Update on the Tsunami relief work
With the help of Mr. G. Dhanapalan, Secretary of the Nagaipattinam SPCA, the fodder and grass distribution to the cattle in the relief camps and elsewhere was carried on as required till the end of February. If found necessary, fodder and grass will be arranged for whenever required. The Animal Husbandry Department has been providing this free of cost – it costs us about Rs.1,700 for the labour to form the hay and grass into bundles and for the tractor/lorry hire charges for a day.
The dogs picked up following the tsunami have been retained in our shelters. They are not kept in kennels, but run around freely in open. We are over-crowded, but this is inevitable. Three of the animals which had litters in the month of January are doing well – the first batch of pups have been rehomed when they were six to seven weeks old.
An additional cattery to hold about 30 kittens and a few adults is almost complete at our Guindy center. A few improvements at the center are also being made to facilitate cleaning and we are planning to put up a waste water treatment plant so that much of the water can be re-used for the kennel cleaning. At present, we are purchasing water in tankers to make up for the shortfall since we do not get enough supply from our wells.
WSPA have committed funds for a two-year project for a mobile clinic service in and around Nagaipattinam. An Animal Birth Control – Anti Rabies programme (ABC-AR) is being planned with this and we hope to inaugurate this by April 15 – Tamil New Years Day. We are hoping to set up a similar programme at Cuddalore.
Dr. Vishnu Sneller of the Centre for Disease Control in the US has also promised help by way of volunteers etc for Nagapattinam’s ABC programme.
Olive Ridley turtle rescued and rehabilitated
On Friday February 25, we received a call from the Police Control Room that a “large tortoise” was in the area of the Marina swimming pool on the beach. Our ambulance rushed to the spot and picked up an olive ridley with some head injuries. After treatment at our Guindy center, this was taken by us to the Forest Department’s Zoo at Vandalur. The Zoo checked its injuries and, after treatment, asked us to release it back in the sea since they could not keep it.
On Saturday, along with a person from the Forest Department, the olive ridley was taken to the sea at Marina. Accompanied by the Police, the turtle was taken in a catamaran and gently released in the sea a few hundred feet from the shore.
On Sunday Feb 27, we received a call from the Forest Department asking for our ambulance to rescue a turtle which was sigted near the light house at Santhome. We picked up the animal and found it was the same olive ridley.
We brought her back to our shelter at Guindy and Dr. Priya Govind rushed over. She felt that the turtle was not in any danger but asked us to keep her in a large tank for observation. The tank was filled with sea water and Ms. Ridley stayed with us till Tuesday. Mr. Romulus Whitaker – the snake man – visited her and felt we should release her back as soon as possible. After Priya Govind concurred, the turtle was taken in our ambulance. The help of the Coast Guard was requested and they readily agreed to take her into the sea and release her. On Tuesday afternoon, the olive ridley was taken to the Chennai Port in our ambulance, loaded onto a large trolley and taken on board Coast Guard Vessel 069. The vessel was taken about three kilometers into the sea and the turtle released with Dr. Priya Govind watching. After being satisfied that the olive ridley was safe, the vessel returned.
Sri Lanka Dog Programme
Several vets from India who volunteered their services to go to Sri Lanka to help the Sri Lanka People Animal Coalition led by Robert Blumberg visited Sri Lanka for two weeks each in January and February. The funds for this were made available by Animal People and costs were kept to a minimum thabks to the help of Jet Airways who gave us three tickets free of charge and Sahara Airways who gave a 50% concession for tsunami relief volunteers.
Sherry Grant of HIS was in charge of the operations at Arugum Bay and at the relief camps far south of Colombo. With the help of dog catchers from Yudisthra Street Dog Foundation, Bali and vets and vet nurses from India, Thailand, Bali, the USA and other countries, hundreds of dogs have been sterilized and over 12,000 dogs have been vaccinated against rabies in less than two months. Unfounded fears of a rabies outbreak following the tsunami led to moves to slaughter these dogs and it was only the timely efforts of the Coalition and HIS and other groups that stopped it by undertaking this massive exercise.
The vets from India benefited greatly from this, too. Since same-day spay and release was being done, the vets were able to see for themselves that this could indeed be done provided necessary care was taken to maintain aseptic conditions during the operations and care taken to suture the incisions properly.
Vets from the Blue Cross, Vishaka SPCA, CUPA and Animal Aid Unlimited participated.