Dog Project 2008
DOG STERILIZATION PROJECT NOVEMBER 2008
(supported by Frendicoes Seca and Wildlife SOS)
Within 3 days of arriving on the island preparations for the project began.We had been given permission to use the community hall, but had no materials to make enclosures. Mr N.G.Sanjai, Junior Engineer saved the day by offering the use of his iron sheets and by November the 9th intense construction began.Lucan and Dave shouldered most of the gruelling work helped by a few local and foreign volunteers.10 Days later,through sun and monsoon rain,we thought we were prepared for what was to come.
We decided to target the epicenter of the dog problem,the market area and so during construction we befriended the huge pack of dogs with endless biscuits and treats.Our master plan...to gain their trust and close the door behind them.
We sent word to Dr Bhardan and he mobilized his own team. We were joined by the amazing team of the influential NGO, Friendicos Seca and Wildlife SOS.It was thanks to them that we had the privilege of working with Dr Geetah Gladson and Dr R.Saravanan.Friendicos Seca donated high quality annisthetic medicine and dissolvable stitching.On November 22 with their arrival the project began in earnest.
One day before,our walk in went very well and we closed the iron doors on about 30 dogs.Many were the main breeding females of the market area.And now as the doctors settled in getting ready for business I decided to quickly give a dog named honey her daily treatment for mange.Then it happened I heard the dreaded frantic shout....ESCAPE!!!
As we all ran at top speed to the compound memories of last years escapes and frustration pounded in our heads.We had really thought this time we were escape proof.But as we went round the back,to inspect the hole we saw evidence of fowl play.Small naughty fingers had unraveled the wire from the outside and all our dogs were gone!
But one thing we did learn..never underestimate the hunger of an Indian street dog.None of them had run very far,in fact,they were waiting patiently outside for food.In fact all but two, walked right back in again,of course helped by offerings of mountains of biscuits and treats.Lucan spent the whole day reinforcing the walls and the project moved on full swing once again.Thank-you for the the help of a few dedicated volunteers from all parts of the world.
We turned into walking stress balls.The next 3 days were jam packed with the endless jobs of catching,injecting,carrying,soothing,holding and treating dogs and more dogs.One drugged up male bite me,Lucan and Dicky in a matter of a few minutes.I apparently didn't learn that lesson well as,drugged up dogs really do not know what they are doing and while carrying a female whom I trusted,I got bitten AGAIN and quite badly,on the very same spot as last year.We did laugh a lot about it..because what else can you do?
On the second day,to our delight we found many owners waiting outside the vets,along with their dogs.This was a great help,we even got to have breakfast that day. One dog even arrived with the red colour of a blessing on his forehead and that was very touching.
Our biggest concern was running out of dogs for our tireless team of vets but we should not have worried.On the last day, a pile of dogs arrived in sacks and ropes(we untied them as fast as we could as soon as they were in the compound)The locals had got together in the Bengali village and brought us their dogs.It made us very happy to see the local community becoming involved and taking part of the program like this.Every project we see an improvement in the local attitude and a small difference in the way they treat the dogs,at least when we are around!
And finally the last dog,the last day.As we stood together for our celebratory photograph everyone was very proud of our number 153 dogs sterilized this project.
Thank You to Dr Bhardan,Dr Geetah Gladson,Dr R.SaravananWildlife SOS,Frriendicos Secos and Animal Husbandry,the local people who participated,our dedicated volunteers and every who contributed with their donations.
We took care of the female dogs for another week,cooking their meals in a huge black pot.The ones we released never went very far,they waited patiently for their meal to and we had to laugh about all the escape attempts.It is near impossible now, to walk through the market area, without an eager trail of 25 or more dogs.Some turned friendly very quickly although we tried our hardest not to make them too dependant on us.Indian street dogs never forget a kind deed.
And so...it was finally the end of another successful project!
