AWAKE VISIT – VSPCA INDIA, November 2023
Animal Welfare and Knowledge Exchange, AWAKE, a Scandinavian NGO, whose team members visit with VSPCA, Visakha Society for the Protection and Care of Animals, completed their 4th visit with VSPCA. Learning and sharing are mutual, as the scale of the problems is much greater in India. Founded in ~2016, AWAKE’s mission is to spread professional knowledge in animal care promoting and improving animal welfare in emergent nations such as India, Vietnam, and Indonesia.
AWAKE collaborates with existing animal welfare programs. The idea of AWAKE was sown by
Stockholm’s large animal hospital vet and entrepreneur, Rebecca Berg. Travelling throughout
India, Rebecca made a deep connection with Pradeep Kumar Nath, CEO/Founder of VSPCA.
VSPCA cares for thousands of large and small animals, as well as vulnerable people. Younger
recruits from Sweden join AWAKE and learn a great deal in their travels about animal care and
culture, customs, beliefs, and traditions. Apart from supporting communities in Visakhapatnam,
VSPCA and AWAKE deliver lectures and training across the district. For example, Andhra
Pradesh state government with interest in this collaboration, has VSPCA responsible for training
hundreds of state veterinarians in surgery and related care (such as SOPs like ‘asepsis’). The
lectures on the fundamentals of shelter management and animal care also include specific care
for puppies and kittens, Animal Birth Control (ABC), management of injuries, process in
medical systems, animal handling, animal behavior, pre-operative examination, and post-
(SOP – Standard Operating Procedure) AWAKE’s 2023 visit was IT-oriented, sought to bring animal care online, and made ‘progressive’ leaps in terms of medical protocol. Software and Apps were installed in VSPCA computers to effectively streamline animal data input and management. AWAKE would like to see/know what VSPCA is doing daily. This is more than fair and the best for animals. Animal counts and treatments, their current health, their deaths and accompanying reasons, facility, budget, and management issues, etc. all such data are intuitively entered into the software, and consequent reports get compiled online at the click of a button. This tightens the overall program. (IT-Information Technology)
Discussions between AWAKE and VSPCA covered—microchipping of shelter & street animals
to know/understand their identification, health conditions, treatments (like scabies management),
vaccinations, etc.; making clear the separation of time, space, and procedures for SOS vs. ABC
in shelter and sanctuary management; and, notching-up SOPs such as asepsis, usage of
equipment (e.g. one needle per animal)—to keep with the theme of the visit.
Navigating around customs and religions between cultures of the two nations is necessary. An
example would be around the issue of euthanasia.
Also, the scale of the problems in India is a great teacher according to VSPCA. For good
reasons, Western nations may be using one needle per animal; however, VSPCA must perform
25 surgeries a day (vs. maybe 2 or 3 in a European nation), where VSPCA has figured out how
to sterilize one needle (boiling, immersing in solutions, etc.) for multiple use. Environmentally
and economically, and to reduce consumerism, VSPCA has learned to be extra-frugal.
AWAKE has spoken about sponsoring a radiologist and another vet, an X-Ray machine,
ultrasound/doppler machines, and more. They intend to send experts on critical care to VSPCA
every six months, thereby increasing their visitations.
An important matter for AWAKE to internalize is, making visits to India in April – May of each
year. The heat in Visakhapatnam can teach a great deal—how to survive it and help animals
survive; strategies and tactics adopted during the year to survive summer such as regular tree
planting, water harvesting, water conservation, & effective water management; management of
perishable and nonperishable food, etc.; keeping pace with rescues at shanties & illegal outfits in
harsher conditions where animal cruelty spikes up; etc.—to build up every being’s resilience. It
is more than a struggle for VSPCA during summer months especially, keeping animals safe from
heat strokes, disease spread, aggression, self-harm, and inter- and intra-species violence, etc.
There are also other cultural, economic, religious, political, ecological, and social issues that
AWAKE has yet to experience around animals. VSPCA has come a long way in solving bovine
problems in Visakhapatnam and its surroundings.
The Simhachalam calves program is a deep-rooted initiative in the nexus of all realms
mentioned above. Education and awareness for such a program could take the knowledge far
and wide enlightening many about context in problem-solving. This program is not about the
calves alone—but covers the entire cow family—above ground, underground, & laterally,
connecting many more animals & people, caste & class, animal products & soil (e.g. food
security), rural & urban, and, existential issues like biodiversity loss, inequity, & habitat
conservation. One cannot hope to solve problems if the root causes remain unearthed.
VSPCA is very grateful to be in collaboration with AWAKE. No animal issue can be
resolved overnight. The support of NGOs like AWAKE to VSPCA is crucial in making sure
people understand that animals are our relatives on this planet and that humans and Nature must
never be viewed as separate for everyone’s flourishing.
To support VSPCA’s work in protecting many species and their habitats, please go to: