Visakha SPCA digs out after floods, fights disease outbreaks

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 2005:

VISAKHAPATNAM–Already hit by flooding after a September
19 cyclone, the Visakha SPCA was inundated twice more by further
cyclones before the end of October.
Monsoon rains and occasional cyclones are part of the normal
weather cycle along the Bay of Bengal, but fall 2005 brought the
region triple the usual rainfall.
The impact was felt as far south as Chennai, where the St.
Thomas Mount Animal Birth Control Center was badly damaged by flash
flooding, Blue Cross of India chief executive Chinny Krishna told
ANIMAL PEOPLE, and part of the Blue Cross shelter at Guindy was
briefly awash.
“Fortunately, thanks to our volunteer Shanthi, all animals
in the lower-lying enclosures were moved out to the main building,”
Krishna said.
The Visakha SPCA began clean-up and rebuilding at the same
time as extending emergency aid to surrounding areas, then had to
start over after the destruction of a retaining wall by the first
flood allowed a second and third flood.

Despite the setbacks, Visakha SPCA founder Pradeep Kumar Nath
saw the outreach as a first priority. “Just as after the December
2004 tsunami,” Nath explained, when the Visakha SPCA fielded three
rescue teams funded by ANIMAL PEOPLE almost immediately, “giving
medical attention to the villagers’ domestic animals allows us to
introduce our dog sterilization program, and educate against animal
sacrifice, wildlife trading, and killing dogs.
“Months of hard rain have weakened many animals and death
stalks all around,” Nath continued. “Specifically, foot and mouth
disease. We can control it at the shelter through our intensive
efforts, but it is difficult to get the farmers properly educated in
time for them to save their own animals. And government help is
sporadic or nonexistent.
“Cattle are dying right in front of us,” Nath said. “Unlike
in the west, farmers here will not allow infected cattle to be
killed. We try to save the cattle with antibiotic injections,
vitamins, cleaning and dressing the wounds on their feet, and
asking the farmers to give their animals a warm liquid diet.”
Helping the Visakha SPCA to rebuild, recover, and assist
the villagers were the Animal Help Emergency And Disaster team
recently formed by Rahul Sehgal of Ahmedabad; Darmesh Solanki of
People for Animals in Mumbai; several staff from Animal Aid in
Udaipur; four representatives from the Tsunami Memorial Animal
Welfare Trust in Sri Lanka; and Sherry Grant, Asia field rep for
Humane Society International.
Among their first jobs was safely containing seven cobras who
had washed into the Visakha SPCA premises.
“A handful of local workers are racing against time and
weather to finish shelters for the cows,” Grant e-mailed to ANIMAL
PEOPLE. “I asked Pradeep ‘Why don’t you hire more workers?’ By the
end of the day it was clear that the weather and the work [removing
deep mud and manure] put the laborers off, no matter how much he
paid them. He pays over three times the going rate, but they come,
they leave, and they don’t show up the next day.
“We agreed that the traditional method of women scooping up
one rice bag of muck at a time and carrying it away on their heads
was out. What was needed was heavy equipment. We found a guy with a
“Construction in future has to be done on higher platform,”
said Nath. “The biggest problem is that the government never will
give us good land, and the land we now occupy was the best
available. I thought the stream that flooded us was a bonus, as we
need 5,000 litres per day, and had good water during the severe
drought of just three years ago. We built initially on five feet of
fill, and now another four feet is required. The wall needs to be
stronger, maybe engineered like a bridge.
“We will build a much better shelter for the animals, and
better than that, a paradise for them,” Nath pledged.

CONTACT: Visakha SPCA, 26-15-200 Main Road, Visakhapatnam
530001, India; telephone: 91-891-564759;

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