Hospitals for Animals
It is said that the Buddhists were the first to make hospitals for animals many centuries ago. If this is true, they did so because it was part of their religious belief that it was a sin to kill any living thing, and a virtue to keep it alive if possible.
But the reasons for keeping hospitals for animals in modern times are different. For one thing, in modern times has grown up the feeling of kindness to animals. We feel that the tame animals that serve us so well, like horses, dogs, donkeys, camels, and so on, have a claim upon our mercy and justice; and that to treat these dumb and hopeless creatures, that depend upon us, cruelly, is cowardly and unfair. We feel, therefore, that when they fall ill, we must do all we can to soothe their pain and make them well; for they are our humble friends.
The other reason we have for caring for sick animals is, no doubt, a selfish one, though it is wise. Many of these animals are valuable and their illness or death would mean a great loss to their owners. A good horse may cost Rs. 500 or Rs. 1,000 or even much more; and its death would mean a great loss of money to its master. In the same way, cows and bullocks, sheep and goats, donkeys and mules, camels and buffaloes, are kept by men for the sake of profit; some as useful animals for riding, drawing carts, and ploughs, or carrying loads, and others for food. Naturally, their owners do not want to lose them, and so they are willing to pay doctors and hospitals to cure them when they fall ill.
We have hospitals for animals in most parts of India now, and they do very useful work. As animals suffer from their own special diseases, which are often different from human diseases, special animal doctors look after these hospitals. They are called “Veterinary” doctors, or for short, “Vets”. In these hospitals, the farmers can have their cattle and sheep treated, and people can send their sick horses and dogs there to be cured.
It is interesting to visit one of these hospitals for animals, and to see how well the patients are treated. Here are the clean, airy stables for sick horses, the kennels where dogs are kept in warm straw; and the sheds for cows and bullocks. The men are busy in cleaning the stables or bringing fresh fodder and grain; and the doctor is going round, examining all the patients, and giving his orders to his assistants just as in hospitals for human beings. He sees the medicine poured down a sick cow’s throat, bandages a horse’s sprained leg, or doctor a dog sick with distemper.