Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 14.31.28NORTH East veterinary staff have raised nearly £7,000 to help tackle the heartbreaking plight of Sri Lankan street dogs.

Westway Veterinary Group staff helped to organise a black-tie charity ball at the Hilton Hotel in Gateshead on behalf of the charity WECare Worldwide, set up a year ago by their colleague Janey Lowes.

The charity is supported by Westway, which supplies vets, nurses, drugs and medical supplies to the project. Vet Janey has been volunteering in Sri Lanka for more than a year, and has organised the neutering of nearly 1200 dogs and administered 1500 rabies vaccinations in a country where the disease is rife.

Sri Lanka is home to around three-million roaming dogs, many of which are suffering from broken bones, tumours and serious cases of mange. WECare Worldwide aims to provide treatment and also trains local vets to a higher standard so that they can diagnose and treat animals properly.

More than 150 people attended the ball on Halloween, and an auction of items, including a holiday to Sri Lanka, signed sport memorabilia, diving lessons and gym membership, raised £2,120 towards the final total of £6,736.

Vet Mandy Ball, who helped to organise the event with colleagues from Westway, visited Sri Lanka earlier this year to help with a mass vaccination and neutering programme.

She said: “The ball was a huge success and raised vital funds for a very worthwhile cause as WECare runs solely on donations.

The sheer number of animals who need help is overwhelming. A huge number of dogs are wandering around, but there aren’t the resources or the knowledge among local people to tackle what is a serious problem.

“As well as helping animals who need veterinary treatment, the charity helps to educate owners and neuter the animals, as well as vaccinate dogs against rabies.

“Many of them are suffering from skins problems, including mange, which causes severe itchiness, hair loss and loss of body condition. You see dozens of dogs sitting by the side of the road scratching.”

Westway – the biggest veterinary group in the North East which also owns Easyvets and Value Vets – donated £10,000 as a start-up fund for the work in Sri Lanka. The charity has a five-year plan to help free the island of rabies and reduce the number of stray dogs, as well as treat sick and injured dogs and cats until they are well enough to be rehomed.

As well as going out to help treat the animals, Westway staff organise fundraising events to pay for treatments and medical supplies.

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The first WECare charity ball was sponsored by Petplan Limited, Moorview Vets and Randall and Orchard Great Annual Savings. The night opened with 29 dancers from Future Bound performing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, North East comedian Cal Halbert was also on stage and the evening finished with a two-hour performance by eight-piece band Groove Allstars.

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