When a rescued puppy from Faridabad made it to TorontoUpdated: Mar 12, 2019 00:11 IST
It was a chilly morning. A six-week-old black puppy had been hit by a car. Blood oozing from her nose and front paw, the puppy lay motionless surrounded by her mother, litter mates and other community dogs. But it had a chance. Someone took the puppy to a camp of visiting veterinarians in town.
It was not easy to access the potholed by lane leading to the People For Animals’ facility in Faridabad on whose invitation the team from World Vets, a global charity for animal welfare, was in the country. The by lane leading to the facility was choked and drains overflowing on either side, making the task of wading through difficult for both - the two- and the four-legged.
Inside, there was a team of over a dozen veterinary surgeons, technicians and support staff neutering, spaying, vaccinating and deworming dog after another, many of them community dogs from nearby areas.
The surgeries were being done in the middle of a slum, in an open area covered with tin sheets, two bulbs randomly hanging. Broken wooden tables steadied over a pile of bricks were being used as tables for the surgical procedures, much needed in a country which has an estimated 30 million strays and a grossly underfunded sterilisation programme.
In a country that often flaunts it pedigrees, this time the street dogs, routinely refused free treatment by most vets, were getting the attention.
Yet the way they were dragged in or dumped post-surgery held by the loose skin on their necks and tails by their handlers - was beyond control. No amount of cajoling or cautioning persuaded the dog handlers to be compassionate. So some volunteers, some well into their early 60s, decided to carry the dogs to the recovery area on their own.
The surgeries continued – one dog after another, and occasionally a cat, without a pause.
The six-week-old black puppy recovering from multiple surgeries was in a cardboard box along with another. She was quickly shoved under a wooden table. A paralysed dog was being cradled by a volunteer for want of space. A three-legged dog was being calmed by another. Some of the cats, still semi-conscious following their sterilisation, were put back in their carriers to keep them dry and warm.
Dr Winifred Neunzig’s, who heads the World Vets team said, as India has an endemic rabies problem she made sure the volunteers were vaccinated. The WHO, which aims to eradicate rabies in Asia by 2020, says that India accounts for 36 per cent of the world’s rabies deaths and the anti-rabies vaccines shortage is as high as 80 per cent.
“The sterilisation campaigns we put up around the world are usually quite similar. Our goal is to help a local animal advocate group, like a shelter or sometimes the government control dog and cat population,” she added.
She said the team was touched by the willingness of the stray dogs to trust. “They are clearly treated well by many humans to have this instinct,” she added.
The surgery camp was spread over two weeks. The venue for the camp in the second week was the National Institute of Animal Welfare in Faridabad where, for a change, the team had access to surgery tables and adequate lighting and a designated post-recovery area for the dogs. There was a happy adoption too – the black puppy now lives in Toronto with a World Vets volunteer.
(The author is an independent contributor)