Caymanian student heads to Asia on wildlife rescue mission

Melanie Moore worked with exotic animals, like this serval, at Florida's Big Cat Rescue.

From rescuing injured elephants in Thailand to caring for stray dogs and cats on the streets of Nepal, a young Caymanian vet student is embarking on an exotic volunteering trip.

Melanie Moore developed her passion for caring for animals at Island Veterinary Services, where she has worked as a volunteer and an intern since she was 14.

Now she is heading to Asia for six weeks as part of the Ontario Veterinary College’s Global Vets initiative, which allows student vets to provide support to animal health projects in developing countries.

Ms. Moore, 24, a second year student at the vet college in Guelph, Ontario, has worked on dog washes and spay-and-neuter programs in Cayman and even volunteered at Big Cat Rescue in Florida.

But nothing in her short career so far has prepared her for what awaits at the Wildlife Friends Foundation, where she could be working on anything from elephants and tigers to snakes and gibbons.

The center rescues and rehabilitates animals from the illegal pet trade, as well as from rogue tourism facilities. It also employs vets to work in the field, assisting sick or injured animals.

Ms. Moore, who will travel to Thailand in May for four weeks along with three of her fellow students, said she was excited to work with such a diverse range of animals.

“I think it will be life-changing,” she said.

Caymanian student Melanie Moore, second from left, is heading to Asia with fellow vet students to assist with animal welfare projects in the region.

“I have always had a passion to make a difference, especially in local communities. I have worked with Dr. Brenda [Bush] on grassroots initiatives in Cayman, dog washes and spay-and-neuter programs. Being able to make a difference is what keeps me going every day.”

Ms. Moore and her fellow students will head straight from Thailand to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, where they will work with the KAT treatment center, which attempts to provide care to the more than 22,000 stray dogs roaming the streets.

Ms. Moore said, “They go into the streets and treat cats and dogs with minimum equipment.”

She hopes her research into the spread of diseases through parasites among animals will also be useful in Nepal.

Melanie Moore with her mentor Dr. Brenda Bush, of Island Vets. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER

“A lot of these animals live very closely to humans and the parasites the dogs carry can be passed on to humans, so it is a public health concern as well,” she said.

Ms. Moore added that she was thankful to her parents Lorna Walton and Allan Moore for supporting her passion, and to Dr. Brenda Bush at Island Vets for being a mentor since she was a teenager.

Dr. Bush said she expects great things from her protege.

“She is going to surpass anything I have ever done in life,” she said. “I am so proud of her and her potential. She started here when she was in the ninth grade. Normally we don’t take students that young, but she has such a passion for veterinary medicine.”

Anyone who wants to help support the trip or any of the charities involved can contact Ms. Moore at [email protected]

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now