three more surgeons, six assistants and a few more additional staff for 24x7 care.
Yathiraj said, "We normally ask owners to stay to avoid any blame if there are any complications during the surgery and treatment,"
He also refuted the claims by animal lovers regarding shoddy treatment.
"All the staff here are doing selfless service to animals," he claimed. "Whatever is available with college - be it medicines and also food - is given."
In a country where doctors are routinely beaten up by angry relatives of patients, perhaps this is not an unexpected line to take. Plus in the current atmosphere, the death of a cow can attract an unexpected attention.
However, somewhere amid all of these human concerns, the cow has seen no relief and is in fact expected to die.
The Dean gave the final sad verdict - "In cases of fractures, the animal has to be able to stand. But, in this case, two of its legs are broken."
"In other countries, such animals are euthanised to save it from going through a painful death. Dr Veerabadhraiah, who is the treating doctor, in this case, will leave it to the owner to decide," he added.
As of now, the cow has been given some dressing and continues to lie in pain at the college.