8 May 2018

Arunachala Animal Sanctuary and Rescue Shelter: 2018 Global Giving Report

I have often written about the Arunachala AnimalSanctuary and Rescue Shelter here at Tiruvannamalai, and about the excellent, life saving and transforming changes they are making to many animals in these parts.

When asked what organisation is most worth supporting at Arunachala . . . I always put the Arunachala Animal Sanctuary at the top of the list.

I remember the days that "animal control" in these parts meant culling dogs by strangling them with garrote wire on the streets and then tossing the carcasses in the back of a bullock cart to be taken off to be burnt in some empty field. I remember the days when mange encrusted dogs lived a life of suffering in the sewers of this town. I can recall that when the wheels of a car or auto rickshaw ran over a dog's legs that it always meant a certain death sentence for the poor creature.

The Arunachala Animal Sanctuary are controlling the numbers of street dogs in the area by offering free sterlisation operations. They participate in taking food out to feed starving homeless dogs living on the streets, bring in infested animals and board them while giving the suffering creatures mange and skin treatments.

The Sanctuary is also responsible for finding forever homes for numerous puppies and previously unwanted dogs. In addition to sterlisations on Dogs; the Shelter also performs many different types of operations on cats, monkeys, cows, horses, goats and a host of other creatures.

The Arunachala Animal Sanctuary desperately needs our financial support and in this respect please visit their page on the Global Giving website at this link here to learn more about how to help this organisation in their efforts to maintain and improve their care and service for our animals friends at Blessed Arunachala.

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Leslie Robinson, Founder and Director of Arunachala Animal Sanctuary

Global Giving Report

“2,879 Emergency Rescues. Help us. Help Them.” The Arunachala Animal Sanctuary and Rescue Shelter at Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, has just posted a Global Giving Report explaining their work and how our financial support makes it all possible.

Project Report by Leslie Robinson—Founder/Director of the Arunachala Animal Sanctuary and Rescue Shelter

Good Morning Dear People,

Yes, it’s morning as I start. Actually, I’m fond of the beautiful Indian greeting, ”Namaste’”—"I bow to your Innermost Self"...So..."Namaste".

In the West we don’t have stray dogs. In India, it is an enormous problem, and they can suffer, deeply.

Early 2006, after forty years of Municipal slaughtering, we managed to stop the brutal killing of the homeless dogs in what was an unsuccessful attempt to cull the population - but with the caveat that we establish an effective population control program.

Things were really bad when we opened January 2007. There were well over 5,000 homeless dogs. Perhaps over 6,000, or 7,000. The population was out of control. Starving. Fighting. Diseased. Injured. There were 350 suffering and dying animals on the streets. Mostly puppies and dogs, but among them were stricken cows, monkeys and others, too. The relationship with the human community was terrible. There was much abuse. There were many aggressive dogs. Many bites. Rabies. There was no small animal vet within 70 km. And no facility for treatment. There was unbounded suffering. It was the worst situation I’d seen and it was awful.

Eleven years now since we opened…and this has all changed. Thru December, 2017 we have done:

Emergency Rescues         5,094
Dogs Sterilized                  6,954
Anti-rabies injections       14,422
Clinic Visits                       44,573
In-Patient Treatments     120,356
Animal Adoptions               1,041

Non Dogs Treated               4,239

(1,169 cows and calves, 1,072 goats and sheep, 635 cats, 200 monkeys, 768 birds, 150 rabbits, 23 squirrels, 30 donkeys, 19 pigs, 27 peacocks, 34 parrots, 3 eagles, 53 horses, 6 bullocks, 18 deer, 6 snakes, 6 turkeys, 2 owls, 12 ducks, 2 mongooses, 3 chameleons, 1 turtle)

Today it is different. The homeless dog population is decreasing for the first time in forty years, AND it is rabies-free. There are 10,000 fewer puppies born each year, almost all of whom would have suffered and died. There is no more widespread abuse, and thus very few aggressive dogs, and only a small fraction of dog bites.

The most important thing that has happened is that the relationship between the homeless dogs and the people amongst whom they live day in, day out has been totally transformed. Without that transformation, the impact of whatever else is done is significantly limited—the animals would be subject to the same indifference, the same absence of protection when they are in harm's way, the same unaided difficulties in their ongoing search for food and water. The same absence of affection.

One can experience the change when walking on the streets. Each year, street conditions get better and better, and Tiruvannamalai is amongst the very few municipalities of size where this has happened. In the poignant words of a longtime Tiruvannamalai resident named Dev, made at the fourth anniversary puja . . .

"Public memory is short. Few can recall the rampant stray dogs everywhere, young and aged, starving and diseased, scavenging in the garbage heaps, fighting amongst themselves, ignored and abused by the human population, while remaining a menace to all including themselves. In four short years, the roads are more peaceful, with few strays to be seen, and the naturally loving relationship between humans and animals restored to its true state."

