February 18th, 2006 - Website redesign, sea turtles, cats and dogs
We have been anxious to let you know of all the myriad activities of our no-kill/open admission sanctuary. Reconstruction with funds pledged for that from the floods goes on and we will have a mostly rebuilt animal shelter shortly--some structures still need to be funded to be replaced. The below is all the good news but the fact is that although we are continuing with so much work to help the animals and promote humane awareness to the area; our funds are depleted with no reserve. We will continue our good care to our 700 animals some how (!) we assure you but we want to continue all the projects we began last year in order to bring large gains for the animals, the environment and humane awareness. We got to know many of you because of our two disasters last year; please don't forget us now.
Of note on our redesigned website (donated by Amphibian Design) are new pages: 1. ABC - animal birth control 2. "about us" and "contact us" with photos that we hope you will enjoy such as our Goshala/cow sanctuary help photo (right).
Early January - present Mrs. Maneka Gandhi is taking up the issue of protecting the dogs in Visakha of which almost all are already operated upon and also the expanded Greater Visakha area where the ABC has to begin immediately with an estimated 25000 dogs added by Government order. She has been a great source of help to us. We spent much time preventing the round up and killing of stray dogs, keeping a 24 hour vigil and filing compliants in court. In this Chinese "year of the dog" many animal groups in different parts of the world are working hard to stop these measures; but we were out nightly actually physically preventing these illegal (in India) activities . The criminals used unlicensed drugs to poison the easy targets -- sleeping dogs or dogs that were friendly to all. VSPCA chased the dog killers who have been illegally hired by the Municipality; in the middle of the night to nab them and hand them over to police.
13 February: Pradeep Nath met with A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the President of India, (photo at left) who was visiting our city and protested against the killing of street dogs (another 30 dogs right before his visit!). The President said that he would look into the matter.
15 February: In court the Chief Justice asked the Municipality's lawyer -- "If the population of human beings increases are you killing them and what authority do you have to kill dogs against the Dog Rules". (Photos, press and full ongoing account available - please ask us and we will email it to you.)
We hope to begin an active cat spay/neuter program (we performed 3635 operations for the dogs last year alone even with the disasters) for the increasing stray and abandoned cats in our city if you will help us with your donations. Because cats are not a rabies or aggression problem in India they are often overlooked and we would like to turn more attention towards them before the situation gets worse. (Photo: one of our free roaming happy sanctuary cats.)
Mid-January to present: Four volunteers arrived from the west to help with the sea turtle project and spend a few months. The sea turtles started coming in and the volunteers were quickly put to work. Jack Lawrence; computer and network consultant/wildlife biology volunteer from Syracuse, New York, USA writes: "As volunteers we are designing a new monkey enclosure and also an aviary large enough so that we can test parrots to see if they're suitable for release. We're gathering information and making fact sheets for the care of endangered star tortoises. The shelter is home to more than 10 of these star tortoises, one of whom just laid eggs! We're patrolling beaches to count dead turtles and turtle nests - which we then obscure to protect the eggs from predation. We find many dead turtles, and suspect that they are fishing mortalities. It seems that the local fishing fleet doesn't use the TED (turtle excluder device), though the law requires it. We have met with local fisherman for sea turtle awareness education. We're also organizing beach cleanups with school children; preparing presentations on the VSPCA and Olive Ridley Sea Turtles for use in meetings (last week we presented to the Rotary Club); hosting officials at the shelter; and initiating a humane awareness campaign as part of the President of India's upcoming visit to Visakhapatnam." (Photo: Olive Ridley returning to the Bay of Bengal.)
VSPCA has continued this unfunded sea turtle project for the past 10 years. There is no one else monitoring and protecting the Olive Ridley on this important stretch of the Andhra Pradesh coast of the Bay of Bengal. Photo left: volunteer Jolene J. Csakany, Wildlife Biologist of Scituate, MA USA examining and documenting a dead Olive Ridley sea turtle on the beach and she adds:
"VSPCA is a great organization with a large scope of interconnected goals to attain sustainability and teach others how to live compatibly with animals and nature. It's wonderful that they are not just offering homes to unwanted animals, but showing people how they can live in harmony with animals by teaching the use of cow dung in making biogas and fertilizer, controlling the dog and cat population with sterilization and showing Indian people they can be good pets not as often thought of vermin, as well as working to have endangered species like the sea turtle and their habitat protected. Also, teaching people not to propagate cruelty by showing the dark side of what happens to baby monkeys and parrots kept illegally and cruelly for the tourist trade. And to teach local fisherpeople to feel linked to the turtle. Both share the threats to their livelihoods of beach development and big trawlers killing everything. Helping people feel connected to wildlife and the environment is the first step that VSPCA does in making them care and empowering them to make a difference."
There are so many challenges and difficulties adjusting to a new culture and helping an animal shelter which is struggling with so many tasks and rescuing so many animals! Dedicated volunteer Asha Pillar of Ottawa, Canada writes: " I've been dreaming of doing work like this since I was a little girl and so this is the realization of my dreams and passion for sea turtles." Along with volunteer Alice Reynaud, Registered Nurse from Germany, Asha is working hard on all of the above activities as well. (Photo: freshly laid sea turtle eggs on the Visakha beach.)
Eileen Weintraub and Mark D. Johnson came to visit and brought vitally needed donated vet supplies from Dr. Bosmat Gal of Animal Rescue League of Boston; and donated wildlife rescue supplies from Sharon St. Joan of Best Friends; and The Squirrel Store. Highlights included a trip with Victor our Dr. Paw dog and Swathi and Mallika Buddhiraju to the school for the deaf/dumb and differently-abled children (for further info please see our Dr. Paw page). (Photo: One dear boy grateful for our Dr. Paw visit.)
"I am pleased to report that my third visit to VSPCA in the past three years has proved to be the most inspirational of all. Even with a year of disasters the relentless work of Pradeep Nath's vision for the best place for animals in India continues to strongly take shape. And this has spread to the surrounding areas as well; without the VSPCA the forces of environmental destruction and backward views of animal welfare would be winning." - Eileen Weintraub, Seattle, Washington, USA
Photo: Gandhi quote and doggies resting on top outside the VSPCA main gate.