By Nicholas Peters
Growing up on a farm creates an interesting disposition for one’s relationship with animals. The relationship fostered is one whereby you can devote yourself to the betterment of the wider animal population. And volunteering his time for the well-being of animals is Dr Nardeo Bassoodeo, a veterinarian, of course.
On the farm, the animal is your livelihood and once they’re happy the family is happy which is what Dr. Bassoodeo says he learnt from an early age. Along the way he also learnt some basic techniques in animal care, as there weren’t any licenced veterinarians where he lived in Woodley Park, West Coast Berbice.
Bassoodeo spent most of his time as a young boy on a family range along the Abary River, where his grandfather mentored him a lot on the ways of animals. He related that he had a lot of pets growing up, which played a part in fostering his love for animals.
“Growing on a farm meant that I had many pets. We had goats, sheep, roosters, and we even had monkeys.”
Some of these pets would also help out members of the community with some of their needs. At one time, Bassoodeo had two pet donkeys named Paulette and Fred, which were hired twice to transport the bride and groom at weddings.
Over time, the veterinarian’s devotion to animals deepened as he saw just how useful and vital they are to the wellbeing of humans in many instances. Through chores, playtime and in supporting their livelihood, he gradually saw how animals fit into the scheme of human development.
But it wasn’t until he was 11 years old when his pet dog, Rio, died, that Bassoodeo realised how directly his care for animals would affect him. He knew then that he wanted to help them in the best way he could.
However, this was not an easy pursuit. He related that when he was about 15, he wanted to drop out of school, but was urged to continue his studies by his father, who was very serious about educating his children.
“I remember his exact words being that he’d ‘rather be a beggar than to have a child drop out of school,’” said Bassoodeo, who reiterated that his father made sure his children received their education.
The 34 year-old veterinarian is now licenced and has been practicing locally for over six years.
Since working here, Dr. Bassoodeo has noticed that one of the country’s biggest problems is its high number of stray animals dangerously roaming the streets. And it is to this area that Bassoodeo has devoted much of his voluntary services.
Recently, he provided his surgical expertise to an animal sterilisation initiative that was organised by animal activist Genevieve Beepat in Lusignan, East Coast Demerara. The project had over 17 cats and dogs sterilised with the intention of reducing the prevalence of strays.
He has also been involved in other similar initiatives, including one where he sterilised 10 dogs at the National Agriculture Research Extension and Institute (NAREI). In all he’s volunteered his sterilisation services at least six times.
When asked why he continues this type of volunteerism, Bassoodeo responded that it simply breaks his heart to see animals treated badly.
“Almost every day you see a dead animal on the public road, sometimes for days,” Bassoodeo reflected, “and it’s heartbreaking to know that it could have been prevented.”
The veterinarian also cited that strays can prove a problem for farmers’ livestock and the health of children and adults; creating losses for farmers and spreading diseases and parasites among humans.
Helping animals ultimately helps people, is the reasoning behind the vet’s initiatives.
For the future, Bassoodeo, along with his wife Devi and other colleagues, intends to continue his gracious quest and hopes that such initiatives expand to other regions in the country. In fact, he’s currently organising a project in parts of Berbice, including in his home village.
Dr. Bassoodeo spends so much time devoted to his work and goals that it causes one to wonder what his family thinks of it all.
“Daddy says I spend all my time in veterinary medicine and I don’t have time for family, but he’s supportive of what I do since it’s for a good cause and I could be doing worse things,” he said with a smile.
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