Visakha SPCA India, Inc. Visakha Society for Protection and Care of Animals
President's Letter

Dear ardent lover of animals and well-wisher of VSPCA

As we shared in our Annual Report of 2020, last year has gone down in history infamously, as humanity was disrupted with the spread of the highly infectious Corona Virus (COVID-19) across every nation on earth. Twelve months into the Coronavirus pandemic, our ability to handle this virus has been tested through disastrous consequences for the human population, world over. With several new mutants on the scene, we expect this to be riskier to human in cities. And, the death count hasn't abated. With available vaccinations and hopefully, India taking the lead in vaccinating all its people, we should feel a control on our public's health and welfare.  

At VSPCA, we have used various strategies in our playbook, as well as experimented with new programs to deal with the Pandemic in all its adversity ( human, financial and socio-economic), amid other natural disasters such as the Styrene Gas Leak, Floods and Drought that continue unabated, and the Coastal storms that have lashed upon our city bringing in atmospheric depression in the latter half of 2020. Above all, our small but formidable team members have explored every bit of their capacity to stretch and help suffering animals and people who depend on them or are deeply attached to them. We know our duty is to preserve the biodiversity of our city as it is the most cost-effective, scientific solution in addressing the problems of climate change.

We share with you:

  • The dates and events of 2020 that have taken a heavy toll on animals and people alike.
  • How VSPCA has dealt with deaths to maintain the dignity of life, and how we have worked to reduce the number of deaths (if VSPCA had not intervened).
  • How we worked effectively and safely through the Styrene Gas Disaster -- the most difficult period of the pandemic. Here we dealt with not only containment zones of the pandemic but crossed into overlapping containment zones demarcated by the impact of Styrene gas. Besides our regular Animal SOS, Animal Birth Control, we had to take on responsibility for many hundreds of abandoned animals from the Styrene gas disaster.
  • Following the Styrene gas disaster, how we managed the health and safety of animals and people in the monsoons, floods and the drought that follows flooding. 
  • In the fall, we expanded our programs under VSPCA's resolve, to deal with all of the above, and support the community through coastal storms, which wreaked havoc upon the city.

Now, there are mutant strains of the Coronavirus. If we don't take care of animals in the city (and migratory animals) to continue doing what we have always done, we will be headed into more disasters.

Above and beyond this, everyone has suffered losses in income/funding. VSPCA isn't spared either. But, we know our work is crucial for the health of the city.

VSPCA teams are determined not to let anything more affect the already-stressed out people and animals. We have prepared ourselves in various ways, having learnt many lessons from 2020 to look forward to a brighter 2021.

We have the knowledge as we have stood strong and implemented scientific solutions during the pandemic. We have learnt lessons that can arise only by working through adversity. We have the teams on the ground engaged closely with volunteer networks communicating and handling problems on the spot. We have embarked on our Mobile Ambulance SOS program that takes teams of animal handlers, vets, para vets and animal behaviourists out in the city to animals in distress when people cannot bring them to VSPCA's Main Shelter or Kindness Farm.

Know more about Mobile Ambulance SOS Program
Know more about Mobile Ambulance SOS Program
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We have widened our networking to engage with farmers in Andhra Pradesh to grow more native crops; do more carbon sequestrations with bio-char using animal waste; work with our rescued cattle; with cities across the world like Curridabat (in Costa Rica) to collaborate on solutions; with the global Biophilic Cities Network that is bringing Visakhapatnam and our handling of issues to the world community; we have begun construction of the 'Dog Park' in Kindness farm; also, in Kindness farm a 13-acre Rain Water Harvesting project is underway with limited funds from donors - to ensure the region of Kuruvada has water throughout the year.

To counter new wave of mutations, to deal with the unanticipated number of animals that have come to us from the pandemic, to work effectively with the fisher communities, indigenous people, tribals, farmers, the government and NGOs - with whom we are collaborating to eradicate zoonotic diseases spread, we ask for your continued support and trust. 

We seek to leave a legacy for the city of Visakhapatnam making a notable animal friendly, biophilic, and dedicatedly bio-diverse city in the world. 

