Jennifer Lawler

I had the privilege of traveling to Vizag, along with two classmates, to volunteer at one of the leading animal shelters in the region. The animal shelter, located on the city outskirts, offered a reprieve from the chaos of the city.  Founded in 1996 by Pradeep Nath, an inspired visionary who has worked tirelessly on the behalf of animals in the region.  It is home to hundreds of rescued animals, including dogs, cats, cows, water buffalo, parakeets, primates, and star tortoises.  Pradeep’s inspiration came early in life.  As a young boy, he fed biscuits and scraps of food to starving street dogs.  His early acts of kindness are now shelter tradition.  Each morning, on the way to the shelter, we accompanied employees as they delivered biscuits and parcels of turmeric spiced rice to dogs throughout the city.

Prior to 1996, the incidence of rabies was increased and the city used inhumane methods to decrease the dog population. Since then, the shelter’s core program, the Animal Birth Control Unit, has sterilized and vaccinated almost 70,000 dogs and over 200 cats.”

Although the shelter has limited resources and offers only basic medical care, the health and body condition of the animals was much better than anticipated.   I was impressed by the dedicated shelter staff, who are working diligently to change an entire society’s perceptions of animals. I was fortunate to make a small contribution and while there were numerous challenging cultural differences, the goal of everyone involved was singular –the well being of animals.