Pets’ unending wait for their masters moves many at Kerala landslide site
A settlement of tea estate workers in Rajamalai of Idukki was hit by the landslide early on Friday. More than 40 people have died and more are missing.Updated: Aug 10, 2020 16:17 IST
Two dogs have been quietly moving around at the site of a landslide in Kerala’s Idukki district for last three days looking for their missing masters amid loud wails of relatives and noise of earth removers and rock cutters.
Tragedy struck on Friday in Rajamalai near the misty getaway of Munnar when a portion of Pettimalai hills caved in razing at least 30 houses of poor tea plantation workers.At least 49 people have died and 24 are still missing.
Some of the rescue officials tried to feed the dogs but they refused but later some local residents prodded them to take a few bites, said Muniyandi, a plantation worker who has been at the site since Saturday.
“The pets’ plight moved all. Whenever a body was extricated they used to rush to the spot and smell the area and return to the rocky shade waiting for the next. Tears rolled from many eyes seeing their desperate moves. No doubt a dog is man’s best friend,” MJ Babu, a senior journalist from Munnar, said.
Some people tried to take these dogs, a black and a grey-haired, to their homes but they stood their ground. Babu said residents have no idea how they survived nature’s fury and some of them even said that many domestic animals were restless the night before the tragedy.
Meanwhile, Maya, a police sniffer dog on her first major assignment, has won many hearts in Rajamalai by helping spot at least six bodies from under the slush. Police said Maya and Dona were pressed into service on Sunday. Maya is trained in locating dead bodies and Dona, a labrador, is an expert in sniffing living people from under the earth, they said. While Dona’s role was limited as the scope of survivors was thin, Maya was on a roll.
“She is yet to complete one year in service. Belonging to Belgian Malinois breed, she had completed nine months’ training and six more months training remains. A good performer, she has surprised us all,” P Prabhat, her handler, said. He said the two sniffers belong to the fresh batch of 35 canines inducted into the dog squad of the Kerala police headquartered in Thrissur.
Loknath Behera, Kerala’s director general of police who had a brief stint with the National Investigation Agency (NIA), said there are 150 trained dogs in the canine squad and they can sniff out drugs, explosives, cadavers, alcohol and have helped solve murders, robberies, gold smuggling and other illegal activities.
“We have a retirement home for police dogs. And we decorate them with proper rank based on their service and performance. Maya has done wonders on her first assignment itself and she will be rewarded properly,” the state police chief said, adding she helped spotting many bodies and she will remain there for some time.