“Too many stray dogs and cattle”

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2005:

–The first phase of disaster relief is rescue.
Then comes accommodating refuges, followed by
“Our immediate relief activities have
been now replaced by the medium term to long term
relief work made necessary by the animals we have
rescued,” Blue Cross of India director Chinny
Krishna told ANIMAL PEOPLE, two months after the
December 26, 2004 tsunami.
Eager to start rebuilding, including
developing India’s first formal animal disaster
relief plan, Krishna found himself still in the
middle of refugee accommodation.
“The large number of rescued animals, as
well as those surrendered by people who said they
found them in their neighborhoods, have made
things difficult at our Guindy center,” Krishna
explained. “A rescued pig and her litter of
eight piglets occupy a large area behind our
cattle shed. Rescued dogs occupy every available
step on the staircases, and the recent rains in
Chennai have sent all the dogs normally in the
four-acre outdoor part of the shelter scurrying
indoors to have a roof over their heads!”

On top of that, the tsunami only briefly
interrupted a Chennai municipal drive to rid the
city of free-roaming cattle.
“We are now flooded with more than a hundred cattle,” Krishna said.
The Blue Cross was also continuing to assist the
Nagapattinam SPCA with cattle feeding in the
Nagapattinam relief camps.
Doubling as coordinator of Indian relief
operations for the World Society for the
Protection of Animals, Krishna announced that
“WSPA has sent a further donation of $15,000 for
the relief work in this part of the world,” in
addition to the $15,000 sent at the end of
December 2004, “and also has committed £40,000
[about $75,400] over a 2-year period for a mobile
clinic and staffing and operating expenses.”
Meanwhile, chief Blue Cross veterinarian
T.P. Sekar flew to Sri Lanka on January 28 to
spend a week sterilizing dogs at Arugum Bay to
help prevent a dog massacre which might have
resulted from an unfounded rabies panic.
“The Blue Cross coordinated the visit of
eight vets from India to Sri Lanka to work on
this project,” Krishna added. ANIMAL PEOPLE
funded their transportation. The trip doubled as
a crash course in high-volume sterilization and
same-day release surgical technique, directed by
Eric Davis, DVM, of the Humane Society of the
U.S., and the Bali Street Dog Foundation
surgical team, who were flown to Sri Lanka by
Humane Society International/Asia.
Vowed she wouldn’t return
The Visakha SPCA, at the northern end of
the Indian tsunami disaster area, meanwhile
received a two-week clinic management tutorial
from Animal Rescue League of Boston chief
veterinarian Bosmat Gal, 51.
Dispirited by what she had seen in
December 2004 on a tourist visit, Gal vowed
never to return to India, she told Boston Globe
reporter Jenna Russell, but “When I had the
opportunity to go and do something, it changed
everything,” Gal said. “I couldn’t turn away.”
“With her passport and vaccinations
updated from her earlier trip,” Russell wrote,
“Gal left for India in mid-January, as part of a
relief effort organized by the Association of
Veterinarians for Animal Rights based in
California, toting four suitcases full of drugs
and medical supplies.”
“They’re doing a lot with what they
have,” Gal said of the Visakha SPCA Animal Birth
Control program, which appears to have gone from
start-up to sterilizing more than 80% of the dogs
in the city faster than any other ABC effort in
The Animal Rescue League and AVAR are now
funding gifts of additional equipment to help the
Visakha SPCA maintain the pace and improve the
standards of care as it extends its services out
into the surrounding villages.
While Gal substituted at the Visakha SPCA
shelter, the regular shelter vet and two
government vets traveled with mobile teams to
help animals in outlying coastal communities.
“With modes of transport varying from
four, three and two wheels, and even going on
foot, as the roads are inaccessible in many
areas, we have visited places where there are
hardly ten families,” Visakha SPCA founder
Pradeep Kumar Nath said. “Our efforts included
rescuing dogs and cattle especially. Cattle
feed, tonics, vitamins, and other medicines
were distributed among the villagers.
“Previously we mentioned the hero beach
dogs of India, warning many people to flee
before the tsunami struck,” Nath added. “The
Visakha SPCA tsunami animal relief team is now
reporting that cattle too are surprise heroes and
heroines. Villagers interviewed have told us
that most of the tied cattle were moving
restlessly back and forth, indicating impending
danger and wanting to escape. Some bulls and
buffalos even broke away. Therefore in Iskapalli
village there were no deaths at all, despite
imminent danger from the Buckingham Canal and sea
One Iskapalli village dog was stranded on
the far side of a bridge that was destroyed by
the tsunami.
“Immediate relief measures were provided,
and he eagerly came into our arms for rescue,”
Nath said

