Judy Blythe is The Grange’s Practice Manager. That is to say she tries to manage quite an unruly bunch of powerful characters; vets, nurses and receptionists alike. As a result, Judy decided she was due to take time off and relax by flying to Vietnam to manage bears instead – bears, it seems, are far more simpler creatures to handle than vets.
To show how incredibly proud the whole team here at Grange Vets is of Judy’s exploits, we have asked her to share (when she can) her experiences that we may then share them with you. Below is her first entry explaining how she came about Animals Asia, and what started her passion in helping these wonderful creatures.
“I first “stumbled” across Animals Asia about 10 years ago when I was just idly looking at volunteer roles on the internet and was immediately struck by the aims of the charity to end the cruel bear farming industry in Asia. The fact that that they offered 3 month volunteer places to qualified veterinary nurses sounded like an incredible opportunity, although I had no idea how I could possibly manage to actually do it. So many reasons- my husband and son (would they cope?), affording the time off (I was self employed at the time so would not earn anything) , how could I expect the many different people I worked for to still employ me when I got back if I left them for such a long time? Gradually things slotted into place and in March 2008 I finally arrived at Animals Asia’s bear sanctuary an hour’s drive from Chengdu. This day coincided with Animals Asia’s largest rescue of Bears with 29 arriving that same day. I then played a small part in a dedicated team that worked 14 days from 8am often until after 10pm health checking and caring for those bears. At times it was traumatic; 11 of them had to be euthanised because of their horrendous and shocking condition but it cemented my commitment to do whatever I could to promote the cause to end bile farming across Asia.
Since then I returned the following year and spent another 3 months volunteering. That time I witnessed the distress caused to families when their pet dog is stolen for the meat trade. Da Huong was a dog that the volunteers walked every day. He belonged to a member of the kitchen staff who lived just outside the sanctuary gates and he spent the day tied up so that he could guard their house. One night he was snatched by two men with a van and the footage of the theft was caught on the security cameras. The veterinary staff went to the local police and after 24 hours they miraculously got him back. They had found him chained at the back of a restaurant with evidence of a recent killing, so presumably he was next if anyone ordered him. His owners (and all the staff) were so pleased to see him and they were advised to keep him out of view at the back of the yard. Tragically this same dog was snatched again about two years later and this time there was no happy ending.
After this second stint I also brought home another connection to China – my dog Tremor. We found him during my first visit (we were with the Red Cross after the Sichuan earthquake hence his name) and he was such a special little dog that I eventually persuaded my husband and the charity’s founder to let me bring him home.
As practice manager at Grange Veterinary Hospital I no longer do any hands on veterinary nursing (although I have been known to help with puppies during a caesarean) but of course I still have a strong interest in nursing generally. It is also not possible to take 3 months away. So I have been really fortunate that Animals Asia have given me special permission to just spend a month in Vietnam at their sanctuary because I don’t need to be taught all my duties from scratch. So for the next month I will spend my time preparing the medication for the bears, assisting the veterinary team during health checks, caring for the bears during their short stay at the hospital, cleaning the operating theatre and equipment and routine administration tasks – just like nurses at the Grange! The difference here is that in any spare time I can sit and watch the bears (and that it’s 35 degrees and humid) and bears are great fun to watch!”
Keep on checking our website for more blogs to come and keep tuned for more tales from China as Judy prepares to ‘bear’ all!
Grange Vets Team
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