153 dogs sterilized this project
Dog Project 2007
STERILIZATION PROJECT DECEMBER 21-25 2007
Our Dog Sterilization project was successful...each little face and each pair of imploring eyes is etched into my memory .The very best part for me is walking through the island market and to be greeted by some of our dogs,to be trusted and remembered by every one of them. These pups have crawled into our hearts paw by paw.To step into the recovery room and hear the thump,thump... tails of dogs who have never wagged their tails at humans before. To be surrounded by little souls who have just discovered the love of a human.So goes the story of the life of an Indian street dog.
21st December 2007
We were overwhelmed by enthusiastic dog catchers and not wanting to dampen the excited atmosphere, went ahead with catching before the enclosures were safely secure (very bad idea)So began a wild ride of emotions and tensions and within one hour I collected my very first dog bite,from a female being dragged down the road on a piece of wire!
Well I put an Instant and emotional stop to the use of wire for catching and got it off the little female before she escaped-along with a small piece of my arm. Our first lesson of the day was to ensure better equipment (muzzles,nooses,gloves) Nevertheless...we couldn't get these,so armed only with ropes volunteers from India, Australia, France, England, SouthAfrica, Israel and of course our local friends from the island caught 18 dogs that day.
By 10:30pm 17 dogs had escaped! All except for the smallest had dug a hole out to freedom. We named this little female Shanti,she was our calmest patient and she still hasn't left the compound even with the gates wide open.
By 6:30am we were out catching,aware that our vet was about to arrive by ferry. Dickie our local friend volunteered to ride up and down the island on his new motorbike and as soon as a dog was caught,he would arrive with a big plastic bin,put the dog inside and take it to a new compound....a derelict building opposite the fish market. We found this method with the bin less traumatic for the dogs.Dave and other volunteers made the building stronger and inescapable,with sheets of iron and in 2hours we had caught 11 dogs. As the ferry sailed in with our vet Dr. Bardhan and his team,we were calm and ready to begin. We had a late start and so did our vet...preparing his operating room but from then on the day went smoothly and 6 females lay in our recovery room that evening.
Another early start,we were still concentrating on females, our volunteers took it in shifts to sit with those in the recovery room and each of them was cared for. A lovely local Indian lady arrived wanting to take our very first patient, a dog named Rahni home. It was just so heart warming to see her carefully tie a cotton scarf around her gentle dog's scar and walk off happily with a smiling Rahni at her heels. These are the moments that make it all worthwhile.The problems just seem to disappear and instead one remembers the warmness and peace that comes from doing good things.
That evening was quite difficult,we had 15 to 20 females in two stages of recovery and once again volunteers took it in turns to sit with the dogs.We all sat up until late that night and quietly left to catch a few hours of sleep,leaving Nickle our employed 'dog watcher' fast asleep on the floor amidst sleeping dogs.
In the morning we decided along with Dr Bardhan to catch some males so that we could get our numbers up. So the females we still had, began their operations while we organized more males.By now we had a great system, volunteers would prepare and shave a dog outside the operating room and this ensured a steady flow. Owners of males began to arrive and this we found worked really well. They would help us to prepare the dogs,get his injection and with the owner close the dogs were much calmer.We kept the operated males in another enclosure attached to the girls recovery room but we had learnt our lesson and Dave volunteered to make it 'escape proof' ,not an easy task.We were surprised and delighted to see how quickly males could be done and how speedily they recovered. So our vet decided to stay an extra day especially for males.
Word had spred around the island, we didn't even send out dog catchers. Calmly and systematically,owners brought in their dogs. The last male brought in was the skinniest little boy you've ever seen. The doctor gave him an injection for worms etc. and we had some serious words about feeding with his so called 'owners'. They have only ever thrown him biscuits..so he didn't know how to eat anything else! We named him Tiger and I remember Hadari telling me how she spent a whole hour convincing him he is beautiful. It must have worked,although still very thin,he has picked up weight and when we are at the market he runs to us confidently for hugs and strokes.
And so that afternoon we finished,we all shook hands and smiled for photographs.We could not have sterilized 50 dogs without the help,donations and support we received from many amazing people . This project could not have been possible without the tremendous skill, hard work and good humour of Dr.A.K.Bardhan,his team and also the help of Dr.M.Alagan. May our next project be even more successful.