( Outside of the Closed Veterinary Hospital being used as a car park )
Dehra Dun is known as the City of Dog lovers and a majority of Doonites have a dog at home. This love for dogs is not restricted to upper class families with most middle and lower economic class families also having a pet at home. One estimate puts the number of pet dogs in Dehra Dun at over 10,000. Serving these pet dogs and other animals in Dehra Dun are numerous vets in the private sector and one Government run hospital.
The Government Veterinary Hospital, located in Dispensary Road enjoys a reputation of good quality low cost veterinary care and unlike some private practitioners, does not fleece patients. People in Doon have a high regards for the hospital and have used its services over generations. People living in the area believe that the hospital was started in 1902 by the British as a Dog Clinic, while its present building was built in 1944.
( Plaque in memory of a dead dog! )
Fortunes of the hospital have sadly taken a downturn with the birth of Uttarakhand. Rising land prices, burgeoning population, increasing traffic and desires of politically connected people have made the 13 bighas of hospital land an object of avarice. Under the pretext of creating civic amenities, a Government Order was issued last year for vacation of the main building of the hospital. The hospital is now running from 3 rooms of a residential house and there are apparently plans to shift it finally to Transport Nagar.
The Veterinary Hospital being the only one of its kind in Dehra Dun serves people of the entire city and so needs to be centrally located. Shifting it to a peripheral location will deprive a vast majority of Doonites of good affordable care for their animals. The worst hit will be middle and poor class families who will be forced to go to private vets for treatment. Out of a daily OPD of around 20, 80% of the people are from middle and poor class families who do not own cars and bring their pets to the hospital in autorikshaws. Taking their pets to Transport Nagar, a good 12 kms from the present location of the hospital will not be practical for most people. On an average 3 – 5 operations are performed here every day. Surgeries which cost about Rs 2000/- in private clinics are done here for Rs 40/-. Therefore moving the hospital from its present central location to a peripheral location will hit people hard, especially the poor and middle class families, the very class of people the Government claims to be concerned about.
The hospital also looks after stray animals and has a shelter for abandoned cattle. Injured stray animals from all over the city are brought here and treated. This too is bound to suffer if the hospital is shifted to the outside of the city.
While it is true that the hospital can make do with much less land than the 13 bighas it currently has, it is also true that any hospital should be centrally placed and easily accessible to the population it caters for, be it humans or animals.
Therefore even if the government goes ahead with its plans to bulldoze the historical Hospital building and replace it with a parking lot or a Mall, it should ensure it leaves enough space for a newly built Veterinary Hospital in the same location. After all, development should not proceed without humanity and compassion.
( Veterinary Hospital, Dehra Dun presently working from a small residential building )
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