Besides possibly being the oldest veterinary hospital in the city, this is the only government hospital in old city area that provides free veterinary care in the area.

From curing Nizams pets to giving free medical care Story of Hyds oldest vet hospital All images: Nitin B
news Heritage Sunday, August 05, 2018 - 17:14

As one travels through the winding lanes of Hyderabad's old city area, it is hard to miss this building on Kandikal gate road, less than a kilometer away from the Chandrayangutta Police Station.

‘Government of Telangana, Veterinary Hospital (Pathergatti) Chandrayangutta,’ the board reads. People of all ages from youngsters to old people can be seen holding dogs, goats and even chicken, whom they bring for treatment. 

Besides possibly being the oldest veterinary hospital in the city, this is the only government hospital in old city area that provides free veterinary care in the area.

According to officials, in a single day, the hospital treats up to 100 animals, with the figure even going up to 200 during the Bakri-Id season.

Speaking to TNM, Hospital Superintendent Dr MA Saboor says, "This is the only proper veterinary hospital in the entire old city area. While there is one Primary Veterinary Centre (PVC) near Malakpet race course, it is very small compared to the hospital. So, it is fair to say that we cover the entire old city area. Sometimes, people visit from other districts as well." 

"The hospital was set up during the time of the last Nizam of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan of the Asaf Jahi dynasty, sometime in the early 20th century, around the same time that Osmania General Hospital was set up," Saboor says of the hospital’s history.

According to the records, during the 1940s, the hospital was initially located near the place where Hotel Nayab stands today, close to the Musi river, next to Naya Pul. 

"At the time, the Nizam had elephants, horses and other animals that he had trained for domestic use, either to use as transport or as a hobby. Many big nawabs and royalty of the time also did the same, so there was a requirement for a vet hospital," Saboor narrates. 

"When the hospital was built, the Nizam said that like the head of a hospital for humans holds the title of a Superintendent, it should be the same for this hospital as well," Saboor says, explaining that he is technically the rank of an Assistant Director rank in the state's Animal Husbandry department, but holds the title of a Superintendent. 

While the hospital survived at the spot for many years, as Hyderabad expanded, costs increased, and it also became difficult to bring animals to the clinic, following which they shifted to a complex in Shah Ali Banda. 

Till around a decade ago, the hospital was shuffled around from one complex to another in the same area. 

With the help of Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi and other local politicians, the hospital has managed to stay at its present location for several years and has been going strong with a staff of just 8 people. 

Besides free service and mostly free medication, the hospital also offers vaccinations to the animals to avoid the spread of any potential diseases.

'Impatient owners'

One of the main problems faced by the hospital staff is that animal owners are often impatient and get irked easily.

"Many people mostly breed goats and sheep in the area, either out of a hobby or for religious festivals like Bakri-Id. However, they fail to understand that the animals have a different diet and a different process of digestion," explains Dr Srinivas Reddy, as he treats a small puppy at the hospital.

"While humans use acid to digest the food, such herbivores, generally referred to as ruminants, use fermentation and microbes to digest their food. Therefore, feeding them human food does more harm than good," he adds. 

As there is no space in the city for grazing, Srinivas rues that many of the owners buy grass and leaves from outside or feed the animals vegetable waste, which is laced with pesticide.

"The toxins are not digestible as animals eat the food raw and this results in internal poisoning, which may also damage their nervous system. Most of our cases are on these lines. It often gets tough to explain this to owners, who get angry and try to pick a fight with us," Srinivas explains. 

The hospital also treats many cases of maggot wounds and stray dog bites. Meanwhile, accessibility continues to remain a problem for the patients. 

"While they do good work here, each time we want to bring an animal it requires either two people on a two-wheeler or an auto. It is costly to travel and we end up spending more for transport than for treatment. If the doctor says we must come back for a review in a few days, we repeat the process again," one patient rues. 

"We may get 150 to 200 patients every day, but we get at least 400 to 500 humans a day accompanying them," Saboor quips. 

With Bakri-Id around the corner, it also means an added workload for the staff at the hospital.

"The head office helps us out if there are too many people during the season. We also coordinate with the police personnel from six police stations and other officials to ensure that everything is done properly. Many times, animals may get injured in transport or may catch a disease. We are roped in to conduct frequent checks on the animals," Saboor says. 

"Many times, a person with no idea on raising livestock may just buy a few animals with the intention of making a quick buck. However, because of unhygienic conditions, the animal may catch a contagious disease. We are constantly on the move to prevent that during the month," he added.

Despite all this, the government hospital continues to thrive and help several animals in need.