Vets Beyond Borders – helping the animals of Thursday Island

Most people have heard of Médecins Sans Frontières – Doctors Without Borders – but few would realise there is an Australian based animal equivalent doing amazing work to ease the suffering of animals around the globe.

Vets Beyond Borders (VBB) is a not-for-profit charity established in 2003.

It’s a selfless network of volunteer vets and vet nurses who travel to areas of desperate need where they link up with partner organisations to deliver animal health services, as well as other important work such as humane animal population control initiatives, and community awareness programs.

They also deliver free clinical training to vets and vet nurses working in regions where ongoing education is prohibitive due to cost or access.

Recently, VBB volunteers were deployed to Thursday Island in the Torres Strait, a small community of about 3000 mostly indigenous residents, where they teamed with the Animal Welfare League Queensland (AWLQ) and the Thursday Island Animal Support Group (TIASG) to treat over 130 animals in four days.

Thursday Island resident and her dog. Image supplied

Dr Sally Colgan, CEO of Vets Beyond Borders, says the charity is proud of its efforts in bringing desperately needed vet care to areas that need it the most.

“We often find pet owners in remote communities have the best interests of their animals at heart, but don’t have ready access to emergency or routine veterinary services”

“It was so encouraging to be welcomed by the community and to feel that our work was really needed and appreciated.” said Dr Colgan.

But it’s not just animals that benefit from their work. VBB were instrumental in the establishment and rollout of the SARAH (Sikkim Anti-Rabies & Animal Health) Program in India.

Rabies has the highest mortality rate of any disease on earth if left untreated – close to 100%.

The program has seen tens of thousands of dogs vaccinated for the disease, which has resulted in not only a significant improvement in animal health but also a dramatic reduction in human rabies deaths.

In fact, health data suggests dog-mediated rabies is all but eliminated in the state of Sikkim. In a country with over 20,000 rabies deaths per year – the highest in the world – this is a remarkable achievement.

This is just one example of the invaluable contribution the VBB has made to the lives of both animals and humans in the developing world.

VBB team photo on Thursday Island. Image supplied

As they receive no government funding, VBB are completely reliant not only on their volunteer workers, but also on donations from supporters and those who strive to see a better outlook for animals on the global scale.

It’s a cause worthy of consideration for any animal lover.

To help support Vets Beyond Borders visit their web site: