Post-op snuggles are a necessary

Post-op snuggles are a must

“Spay-cation” – a spay centered (surgical procedure performed on dogs and cats to sterilise them) externship with enough time to also have a small vacation.

Throughout the UCD Veterinary Medicine degree programme, students are expected to undergo 24 weeks of EMS (extra-mural service) or “seeing practice” with veterinary practices in Ireland or abroad. So this summer, entering our final year of Veterinary Medicine in UCD – myself and two friends decided to take advantage of the ‘abroad’ option for our EMS and head to Malta for 2 weeks in June to work with Happy Paws Animal Clinic which provides  neutering procedures for stray cats and dogs on the island.

Malta has a large stray cat population with cats being found across the island. You’ll come across them at every corner, or napping in gardens, or even walking carefree through the city streets. However what struck me the most was how unlike stray cats in Ireland, the strays in Malta looked happy and quite healthy due to the kindness of people on the island acting as caretakers or feeders. Happy Paws Animal Clinic works with these caretakers who trap the strays they care for and bring them to be neutered which will ultimately help to control the population of cats and reduce the spread of diseases.


Our role on this externship was to help with the pre and post op care of the cats and dogs as well as scrubbing in and assisting with surgical procedures. There was then plenty of time after the operations to enjoy exploring the island and relaxing on the beach!



Clockwise from top left: View of a lighthouse from Fort St. Elmo; Upper Barrack Gardens; Azure Window on the Island of Gozo (featured on Game of Thrones); the crystal clear blue waters of the Blue Lagoon on the Island of Comino


Malta luckily has a really good bus system (and it’s not expensive either) so we were able to travel all around the island over our 2 weeks to visit different tourist attractions as well as taking a day trip to the Maltese islands of Comino and Gozo. Malta itself is an enchanting island full of beautiful little cities with winding streets and welcoming people.


The view from the Hilton Hotel in St. Julians – I mean, just look at it! (Disclaimer – we  didn’t stay here (we wish!) but we did visit for Afternoon Tea and the spectacular views)