The city was seen getting its first-ever animal cancer care centre at the Advanced Centre for Treatment Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC), Tata Memorial Centre in Kharghar recently. The centre was inaugurated by doctor and social worker Dr Prakash Amte, son of Baba Amte, and his wife Dr Mandakini Amte. The brainchild of Dr Rajiv Sarin, director of ACTREC, and veterinarian Dr Pradip Chaudhari, this centre has been called ‘Kukurripa’.
The centre aims to provide all modern tests, scans, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery to animals, domestic or stray, suffering from cancer. The centre is named ‘Kukurripa’ after the mythological mahasiddha sage who lived in India, nurtured a weak dog to full health, enjoyed its company for many years and finally left the pleasures of heaven to come back to earth to look after his beloved dog.
At the inauguration recently, Dr Prakash Amte saw the treatment of cancer-affected dogs in the centre and shared anecdotes on how they saved the lives of many wild animals and showed pictures of him and his little grandson playing with tigers, hyenas and poisonous snakes. Talking to MiD DAY about the centre Dr Rajiv Sarin said that many people do not know that cancer is a common disease in some animals, especially in pet dogs and cats.
“In the western countries, one out of every four pet dogs develop cancer and receives modern cancer treatment. As there was no specialised cancer treatment facilities for animals in India till a few years ago, pets diagnosed with cancer were not offered any treatment and were usually put to sleep to put an end to their suffering.
Moved by the struggle and emotional reaction of families caring for these loving animals, we decided to help them. In addition to this humane approach we also wanted to conduct ethical research during the course of their medical investigations and treatment. This research was necessary to understand why cancer was not sparing even our pets, why certain types of cancers were more common in certain species or breeds, and how to treat them more effectively with less side-effects,” said Sarin who had visions of this centre for a long time.
However, he added that it took him many years to get a veterinarian like Dr Chaudhari who had a genuine interest and experience in this field. “Together we started doing CT scans, chemotherapy and cancer treatment for cancer-affected pets and stray animals.
While our hospital has best of the facilities for cancer investigations and treatment, it is for humans. Therefore these animals had to be treated in an ad-hoc fashion in makeshift arrangements. About two years ago we made ambitious plans for a dedicated facility to provide total cancer care for animals suffering from this disease, and ‘Kukurripa’, our new animal cancer care centre, is the first major phase of our plans.
This centre has all the facilities for cancer check up, surgery, kennels and chemotherapy under one roof,” added Dr Sarin, emphasising that the treatment at the centre is offered free of charge but many owners give donations to support the activities. In fact, the new centre has been established through very generous donations by a few families who have lost their dogs to this disease. Other vets from the city said that it was nice to know that the city has got its very first dedicated animal cancer care centre.
Navi Mumbai-based vet Dr Vilas Deokar said, “It’s nice to know that the centre would facilitate learning and research of cancers in animals while they are being treated. This is definitely a very positive move. With pets also these days, not being safe from cancer it has become important to understand the cause of the disease.”
Another vet Dr Subhash Dalvi said the centre would benefit animals largely. “Many times if a dog is detected with cancer, we do not have all the techniques to treat the animal at our clinic. Here the animal can get all the facilities required for its treatment under one roof.”
In case a person wants to bring any cancer-affected animal to the Kharghar centre, they need to fix an appointment by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling animal cancer helpline at 022-27405000, extension 5451