Warning – You may find some of the images in the following post upsetting.
Before coming to India I knew there was an issue with stray dogs, it’s not until you actually get here that you realise just how prevalent this issue really is. There are stray dogs everywhere, from the cities to the countryside, the beaches to the railway stations… everywhere! It’s so sad to see as I’m a big dog lover as most people from the UK are – Dogs become part of your family and the thought of them being mistreated, malnourished etc is a horrible thought.
The Sad Truth
I’ve seen dogs in varying degrees of health in India – some look well fed, healthy and could pass as being a well looked after pet. However others are malnourished, maimed, flea ridden and suffering from skin conditions. It really does break your heart and though sometimes I may give a dog a bit of food, you realise that you can’t help them all.
International Animal Rescue
I heard there were dog sanctuaries dotted all over the place and most of them operate a drop in volunteer service – I mentioned this to my girlfriend (one of the biggest dog lovers ever, seriously it’s ridiculous) and she said she would be up for it too. Fast forward a few months and we’re in Anjuna, Goa. Turns out there was a place called International Animal Rescue just a few kilometres up the road from our hostel that operated a drop in volunteer service so we picked a day and we were game on.
What They Do
International Animal Rescue Goa basically take strays from the streets and bring them to the sanctuary. Once assessed the dogs will be (where necessary): de-ticked, de-flead, operated on for various issues and sterilised to stop the females having little stray puppies. Once they have been through the process they are put back on to the streets washed, watered and fed. Sometimes the strays will be re-homed where possible but this is only a very small percentage. They operate purely on charitable donations and the work they do is just amazing – since they opened they’ve sterilised more than 30,000 dogs, 11,000 cats and vaccinated over 60,000 dogs against rabies, now that is a great achievement.
There are a few things volunteers are able to do to help – it’s mainly dog walking, playing with the puppies for a bit of stimulation and de-ticking the dogs. Having a rabies jab is a prerequisite of being able to help so please bear this in mind if you decide to give this a go – I had my rabies jab before my travels just to be on the safe side, I wasn’t sure what situations I’d be getting myself in to and wanted to have all bases covered, you know, just incase a bat bit my face or something.
We opted to walk the dogs – the workers are swamped with more pressing duties and I learnt that the dogs aren’t walked every day so it seemed the best way we could help was by giving them a bit of exercise and love. We worked for just under 5 hours and walked about 15 dogs between us, you would think it would be a lot more but trying to walk a stray dog on a lead is no easy feat.
Lora spent about 40 minutes with the dog below – He was seemed so keen to come out of his kennel but was beyond scared once outside and barely moved. You do have concern for the wellbeing of the dogs once they’re put back on the street if they seem timid or having some behavioural issues, I felt that with this dog in particular. I sincerely hope that he’ll be adopted by someone.
All in all it was a good experience, albeit a sad one. It’s a nice feeling being able to help even if it is in such a tiny way, but hopefully it seemed a much bigger deal to the dogs we managed to spend time with.
If you’re planning a trip to Anjuna and would like to volunteer for the day then please check out the International Animal Rescue Goa webpage here: www.internationalanimalrescuegoa.org.in – they can always do with the help.
Also, if you’re feeling charitable you can make a donation here: www.internationalanimalrescuegoa.org.in/Online-Donation