In her latest blog, Captain Joanna Lowe of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps writes about a busy veterinary engagement clinic and the events immediately following it.
The most recent veterinary engagement clinic was run from Check Point (CP) Yellow 14 in the Combined Force Lashkar Gah Area of Operations. Having seen approximately 700 livestock in the morning – including two very bemused chickens, a herd of goats that had been brought in because they were ‘lazy’ and a sheep that was reported to be ‘dizzy’ – we settled down for a well deserved cup of tea.
A while later, I was approached by a member of the Afghan National Police (ANP) from the front gate as a farmer from that morning had returned to the CP with a dead sheep, reporting that I had killed it with medicine. He had come seeking compensation for his loss from the Military Stabilisation and Support Team (MSST) representative (worth up to $150 for a sheep). However, on examining the sheep’s carcass, which had been carried in on the back of a very patient donkey, the diagnosis was clear. Rather than suffering a fatal reaction (of which there was no evidence on the body) to the extremely safe worming product that had been administered, the more probable cause of death was loss of blood as a result of a deep incision to the throat. After suggesting this alternative hypothesis to the farmer he thought carefully for a moment before countering that he had killed it pre-emptively as he could tell that the medicine was going to kill it. By this time the interpreter, the crowd of ANP who had come over to investigate the commotion and the farmer’s friend who had accompanied him into the CP were laughing openly as the story about the sheep’s sorry demise was looking more and more far-fetched. In a last ditch attempt to salvage something from the situation the farmer asked once more whether he could have compensation, although the sheepish look on his face said he already knew the answer…
Compensation is awarded to farmers who have lost livestock as a direct result of ISAF action – for example if they are caught in an artillery strike or involved in a road collision. This incident illustrates that the farmers are aware of the scheme, but also highlights the negative effects that inappropriately awarded compensation could have. Had this farmer successfully gained the lucrative payout, I have no doubt that a dozen more sheep would have met their maker prematurely that day!