Dogs refused to eat bodies

“The situation in Port Blair,” the
capital of the Andaman Islands, “is that quite
simply there are too many stray dogs and cattle,”
Wildlife SOS founder Kartick Satyanarayan
e-mailed on January 25, just after the
January/February edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE went to
press. “Even the dogs at the local shelter are
severely emaciated and in need of urgent feeding.”
Heading the Wildlife SOS/Friendicoes SECA
relief team, whose members had crossed India
diagonally from Agra and Delhi to help,
Satyanarayan reached the Andamans after weeks of
work in Tamil Nadu.
By mid-February, Satyanarayan reported,
“We are feeding 1,080 cattle which belong to 708
families. Initially, we helped the villagers
drive their cattle into the jungles in the higher
lands. But the unowned cattle depend entirely on
“Low-lying areas where paddy fields and
dry paddy straw are grown provided the main
fodder for cattle. Since the tsunami these areas
have been submerged in sea water,” Satyanarayan
“Some places are still under six feet of
water, even after fifty days. As per the
scientific reports, the sea level has risen.
The capacity of Port Blair to feed cattle is
going to be permanently lower. Fearing this,
farmers are selling their milk cows, and we fear
that the buyers are not always those who will
rear them.
“Our team on Little Andaman could not
find more than 20 dogs there on the first day,”
Satyanaryan recalled, “although there were
plenty of pigs. Survivors reported that the
pigs ate decomposing human bodies, but not the
dogs. Dogs continued sitting next to the dead
bodies of their people and never touched a single
body, a constable told one of our team. The
constable himself buried more than 40 bodies,
and the police depended on the positions of the
dogs to locate the bodies. Only after the bodies
were burnt did the dogs leave to hide in the
forests, or go to the relief camps in search of
Satyanarayan organized feeding stations
for the dogs that will be moved gradually to lead
them to high ground.
Veterinarian Geeta Godson, of Port
Blair, “had a maid who lived on Little Andaman,”
Satyanarayan said, “and the waters miraculously
left her hut standing when everything else was
destroyed. Whenever the boat leaves for Little
Andaman we put in flour, milk powder, rice and
dal, and the maid with her son Raju cooks
packets of it for the dogs. At first the dogs
were timid and required much coaxing, but now we
are feeding about 50 dogs daily. They wait for
the boat to dock and then follow Savitri and Raju
to the hut for their meal.
“The most important thing to do now,”
Satyanarayan continued, “is to start an animal
shelter and treatment center on Little Andaman,
as the government may not be restarting one for
months. It is impossible to take even a single
animal to Port Blair, as the boat is over
crowded with fleeing humans and there is only one
boat per day.
“Finding surviving animals is difficult
as we walk or cycle through a narrow path in
thick jungles, with numerous mud- filled
streams. There is absolute silence and damaged
houses, fallen trees, scattered utensils,
broken TV sets, and furniture litter the
ground,” Satyanarayan wrote. “When we do find a
dog, his face tells his story and how much he is
missing his people. Sometimes they follow us for
several kilometers, but then run back to where
we saw them first.”
Satyanaryan flew home on Valentine’s Day, after 45 days in the field.
“He will rest a couple of days and we
will plan carefully all the follow-up work and
consolidate things,” Friendicoes SECA shelter
manager Geeta Seshamani told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “Our
work at Andamans and Nicobar continues. The team
is still there, and we are going to be there for
the long haul. Not only do we have an Animal
Birth Control program to start from scratch, but
the poaching there is appalling. Crocodile meat,
deer meat–everything is openly sold. Boats come
from Thailand and birds are trapped–species
which are all on our highly protected list!–and
they are carried off,” probably to be sold for
release at temples, if they survive capture and
The Thai supply of birds available for
purchase at temples was severely depleted by the
combination of a year-long crackdown on wildlife
trafficking with an unprecedented rush of rites
for the dead.
Thus the custom of releasing birds,
meant to show kindness, brought more suffering
to the stricken region.

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