With Kind & Warm Regards

Pradeep Kumar Nath & Priya Tallam

President of VSPCA-India & VSPCA USA, respectively,

March 2021

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Corona Virus does not deter VSPCA from rendering help to the most critical of distressed animals

As you will have read above, we are over a year into the Coronavirus pandemic, seeing new mutants of the virus.

The curfews, containment zones and other types of severe restrictions haven't prevented our dedicated teams from reaching the incident spot, to treat and rescue a myriad of animals in our city.

VSPCA has always explored legitimate ways to reach the affected area and serve the community despite the high possibility of infection of this deadly virus to the team.

We have covered the following during this period of greatest adversity akin to the Spanish Flu of the 1920s:

  1. Animal Birth Control - Street Dogs: 4200
  2. Animal Birth Control - Street Cats: 134
  3. S.O.S Rescues (cattle, dogs, cats, kittens, birds): 607
  4. Feeding of street dogs including special zones where no food was available on streets due to lockdown: 19,185
  5. Mobile Ambulance services: 05 camps
  6. Sea Turtle Protection: 
    1. 811 nests
    2. 74,932 eggs
    3. 64,030 hatchlings
  7. Carrying out rescue operations during three cyclones - affected animals: 3,300

These are major projects and programs carried out during the lockdown and restriction that go beyond the normal, committed-to projects and office work.

In the process, 12 of our invaluable staff/workers were affected by Coronavirus and one invaluable staff member, Mr Narayana Rao, passed away. He had worked with VSPCA for over 40 years. 

Rest In Peace Forever Mr Narayana Rao
Rest In Peace Forever Mr Narayana Rao
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Fifty per cent (50%) of our staff were unable to attend to duties due to restriction, social obligations, fear, anxiety, and migration to native villages. The position has not improved to where we can be assured of 100% staff effectiveness.

Costs have risen triple-fold! Donations have dried up and workforces have halved!

VSPCA won't let its zeal/enthusiasm die down, and the team's concern and commitment have both doubled, in dedication to the cause, along with more innovative planning methods and efficacious management. This is unsustainable in the long term, but in the interim, this resolve is internalized by our whole team.

We provide below, our most challenging efforts during this difficult pandemic in chronological order with photos for your kind information.

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Styrene Gas Leak Tragedy

Date: 08-05-20

(1) Styrene Gas ruins Visakha!

The blast that should never happen happened amidst the Coronavirus pandemic and caused several issues during the lockdown. Ten years ago, a blast at the HPCL refinery caused many hundreds of animals and a few people's deaths. Today, we watch the LG polymers corporations amidst bustling localities just 300 meters away from the factory. We are appealing to people to protest these kinds of zoning issues while we take care of animals in the Styrene Gas Tragedy.

On May 07, 2021 -- at 03:00 AM, a computer glitch in the Styrene Gas Factory's cooling system allowed temperatures in the storage tanks to exceed safe levels, causing the styrene to vaporize. People started to fall like play cards and birds fell from trees. Animals and people were choking and many collapsed not being able to handle the fumes. You would have seen the gruesome scenes in the media. Throughout the day, hospitals were flooded and entire areas in a radius of 3-7 km were evacuated, making the neighbourhoods look like ghost towns.

But the animals...? They were simply stranded or abandoned or tied up and left to die. The large animals, mostly buffaloes and their babies who were tied up, died due to excess exposure. Twenty-nine (29) of them died on the spot. Six (6) dogs died and all of them were "pedigreed-owner dogs" having come from pedigreed breeders of these animals. Other abandoned dogs were exposed to the gas that drifted in through open windows. Some of them were given water treatment for recovery. Only two (2) street Indian dogs were affected badly, while the rest on the roads with a preliminary count of sixty-four (64) were seen running madly to survive the ordeal. Some pet birds died in their owner's houses too.

We immediately rescued the vulnerable ones - Four (4) puppies and one (1) cat were in very critical shape. A place to rest, food and medicines were provided to all rescued animals. Cattle treatment was done in collaboration with Animal Husbandary Government Department. By evening, the owners were approached and asked to take their cattle home. VSPCA kept the critical animals under observation and treatment. 

Today, the 8th of May 2021, is the second day. There were two more leaks resulting in a panic situation with more people in a radius of 5 km starting to evacuate. All of them were found on the beach road in their vehicles. Our efforts were compounded with the authorities not allowing us in their neighbourhoods as the total evacuation was recommended and no person was allowed. However, our team obtained special permission to feed, treat and rescue four (4) more dogs trapped in these people's houses. 

