Animal Birth Control (ABC) for street dogs is mandatory since 2001 and several Municipalities have swung into action. IDA India commenced this soon after inception and has made a sizeable contribution towards reduction of street dog population in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai & New Panvel areas, as also in and around Lonavala. Every year we sterilize approximately 13,000 dogs i.e. around 1150 dog sterilizations per month, which is by no means an easy feat. We continue with this endeavour and also try to conduct more camps at the Elephanta Caves Island, off the Mumbai coast. Our efforts to hold camps in other smaller towns away from Mumbai, have been thwarted due to lack of adequate veterinary support.
Mumbai has a large population of street cats. They perform an important function of controlling rodents in this mega city. These cats face a multitude of problems from injuries to birth related traumas. Some of these can take months to heal.
In 2016 we set up the HDFC Cat ABC Ward to accelerate the number of cat sterilizations performed. Earlier we managed around 700 cat surgeries per year, but now we are able to sterilize 1200 cats i.e. 100 per month.
Basic cost of sterilizing a cat, whether male or female, is approximately Rs. 1600/- per cat i.e. Rs. 1,60,000/- per month for 100 cats, i.e. Rs. 19 lakhs per year.
Resident Treatments At Centers
Urbanization and increasing human population exposes street living animals to injuries of various kinds; get run over by heavy traffic, due to territorial fights, accidents on construction sites, factories etc. or over a mate in the mating season. These wounds get infested by maggots, and if untreated, their condition worsens. At any given time a major chunk of our admitted cases (almost 200) are dogs with maggot wounds most of them coming to us in serious condition. Such animals are admitted at the centres until full recovery, some staying on for months together. Besides injuries, dogs also suffer due to illnesses like ear infection, skin infection, gastro, hepatitis, malnourishment, stomatitis, fevers, pneumonia, swelling in limbs, etc.
Another major part of our work is performing life saving surgeries like hernia, hematoma of the ear, amputation of a limb, removal of venereal growth, tumour, cancer of the penis, extraction of damaged eye, digit or tooth; prolapse of organs like uterus, rectum, urinary bladder; wound suturing and so on. We perform approximately 1750 such surgeries per year, i.e. nearly 145 surgeries every month. These surgeries require tremendous post operative care, for which we have created post operative care teams.
Since space at the centres is always under pressure due to large number of long term admitted cases, we decided to start Mobile Clinics to treat cases with minor ailments on the road itself, with follow up in subsequent days as per the needs of each case. Often these dogs have guardians who care for them and they help with the follow up. This has greatly helped to reduce crowding at centres and pressure on the centre. Our vans are manned by para-vets and helpers and move in the eastern suburb of Mumbai and entire city of Navi Mumbai. If they find that a case referred to them needs hospitalization, then cases are brought to the centre.
Outpatient Department (OPD)
The OPD is a place where the poorer citizens can bring their pets or the street living animals they care for, to the centre for veterinary treatment at a very nominal cost. These animals are also brought in for their annual vaccinations. Our OPD is a boon to all types of animals, be it dogs, cats, goats, rabbits, donkeys, cocks and even mice and helps reduce their suffering, as otherwise they remain untreated by their not-too-well-off guardians due to high cost of veterinary treatment and care. Approximately 15 to 20 cases are treated per day between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
One of the most painful of our jobs in animal welfare is the rescue of abandoned pets. The trauma these animals go through cannot be described enough; no amount of care and assurance we may give to them can compensate for the agony they go through on losing their family. We are saddened by their physical and emotional pain and it moves us when we observe these lovely animals looking hopefully to the gate door each time it opens as if they have been praying for their loved families to appear. Re-homing is the only option for them, but a very difficult task especially for the senior animals and those with health issues. They continue to stay with us.
Fostering and Adoption
The most taxing work by far is trying to care for our special need animals. Along with the abandoned pets, the smallest ones form an important part of this group, mainly because they are just starting out in life and need a helping hand and a fighting start. As a stepping stone to adoption which is the final solution for these animals, fostering is a necessary requirement. This helps the animal to be in a family environment, learn social skills and stay healthy. This prepares them for successful adoptions. However, fostering requires a lot of time, energy and commitment and therefore this intervention comes at a cost. All foster care is paid for and is dependent entirely on donations.