We are doing 40 to 100 Sterilizations
Giving 70 to 125 anti-rabies injections.
Going out on 60 to 120 emergency rescues.(Almost all of whom are “homeless dogs”, but others, too.)
The clinic is busy. We are getting 550 to 700 out-patient visits, most of whom are “owner dogs”.
Giving 1,200 to 1,600 treatments to in-patients, almost all of whom are “homeless dogs”.
Placing 6 to 15 puppies in good homes.
Treating 30 to 75 animals other than dogs.

Things are going excellently. The expanded space for the Verandah dogs is fully open. It has two to three times more room. The Precious Ones love it. They're running around chasing, wrestling, and playing games. They're finding new places to rest, and to snuggle, and to bask in the sun. They're hiding under the stone benches, cuddling in the baskets and, one of their favorites ... sitting in chairs. We purchased a dozen more chairs for them, that we occasionally use, too!

The new clinic is very, very busy and we need a third doctor. Fortunately, and this is a real blessing, there’s a young woman who was with us for six months, two years ago, who left to do her postgraduate work in Surgery at Madras Veterinary College. She’s finishing in June and is going to rejoin us. Her name is Dr. Heera. She’s a solid clinician, and her energy is like the rising sun. In the meantime, a young vet who recently finished her post graduate work and wants to teach at College needed temporary work, and she is going to be with us until June.

I want now, to take a little time to tell you about the love in which our beloved Shelter is immersed. We are all connected through the Heart. Whenever I show up I'm simply swallowed in the mutual gladness of seeing everyone .. and, blessing of blessings, our Precious Ones bask in that energy.

First and foremost, there are Dr. Raja and Vishwa. They're such incredible Beings, that I deeply feel they were yogis with significant attainment in a prior life. And yes, Elaine, our beloved veterinary nurse, is back! We're not the only ones who are happy. The Voiceless Ones, too.

She told me a nice story about two young women from Europe who volunteered for three weeks. They were a little anxious about being so close to "all the pain" when they first started ... but cried when they left ... because the Precious Ones were so happy.

The shakti inside the Shelter is simply uplifting. People visiting us, now with the expanded space, are deeply moved. Some, who are animal-lovers, get teary because they didn’t know a facility like ours existed. Wish you could come visit and experience it.

On a lighter note…Here are some Shelter Heart Stories and vignettes.

Ranjeet Maharaj
He was an awkward, gangly "teenager" in the dog world. He had yet to grow into his long legs, large paws, and oversized ears. He limped into Shivani's house with open mange sores, fleas, and smelling. He had been heavily abused on the street and, no one wanted him.

He must have sensed a kind stranger in Shivani, for he immediately laid down on one of her cushions and slept and slept.

Shivani brought him to us, where Dr. Raja treated him with medication and the Staff gave him a special bath for his skin condition. After four days, Shivani picked him up and got his medication. It seems he had found a home. He has adopted Shivani! He is now called Ranjeet Maharaj.

We got her when she was a little over a year. She'd been an "owner" dog, but was simply abandoned when they left. Vishwa got reports of her for several weeks, and finally caught her. She was scared and confused. The family probably had children whom she loved. They just dumped her and left. She lost everything that was dear to her. Without any understanding, it was just GONE.

The beauty of it is how quickly she bounced back. She was absolutely joyful, and bounded around wrestling and chasing. She adored supervisor Raja! I named her Beauty. But someone else named her Swetha, which is what stuck.

She was a joy to watch. She played so hard, that she would sometimes drink enough for a camel to make a desert crossing.

Vishwa found a good home for her locally. The two boys in the family, four and eight, were over the top at the prospect of getting her. They came to the Shelter several times (the father and the boys), it was a match made in Heaven.

I was on my Honda Activa. A guy passed me on a TVS scooter, which had a goat, legs tied, straddled across the floor board. She must have really been suffering.

I pulled him over, handing him one of my official looking Shelter visiting cards, but fiercely said I was with the Animal Welfare Board of India (he only spoke Tamil). I called Vishwa and told him to threaten the guy over the phone and say he had a choice: either sell the goat to me on the spot … or, I was bringing in the police, who would impound her because of his mistreatment. He gladly sold her to me for 3500 rupees (USD 55), which was a little more than he would have gotten through slaughter.

He lifted her from his TVS and laid her on the ground. She was very, very weak. I gently stroked her, and said, “Everything is going to be okay now. We’re very good people and we’re going to take care of you, and you’ll have a full life.” The goat was beautiful, a golden color, with long ears that just hung.

I had the man untie her legs. She had a big wound on one of her hoofs. Vishwa showed up. He talked to the man, who said he had already hired someone to slaughter her who would have been there in ten minutes. Vishwa took her to the Shelter. Dr. Raja said the hoof wound was not serious, but it was slightly infected and would take time to heal. He cleaned and dressed it. Gave her pain killer and antibiotic injections. She was very weak, and she was given an I.V. for some nutrition. Dr. Raja said she had less than a fifty-fifty chance of living.

