The veterinary surgery department of state-owned Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), Ludhiana, these days has been treating its very special patient – Eva, a three-year-old Gull terrier exotic breed female dog. The pup has come especially from Paris with her owner Sanjeev Jangwal, a Punjabi NRI settled in Paris, for a ‘cruciate ligament surgery’ of her leg that had left her lame and limping.
Eva was in great pain and vets in Paris had estimated cost of surgery at around €4,500 (around Rs 3.2 lakh). Almost a week after her surgery – which happened in Ludhiana, not Paris – on January 31, Eva is recovering well and is back on her legs now. She understands only French instructions, so though doctors here are struggling to make themselves understood, her owner is beaming.
It’s not only because his darling pet is now pain-free, but also because the surgery cost him a meagre sum of Rs 800, that is, €11.
Even if you include the cost of tests and medicines, total expense has been Rs 8,000. A specialised fish line thread used in surgery cost £92 (around Rs 7,740) was delivered from London.
“Even if I include cost of Eva’s airplane ticket, I have spent less than Rs 1 lakh on her treatment and she is doing great now. The surgery only was costing me Rs 3.5 lakh in Paris so I headed back home for it. I ordered thread from London as GADVASU doctors said its results would be better,” says Jangwal, who treats Eva as his ‘only family’.
Jangwal is not the only one to head back home for the medical treatment and surgery of their pets with the aim to save a huge amount of money. The new trend, according to vets, is giving rise to vet medical tourism in India which is a ‘growing field’.
“It was an extremely painful condition that Eva was in. It is not a rare surgery but a specialized one in which knee joint is opened and in Western countries if condition worsens, vets even suggest going for euthanasia. Surgery being too costly there, many opt for euthanasia but with growing vet medical tourism, NRIs are landing in India to get their pets treated,” says Dr Arun Anand, associate professor, veterinary surgery, GADVASU.
“A hole was drilled and thread installed to stabilise the knee joint. Eva is back to playing and eating,” he added.
Harmeet Grewal, an NRI from Canada, is getting her Pomeranian Cultural dog treated at Vets For Pets in Ludhiana. She said, “Cost effectiveness is a major factor. Treatment, medicines and even food for pets, everything is just too expensive abroad. My dog Murphy had severe stomach infection and eczema on legs.”
“Treatment for pets in India is way cheaper with almost same facilities available abroad but in some cases ticket is too costly,” says Vipan Puri, whose daughter before shifting from Singapore to the US left their Australian Silky Terrier dog Mocha with him for a similar reason. “Mocha is undergoing treatment for a brain-related problem resulting in fits, but is doing fine now,” added Puri.
“Maybe NRIs are saving their money but it is a win-win situation for India as vet tourism holds major potential,” says Dr Jaspreet Singh from Vets For Pets.