The Vet Clinic in the Gambia: Charity for our Four-Legged, Furry Friends in Africa

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 A Brief History

On August 4th, 1761, the first veterinary school of medicine was founded by Claude Bourgelat in Lyon, France.

Digging Deeper

Claude Bourgelat did not study veterinary medicine himself; he had studied law but later directed an academy for horseback riding. He soon became an authority figure on horse management, and he wrote books on the morphology and anatomy of horses. His reputation brought him to the king’s attention, and the royal horse breeding program in the French province of Lyonnais was put under his supervision.

In addition to founding the first veterinary school of medicine in Lyon, Claude Bourgelat also founded another school in Alfort near Paris. Some of his students spread the concept across Europe and founded schools in Vienna, Austria and in Göttingen, Hannover, Berlin and Munich in Germany.

Today there are approximately 450 veterinary schools of medicine across the entire world. It was from the Free University of Berlin in Germany that Dr. Michael Meyer, co-founder of the Tourey and Meyer Veterinary Clinic in the Gambia, Africa, received his degree.

The Gambia is small country in Western Africa and former British colony. It has a high level of poverty, and there many stray animals roaming the streets.

Tourists playing with stray dogs in the Gambia.

Tourists playing with stray dogs in the Gambia.

After having vacationed in the Gambia and noticing that there was not a single veterinary clinic for small animals and pets, Dr. Michael Meyer decided to take a risk and loaded up his van with used equipment and drove to the Gambia where he and local veterinarian Dr. Bakary Touray co-founded their clinic in 2009.

Parallel to providing services to the local population, the clinic offers free spaying and neutering of stray dogs and cats in an effort to reduce their numbers. Hurt, sickly and mistreated animals receive additional care and are often placed into foster homes until they are well. Many efforts are made to stop the spread of disease.

To raise awareness for the clinic’s efforts, Dr. Michael Meyer, known affectionately as “Micha” records videos of his patients, the procedures and of life in the Gambia. These videos can be viewed on the Youtube channels, Vetclinicgambia and Cordylobia Anthropophaga. The most popular videos involve the removal of ticks and Cordylobia Anthropophaga, referred to more commonly as mango worms.

Micha’s two assistants who both go by the name of “Fatou are also popular with the audience.

The jewels of the clinic, Fatou Ceesay and Fatou Conta!

The jewels of the clinic, Fatou Ceesay and Fatou Conta!

The clinic has many supporters, both locally and abroad. One avid supporter is Marta Gil-Vaz, an artist who also has a connection with Africa; she was born in Angola, then moved with her family to Zimbabwe, before settling in England.

Inspired by her dying father who taught her to value, appreciate and respect animals, she started painting in her late 30s, and today she gladly paints animal portraits as a thank you for larger donations made to the clinic.

The author of this article donated some money to the clinic via Paypal and received a wonderful portrait of her cat in return. This, however, must be coordinated with Marta. She can be contacted at martavaz.42@gmail.com.

Portrait of the author's cat.

Portrait of the author’s cat (unfinished).

For more information on Micha, his clinic and team and how to donate, please go to http://www.vetclinicgambia.com/.

Historical Evidence

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About Author

Beth Michaels

Beth Michaels attended a private college in Northeast Ohio from which she earned a Bachelor’s degree in German with a minor in French. From there she moved to Germany where she attended the University of Heidelberg for two years. Additional schooling earned her certifications as a foreign language correspondent and state-certified translator. In her professional career, Beth worked for a leading German manufacturer of ophthalmological medical instruments and devices as a quality representative, regulatory affairs manager and internal auditor.