Vishwa took her home with him. He gave her grass, oil cakes with water, and several other things. She ate voraciously. He lives outside of town and there are nice, grassy patches out there. He carried her to one (she was too weak to walk), and she foraged for six straight hours. He slept outside with her. (In the back he has a long open shed for cows that is empty). The next day he took her to one of the fields and she ate all day long. On the third day, she started standing and then walking and running a little . . . 

Vishwa named her Amu. We were sure that she was going to live. But, sadly, there was too much damage to her organs, and three weeks later, she quietly died. Those three weeks though, were filled with love, joy, and happiness. We put her on the Red Tara prayer list, and protective, guiding energy was sent to her soul for 49 days.

Vishwa got a call at his house from some villagers 40 kms away. A cow had been bitten by a snake. He told them to bring her to the Shelter and called Dr. Raja to let him know.

They called back fifteen minutes later. The cow had died. She had a baby calf just nine days old. They were going to sell it for slaughter for 4,500 rupees. Vishwa told them he would buy it and shot out there with the car.

Bewildered, scared, hungry, and not knowing what happened to his mom, the calf returned in the car with Vishwa, who took him to his house. (Vishwa lives in the country). For the first several days, just like he did with Amu the goat, Vishwa slept outside with the calf.

When I first saw the calf, it was hard to believe he was only nine days old. He was black and white. Tall. And absolutely the most beautiful calf I’ve ever seen. Vishwa is going to keep him. He's named him Google. Google loves Vishwa and Vishwa loves him. Possibly Google is the most joyful calf I’ve ever seen. He’s free most of the time. While I was there, he went galloping off about 100 meters into the field. Then out of sight. And came charging back. Happy! Happy!

As I’m writing this, Google is now 2½ months old. I haven’t seen him since he was three weeks old. Vishwa tells me he’s big, strong, handsome, and happy.

Baby Owl
Recently, Vishwa called me, late night. Someone had found a baby owl on Pradakshina Road. Alone. In trouble. They tried to find the mother. But the poor thing, about a month old, was really alone.

Owls are very difficult to help. It's a long time before they can fly. Maybe three, possibly four months. They're carnivores, and hunters. And it's the mother that teaches them to hunt. So unless you can teach them to hunt, you can't release them. We've had a few in the last several years.

After many, many calls I found someone in Delhi who was an expert in the rehabilitation of predator birds. But Delhi was too far away. Fortunately, they knew of one other expert who, was in Bangalore, which is only six hours away by car. And blessing of blessings, the Bangalore lady said she would take him.

Vishwa called the Bangalore lady, and she will take him into her sanctuary. Prem Kumar just took the baby owl to her the very day I’m writing this Report.

Mani found Mira lying on the side of the road near the Shelter. The poor dog was only four years old. She was post-distemper. Twitching. Couldn’t open her mouth. Starving. And near death. She was an “owner dog” who had probably been abandoned. Lying there alone. Having lost everything. Not understanding. Miserable. Frightened.

Dr.Raja started giving her I.V’s with neurobion for nutrition, a liver booster to stimulate the liver, plus antibiotics (for the first three days). Vishwa had the Staff give her a lot of loving. On the second day by attaching a thin rubber tube to an I.V. syringe, he was able to start getting a little milk on her tongue in increasing amounts, which she swallowed.

We had her in a large retaining cage that didn’t have a lot of direct sunlight, and with only one other post-distemper dog. Neither of them could walk and they were both almost “mutedly conscious”. On the fourth day we decided both should be moved into the clinic where there was a lot of light and affection from puppies.

Her second day in the clinic, Mira started standing (she had been lying on her side and not moving around). Her twitching decreased in intensity. And Vishwa very gently was massaging her jaws. She was able to open them a little and started drinking a few ounces of milk from a bowl. And he started giving her little bits of food.

Also on the second day, she got her first bath and Vishwa gave her a haircut. She looked a zillion percent better. And it was as though vanity precipitated a change in her personality; she started to move in a totally different manner.

Now, this sweet girl moves around with the others ... is affectionate. But she is so fierce around food and milk if any of the other guys get near her bowl, that we feed her in closet with the door closed!

So good to have you back, dear Mira. Welcome to Life.

This brings us to the end of this Report.



Recurring donations, even quite modest ones, are best for us...

With love, blessings, and wishes for all things good... May we all be blessed with more compassionate understanding,

Leslie Robison: The Ageing Expatriate Warrior

Mural on compound wall of Arunachala Animal Shelter

Vishwa, Manager of Shelter

The Arunachala Animal Sanctuary desperately needs our financial support and in this respect please visit their page on the Global Giving website at this link here to learn more about how to help this organisation in their efforts to maintain and improve their care and service for our animals friends at Blessed Arunachala.

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