Priya Tallam’s Trip to VSPCA!
Last year, in November, Priya Tallam, President of VSPCA USA, visited our shelters and office at VSPCA-India. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, obvious everywhere, had adversely affected the city of Visakhapatnam. She noted that the street animals, based on VSPCA’s care, were doing really well.
She and Mr. Pradeep Kumar Nath, the CEO and President of VSPCA, discussed the following urgent matters concerning VSPCA’s future direction.
1. VSPCA will embark on a business venture selling organic items such as carom water, oil for migraines, sandal essence, etc. While utilizing the “Graminum” approach and infrastructure initially, this is a tried and tested way to bring VSPCA profits toward animal welfare, as well as funds for maintaining VSPCA’s shelters. As the demand for these organic products grows, VSPCA will begin to sell fruits, vegetables, and organic items such as mango pulp, animal-dung pyre logs, and more that are manufactured in VSPCA’s Kindness Farm. As of December 2022, VSPCA kicked off the business plan with Graminum’s organic products, in the vicinity of the Poorna and Kurupam Market regions, and is seeing funds come in over the last three months.
2. Ms. Tallam visited Shelter One thriving under the guidance and leadership of Ms. Sarada. She noted that the ABC Programme is running effectively and is very successful under Dr. Rajeshwar. Additionally, she observed how a rescued monkey has taken on the role of being an official tick remover for the cats living at Shelter One – a beautiful example of interspecies co-existence! Ms. Tallam noted that all the animals residing at Shelter One are healthy and happy and there exists a mutual fondness between them and VSPCA’s staff. She is extremely proud of the staff, paravets, vets, and volunteers working at the Shelter. Without their help and dedication, all these rescued animals would be left out on the streets with their lifespans drastically reduced.
3. A highlight of Ms. Tallam’s trip was visiting Tellineelapuram to see the migratory birds coming into the wetlands of Tekkali. Here, she got to meet and interact with the local residents, and spoke at length with the Wildlife Refuge’s bird watcher expert who enthusiastically shared his stories and records of over 50 different species of birds, collected over the two years of the pandemic. The Painted Storks and the Spot-Billed Pelicans were already making their nests as their babies will arrive in January. VSPCA’s hard work with the local residents has made them protectors of these birds instead of poaching them; a 180 degree role-change! This has reversed damage caused by poaching of these birds. As with VSPCA’s Sea Turtle Conservation, VSPCA has created a bird-conservation model empowering local residents. These wetlands contain a bounty of biodiversity, and this a long-term focus of VSPCA.
4. Along with VSPCA’s Office Manager, Hari Varma, Ms. Tallam visited several beaches along the coastline to observe unprotected turtle habitat and the many native bird species living there. Several of these beaches are encroached upon by the Radisson hotel, convention centers, and spa retreats that are harming the flora and fauna of this coastline. Mr. Varma is knowledgeable about the birds of this region and it came as a surprise to Ms. Tallam, that they were able to spot over 20 different bird species just at one beach! Ms. Tallam notes that it is very important to let our well-wishers, donors, and supporters know of the work VSPCA is doing to conserve the city’s natural lands, forests, and wild species as well as the importance of working with the local residents to achieve such goals.
5. Ms. Tallam also mentions that the heavy rains, storms, and cyclones have caused a lot of flooding at the shelters at VSPCA. Unfortunately, due to the flooding, the ground remains saturated, which can be dangerous to the people and animals living there. Mr. Nath has been in continuous talks with the Municipality to fix and create proper drainage around the property so that the water does not rush into the lower lying areas causing more issues in the future.
6. Ms. Tallam also met with VSPCA’s senior leadership team who work with the cattle, understand the issues that cats undergo, and observe how food is prepared for the 16 dog feeding stations across the city. She is extremely grateful for the team at VSPCA who have silently dedicated their lives to the welfare of the animals. Most are long-time staff, who are at VSPCA, not for the salary they receive; but because they are so connected with and dedicated to the animals.
7. On November 14, 2022, Ms. Tallam, Mr. Nath and the rest of the staff at VSPCA, inaugurated the opening of the Dog Park– a joint effort by VSPCA and our partners at NetAp – Network for Animal Protection, in Switzerland. This Dog Park was established based on Mr. Nath’s the vision to help abandoned pedigree dogs, giving them a second chance at life. Despite the fact that there are laws and rules set in place by the Union Minister of Environment and Forests to govern dog breeders, sellers, and buyers, local authorities do little to nothing to enforce these laws and stop breeding. Bred dogs are subjected to live in substandard conditions and face immense cruelty. Often pedigrees are abandoned by their owners when they realize that they have needs and must be taken care of with greater care. Therefore, many such dogs are abandoned and left on the streets to fend for themselves. Since they are bred and brought up in captivity, they are not used to the harsh conditions of living on the streets and unfortunately meet their untimely demise. The pandemic exacerbated this phenomenon where VSPCA was called upon to pick up on average 20 pedigree animals per week!
In conclusion, Ms. Tallam found her visit to VSPCA very insightful. She and Mr. Nath talked through several fundraising plans and laid out the tactics of upcoming projects at VSPCA. Both her and Mr. Nath are grateful for the continued support of our readers and donors.