Volunteering Abroad through Vets Beyond Borders

Volunteering Abroad through Vets Beyond Borders

Looking to get out of AUS and benefit animal welfare abroad? Experience another culture, save animal lives, and travel as a vet with Vets Beyond Borders, which works with local government organisations is less developed countries to implement effective veterinary based programs.

Since 2003, VBB has surgically sterilized over 30,000 street dogs, preventing the birth of thousands of more street dogs each year. Vets have vaccinated over 65,000 dogs and cats against rabies and trained over 320 local veterinarians. VBB works with local governments to teach humane alternatives to euthanizing or impounding stray dogs.  From cancer repair to fracture repair, vets through VBB have treated thousands of pets who had never seen a vet. They’ve developed kennels and infrastructure for veterinary clinics overseas and worked with wonderful people within the local communities.

It’s easy to make traveling a time for fun and holiday, and to associate work with time spent at home in Australia, but making a difference in lesser privileged community is rewarding. Animals and people depend on those who are willing to contribute and invest in international aid.  Hundreds of vets have volunteered in Sikkim, Ladakh, and Bylakuppe. You can catch a documentary about the Ladakh Program here.

**VBB has organised Animal Birth Control and Anti-Rabies Clinics with the following goals:

  • To humanely capture and surgical sterilise, then re-release to their orginial territory.
  • To rabies vaccinate and administer appropriate treatment while captured thus ensuring a stable, healthy, rabies free population.
  • To educate the local community about dogs being desexed and rabies vaccinated and thus no longer a perceived threat.
  • To educate and encourage owners of pet dogs to desex and vaccinate them.


If you fancy a trip to India, Thailand, Bali or the Cook Islands, consider Vets Beyond Borders, or one of the programs and projects by similar organisations.

Don’t have the time to go abroad, but want to get involved in other ways? Make a donation and attend a continuing education workshop. VetPrac is a proud supporter of Vets Beyond Borders, having raised over $10,000 through donations of auctioned workshops. For more information, contact Dr Ilana Mendels info@VetPrac.com


Treating Open Wounds

Dr Stephen Fearnside on Treating Open Wounds with B-Braun’s Prontosan


Dr Steve Fearnside

BVSc(Hons) FANZCVSc (Surgery)

Small Animal Surgeon and recent VetPrac Education Leader at the sold out Wound Management Workshop!

We asked veterinary specialist Dr Stephen Fearnside his thoughts on treating open wounds and using Prontosan, Wound Irrigation Solution by B-Braun. Here’s what he had to say!

Prontosan is important to veterinary medicine: it’s “useful for open wounds as wound lavage solution; it’s particularly useful for chronic open wounds with biofilm infection/ exudate.”

He’d learned about Prontosan from a B-Braun representative while in clinical practice for open wounds, he now uses it “weekly.”

Why does he use it?

“Convenient, relatively inexpensive, and easy to use. It’s a useful off the shelf product”

Practical Surgical Tips:

“Be careful wound debridement, appropriate open wound management using appropriate moisture retentive dressings, lavage solutions, timed closure or reconstruction.”

Why VetPrac Loves the Practical Product Prontosan:

“Only a clean wound can heal.” It’s gentle and patient friendly, with an easy 10-15 minute rinse, the surfactant (Betaine) removes debris within the wound.  It lasts up to eight weeks after opening, reduces chronicle inflammation, and absorbs wound odours.

Have questions about wound management? You can contact Dr Stephen Fearnside at SASH Vets (02) 98890289 or at sfearnside@sashvets.com

To learn more about Prontosan, Wound Irrigation Solution used at VetPrac workshops, check out B-Braun at www.bbraun.com.au


Meet Dr David Vella

David Vella 

BSc BVSc (Hons) Diplomate ABVP (Exotic Companion Mammal Practice)

Director, Sydney Exotics and Rabbit Vets


Experience: Small animal veterinarian in UK and Sydney 2007-2003. Exclusively exotics veterinarian 2004 – present.


Why Vets Love Him:

The first Australian vet to become Diplomate of American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in Exotic Companion Mammal Practice, Dr David Vella is also author to several papers and contributor to textbooks. Frequently involved in providing continuing education to vets and nurses via online courses, practical courses and seminars/conference presentations in Australia and Internationally, Dr Vella is also an Education Leader at the upcoming VetPrac Workshop: Rabbit Surgery and Dentistry.


Why We Love Him:

Dr Vella likes to spend time with family,  “two boys under five years at home makes for fun and busy times!”  “I also like travel, music, cooking and gardening.”


On Rare Days Off…

It’s “Family time! When at home, cooking and gardening – I like the balance of ‘here you go’ (cooking) and ‘wait and see’ (gardening).”


Words from our Specialist:

“Rabbit dentistry can be a challenging and rewarding area to hone your skills. Owing to the continuous growth of their teeth, the rabbit mouth is dynamic in its appearance and can change from week to week, especially when dental disease is present. Knowledge of normal anatomy and radiographic changes are essential when working in this area. Getting the right radiographic projections of the skull is especially important in diagnosing and formulating treatment plans. Managing the patient perioperatively and anaesthetically add to the overall challenge.”


What to Look Out For:

“Rabbits have an extensive orbital venous sinus which can become your friend or foe when performing an enucleation procedure. If you inadvertently cut into this you rapidly experience a blood filled surgical site and stemming the blood flow can be challenging. We’ll learn how to carefully avoid this in our VetPrac classes.”


Experience that You Won’t Learn from a Textbook:

“Intubating and anaesthetising small mammals – especially rabbits! Anaesthesia of rabbits doesn’t need to be a ‘scary’ procedure.”

“Enrofloxacin is not the ‘go-to’ drug for all exotics patients! Exotics patients can receive fluid therapy that is not confined to just subcutaneous crystalloid injections. They can have crystalloids, colloids, and blood transfusions. They can be delivered readily intravenously and intraosseously via metered pumps.”

“Enrofloxacin usually doesn’t help (when used alone) to treat rabbit dental infections. Yes, some penicillins (more suited to treat the mixed – often anaerobic infections associated with rabbit dental infections) can be used and are commonly employed for this in rabbits.”

“One of the most important and commonly employed surgical techniques to learn in exotic companion mammal practice is intradermal (or subcuticular) suturing for skin incisions/wounds.”

Advice to New Graduates:

“Try to work with as many vets as possible. Making mistakes is an important part of learning. Talk and share experiences regularly with your colleagues. If you want to pursue exotics medicine and surgery, consider getting some exposure to dog/cat practice first. There are also many great resources to be found in the North American and European veterinary exotics field.”


A VetPrac exclusive interview by Stephanie Buelna.

Dr David Vella is an Education Leader for the  upcoming VetPrac workshop: Rabbit Surgery and Dentistry. For workshop information, contact Dr Ilana Mendels info@vetprac.com


For questions regarding exotic animal surgery, feel free to contact Dr Vella at exoticvetinfo@gmail.com or check out his website www.exoticvet.com.au