September 2008: Good news and not-so-good news from India
Hoping you can find the time to read our packed newsletter. Please send us your feedback, comments and ideas!
Students and VSPCA: A Match Made in Heaven
Students East and West was the unoffical theme of our India Independence Day celebration on August 15th. Not only were 150 five to fourteen-year-old Visakha schoolchildren our guests of honour at a special presentation on kindness to animals, so were VSPCA's three volunteer veterinary students from the University of California at Davis. During the event, we lectured on taking proper care of animals, sang animal-related and patriotic songs, showed humane education films about VSPCA and handed out prizes for academic achievements.
Raising the flag of India. In attendance: VSPCA office staff (Pradeep Nath, Raju Lalam, Prasad Rao); our vet student volunteers (Louise Graham, Katy Siquig, Jennifer Lawler); and our intrepid office dogs, Roo and Chameli.
Katy Siquig awards a third grader with a prize on India Independence Day.
It's a privilege to work with these caring young American students who also kindly brought us vitally needed vet supply donations. Louise Graham writes about her experience volunteering for VSPCA:
"The VSPCA has worked wonders with limited resources, and the cats have two large beautiful enclosures. The cats themselves were healthy, alert and had beautiful glossy fur. During my stay in India, I was able to travel a little and appreciate what a great job the VSPCA program is doing. The health of the street dogs and the attitude of the people towards animals were noticeably better than other cities I visited. In Visakhapatnam, the people seemed less afraid of the dogs knowing that they were vaccinated, and there was less aggression amongst the dogs themselves. There were also far fewer dogs! Overall it was truly an informative and amazing experience, and I was greatly inspired by the dedication and tirelessness of the people who run the shelter."
And Jennifer Lawler writes: "I was impressed by the dedicated shelter staff, who are working diligently to change an entire society's perceptions of animals."
Meanwhile, over in Australia, while third-year University of Melbourne veterinary student Matt Pascall has yet to visit us (he will in January) that hasn't stopped him from volunteering. This August, Matt donated his considerable athletic prowess by participating in a "half Iron Man" challenge in Queensland. Matt swam 1.9 km, biked 90 km and ran a half marathon to raise help our street dog program by raising funds for a year's salary for one of our vets! Read more about Matt's heroic effort here and here.
To all of our outstanding student volunteers, a deep and heartfelt thanks!
VSPCA Founder Pradeep Nath
VSPCA Says No to Meat, Yes to Planet
Recently, India's Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which won the Nobel Peace Prize last year with former US Vice President Al Gore, made his views on meat and climate change known in no uncertain terms. Noting that a 2006 UN report shows that animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the world's transport sector, the 68-year-old economist (and vegetarian) forcefully suggested that one of the most effective ways people can fight climate change is to go vegetarian, starting with one meat-free day per week. That's a message we at VSPCA can get behind 100 percent, as evidenced by this photo of Pradeep Nath literally wearing it.
Heavy rains due to climate change
Although the worst flooding in India in 50 years is in one of India's poorest states, Bihar, there is trouble here as well, as reported by Pradeep:
The conditions are not good for the white cattle at our shelter. Whenever they get wet continuously they need immediate medical attention. Of course, our drainage system is now very good since the improvements, but there is still much more to be done.
To help with the flooded areas we are linking with other groups in Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and now East and West Godavari, Rajahmundry and Kakinada to try and do our best. Already we have rescued several cows from being swept away (although one calf very unfortunately drowned.)
We have set up a special fund for rescuing animals in the surrounding areas as well as channeling them to teams working in Bihar. Please consider donating (when you land on the PayPal page, specify that your donation is for our Natural Disaster Rescue Project). Click here for just one of many news stories that describe one of many describing situations where we go out and do what we can to rescue animals.
"Pet shop" Raid
A grossly negligent and definitely illegal pet merchandiser was recently raided in by our VSPCA staff. We seized over 28 rabbits (big and small) and 85 birds (budgies, cockatoos, finches, pigeons and doves). We will make sure this "shop" does not open again.
Squatters Occupy VSPCA Grazing Land!
Our unfortunate problem is that there are now camps of people squatting right outside VSPCA on the hill even though they have other places to live. We only have only 2.2 acres at the shelter, and we have been using this government-owned land for all of these years as pasture for our cows and horses - now these people are illegally occupying the land! The police have been called, but we do not know what the outcome will be. We hope to move 300 cattle to other land which is quite far from here. We need to raise funds to develop grazing areas for the cattle on the new land and, ideally, to further our goal of making VSPCA self-sufficient by growing food, producing more vermicompost for sale and using cow byproducts like biogas (fuel) and cow urine (used in herbal medicine products).
Fundamentally the problem is too many people (and animals) fighting for diminishing resources. VSPCA is active in protecting what is left of our ecosystem. See the Best Friends blog about our campaign.
Many challenges face our area, see: "Coastal Corridor of Greed in Andhra Pradesh"
Please read our new sponsorship stories.
Donors to the Rescue
We are happy to tell you that since our previous email report in August, we have received a life-saving grant from Ahimsa Foundation which will pay off our current debts. The bad news is our debts keep coming. Please help us to keep helping the animals.
We would also like to thank the following major contributors for their gracious assistance:
GVMC and AWBI (for ABC program) WSPA (sponsorship of attendance for Pradeep Nath at Asia for Animals conference and New Zealand Disaster Relief workshop); The Animal Rescue League of Boston (working visit, continuing expertise by Dr. Bosmat Gal and vet supplies donated by Cyprus charities -- Sirius dog shelter for suture materials and the Malcolm Cat Protection Society for cat collars), the Visakha Gowrakha Samithi (for monthly cattle feed) and Lynette Bevan (one year sponsorship of "Billy" and "Bannu"! ) Sharon St. Joan, Vishaya Anand Kumtekar, Matt Pascall, Olive Walker.
We are also indebted to the following kind contributors: Robert and Sherri Andrews, Monica Amnesty (sponsorship of "Milky"), Swathi Buddhiraju, Patricia Cade, Lucie Farrow, Chris Fletcher, Chi Lam Fung, Radha Kaipa, Ravi Kiran and Belina Kantamneni, Susmitha Subba Raju.
As well as cherishing our monthly subscribers: Syd Baumel, Lynette Bevan, Jean Bird, Judith Embry, Renee Kehr, Melanie Freeberg, Esther Geisser, Rob Holland, Judy Hungerford, Glynis Jennings, Amy Kauffman, Kumar Kakarlapudi, Lek Hanshin, Brian Mann, Sandi Passmore, Momemaneni Radha, Gina Sopwith, Margot M. Stoffels, Venkata Tadimeti, Andrew Wells.
Finally, Animal People News, Maneka Gandhi and Phil Wollen continue to be our guiding lights.
With kind regards from all of us,
Eileen Weintraub (USA)
VSPCA Global Outreach
Founder and President