A pet topic

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MARIA FERNANDES | NT

Pets and pet care was the topic for The Navhind Times ‘Talk from the Heart’ episode that aired live on the Goa 365 channel on Sunday, February 28. Well-known veterinarian, Gustavo Pinto, who has over 40 years of experience, was the resource person for the hour-long show.

Pinto who was born in Africa spoke about his love for nature and animals and explained why and how he came about choosing veterinary as his profession. “I was born in Africa and am a nature lover as well as love animals. It was my dream to become a vet and work with wild animals. In fact, I was all set to apply to a university in Uganda. However due to Idi Amin coming into power, we moved to Goa and I joined a college here. It was not by luck but by choice that I took up this profession,” he said.

Highlighting the benefits of having a pet, he explained: “He who has a pet or an animal is a better human being! The love we get from animals is pure and unconditional. They can always be trusted and don’t pass judgement. Hence it is highly recommended that people should have a pet or an animal in their life.”

While owning a pet is rewarding not everyone is open to the idea as it is a huge responsibility. Hence before deciding to get a pet, one has to look into many areas. “The first thing is space and where you live,” advised Pinto. “If you live in an apartment then you should get a small pet like a rabbit, hamster, or dog. If you have more space and live in a bungalow then you can keep bigger animals.” He also spoke about time and affordability as other factors that need to be looked into. “Animals need love, attention, and care. They cannot be left alone for a long period of time and pet owners need to commit time to their pets,” he added.

On the topic of stray animals and how they are to be approached, he explained: “You should approach the animals in a way that they do not feel threatened. It is not right to approach the animal suddenly and give it reason to attack. You should be friendly towards it but not take foolish risks.”

Speaking expansively on the dog menace issue, he emphatically stated: “When the word menace is used in connection with wild animals that eat farm crops and enter people’s homes, I object strongly to the use of that word. It is not the animals but us, humans who have created the problem.”

With regards to stray dogs, Pinto agreed that they should not be allowed to roam freely as they can attack, bite people and spread rabies. “But then the animal welfare programme needs to be implemented. These dogs too have rights and I believe they should be collected and housed. They need to be cared for, fed, treated and vaccinated. In this manner the stray dog population can be controlled,” he said. Highlighting the importance of vaccinating animals, he also spoke about the good work done by Dog Temple, Arambol in vaccinating strays.

Answering a viewer’s question as to how to treat tick infestation, he replied: “It is a serious problem and hence no one treatment will do. At least three out of four things need to be done.” He then explained the usage of anti-tick shampoo, drops, collar, and the injection. “This injection has to be used judiciously and your vet is the best person to decide when and how often it is to be given,” he added.

Another very serious problem with dogs is rabies and asked how does one know if their dog has got rabies, Pinto answered: “As a lay person it is not very easy to detect if your dog has rabies, but the first thing the dog will do is stop eating. His/her behaviour will become abnormal/aggressive and he or she will even attack its owner. Finally, there is frothing and paralysis.” He then gave various tips on how to handle dogs with rabies and emphasised the need for intervention by a vet.

Various other questions were answered and many doubts cleared. It was an informative and well-spent morning especially for pet owners and animal lovers!