This is the Venkatapuram locality with the most affected community animals just 300 meters away from the gas leak factory. We plan to move our teams into nearby areas to do the needful. Preliminary reports show that much problems exist in this place.

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Date: 09-05-20

(2) He has survived but left alone in the Styrene Gas Leak at Visakha, AP, India

Most pedigree dogs who were abandoned and tied up died or collapsed. Large-sized dogs such as labradors and German shepherds faced critical conditions. But here is a tiny pomeranian standing all alone in front of the verandah of his owner's house. The owners fled without him. We wonder why such a small animal could not have been carried with them! In our search for animals abandoned by their owners, we found him patiently waiting. Our youth staff members are trying to make friends with him in the above picture. The little one is under our care. He will be handed to the rightful owner, who will be provided counselling as needed.

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Date: 09-05-20

(3) These tiny love birds seem to make it from the deadly gas leak toxic effect.

Most pet birds were found dead. It was determined that all these dead birds suffered a burst of gas, which then spread and remained as aerosols. The birds were found in clusters and many were scattered. This helped our vets and para vets determine what had happened. The places were the gas fall was high, showed immediate and fatal impacts.

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Date: 10-05-20

(4) Styrene gas case -- our actions to help animals.

As many as twenty-nine (29) cattle needed immediate help, to revive them. With the help of Animal Husbandary, this was carried out over two days continuously. A makeshift over - wetting the buffaloes and keeping them moist, was carried out. The treatment was well received by the animals that had choked on the gas fumes. Dousing each animal with sufficient water, the animals were able to stand up and walk. VSPCA provided further treatment and feed. 

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Date: 10-05-20

(5) Styrene gas blast and leak continued report -- the 4th day!

While the Animal Husbandry Department carried on with their treatment of large animals specifically, we shifted our focus from rescue, treatment and rehabilitation, to feeding of the street animals. A large number of street animals mostly dogs numbering around 60 in the most affected area of Venkatapuram were found abandoned. Here it seemed that there was 100% evacuation that left all community dogs hungry.

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Date: 11-05-20

(6) Left in despair but in command to the house

We bring many sad stories about animals left behind by their owners. Life is so important to the owners and their children, but their faithful pets have no special place in their hearts when tough times are here. Here is one such case. We rescued these scared dogs who had no food for days and brought them to our shelter. We will do our best to help the owners through counselling and return their animals. 

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Date: 15-05-20

(7) Chickens certainly get a fresh lease of life because of the gas leak in Vizag

The Styrene gas leak tragedy affected all kinds of animals and humans, where people fled, abandoning their beloved animals. These chickens rend the air with cries of freedom as the toxic gas could affect the humans if they ate them! This is an irony! - strange are the ways of animals gaining their deserved freedom. These chickens were left behind to fend for themselves as they turned out as unproductive for slaughterers. VSPCA is feeding them every day. With instructions not to eat any chickens within 3 km of the gas leak, these chickens will be shifted to our shelter. 

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Date: 15-05-20

(8) One more abandoned pet dog case - tied up and left by the owners due to the gas leak in Vizag

As we continue to follow up every day on searches across a radius of 3 km and beyond covering over 5 villages, we find new cases of animals fending for themselves. Humans are returning in some of the cases. We restored this dog to the owner on the 4th day after a lot of counselling. People are engulfed by myths; hence a follow up is required to ensure pets are not dumped or abandoned to die.

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Date: 16-05-20

(9) Will the owners look after these buffaloes?

These buffaloes and many such giving animals were in the vicinity of the Styrene gas leak and where the concentrations were high. These are indications that these animals eyes are infected and some damage is done permanently. The eyes of large animals are affected as you can see in this gentle buffalo. The vet inspection and treatment are going on, while we continue to assist and feed all abandoned or tied up animals whose owners have not come to claim them. We do not have clarity of the long-term effects of Styrene gas. No animal expert is clear on this. We continue to do our best and we will be the care takers of these animals. 

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Few before and after pictures of the rescued animals
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26-15-200, Main Road, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India, 530-001
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