A Christmas Response

I received this comment on by blog from IAR relating to this particular post.

I.A.R Goa has sterilized over 30,000 dogs and 10,000 cats. They have rescued hundreds of animals from wells, treated thousands of road accidents and sick animal and have a highly dedicated staff. John Hicks the founder almost died on hunger-strike stopping the ICI smoking beagles experiment and has been at the forefront of animal welfare for over 35 years. Do you really think the animals would be better off if the centre was closed?

A more dedicated team you will never meet and it is outrageous that lies like these should be posted on the internet.

My response is that this is not a lie. If the people at IAR are unhappy with what I've said then the problem does not lie wholly with me, as I will discuss below. I know that 90% of the young animals who come into the centre don't make it out alive. I would also like to point out that I never made any insinuation that the animals would be better off if the centre was closed, I just believe that there are ways to improve things and was proactive in showing you the options. I know from speaking to many people that IAR has greatly improved the stray dog and cat population in Goa, however realising that this is largely due to euthanising animals due to lack of space and homes makes me question if this is really a victory for all.

It clearly states at the rescue centre to NEVER ACCEPT WHAT YOU'RE DOING IS RIGHT and that suggestions on how to improve the care given to animals are always welcome. None of my comments or suggestions were welcome, even changing the 90% kill rate to 89% was of no interest. Every time I tried to help in the efforts of IAR Goa, fundraising and otherwise, I was shot down and made to feel worthless. I don't doubt that the team are dedicated however as no interest was shown in saving more lives of the young who come into the shelter I feel that groupthink has become apparent amongst the staff and long standing volunteers and that positive change will never come about while things remain that way. Innovation is impossible if you keep doing things the way you've always done them, and if you are constantly trying to avoid conflict.

I had been in contact with IAR Goa for 6 months prior to my visit to help. It was hugely important for me to come out but I was given absolutely NO prior information about the volunteering apart from that I needed to get some jabs, which I did. My expectations and emotions were not managed at all, prior to or during my time volunteering for IAR.

As for John Hicks going on hunger strike to save beagles, surely his efforts would have been better directed by vegan education or simply by going vegan himself (if he is not already)? Single issue campaigns, focusing on saving beagles rather than birds or anything else, gives the impression that one is more important than the other. By promoting ahimsa and veganism you take an unambiguous and unwavering stand against animal exploitation, rather than promoting single issue campaigns which are ultimately futile. For more information on the abolition of all animal exploitation please visit http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/ 

I also continue to wonder why the lives of those beagles were so infinitely more important to John than the kittens and puppies who are killed every day by IAR, for the sake of nothing more than population control.

I will write more, detailing fact by fact as to what happened to get to this stage at IAR (sans emotions) but as this is Christmas day I'm going to enjoy myself now.

Christmas cheer to you all!

A Little Update and My India in Pictures!

Things here have improved, mostly because of today. It's like a rollercoaster ride, one day can be like banging your head against a wall and the next is just fine! The director of IAR Goa has said he's interested in speaking to me about my ideas which is probably the biggest breath of fresh air I have had since arriving here - maybe I can have a small helping hand in ultimately making a big difference. I've pissed some people off along the way with my contrasting opinions and proactive attitude but I will not change and I will not feel sorry for what I have felt or what I have written. I'm not here to make friends or be loyal to people I simply don't agree with, I'm here for the animals and that's what I'll continue to be here for.

The funniest thing has been that people who appear to be good understanding people have proved themselves otherwise. Every day here is a leaning experience and although I'm not always happy I wouldn't change a thing.

Moving on, I realised that I hardly ever post pictures here, but I take a lot so here are a few to give you a taste of what's going on. Enjoy!

Sugar Coating the Bitter Pill

Huzzah for neutering.

The balls of the cat who paralysed Tiny Cat were removed yesterday. He seems in good spirits and I think he's particularly happy that he's not on nil by mouth anymore! After a few days he will be released and his days of spraying in people's houses, eating other people's food and paralysing kittens will be over. The trap that IAR provided was very effective and they were at my house within one hour of calling them to let them know he was caught!

As for the kittens I was supposed to be fostering, it's been unecessarily dramatic. After I wrote my previous blog, I found that some long standing volunteers had gone out of their way to save the lives of these kittens, which I am grateful for. The conditions were that we caught the male cat and had him neutered (which is now done. Win.) and that once the kittens were healthy I would give them to a more experienced person who regularly helps to rehome animals.

The fist condition was satisfied and yesterday when I went to collect the kittens they were not there. I asked at the reception desk and was told that since the last time I had seen them they had gotten an infection and were put to sleep. I would really have liked to have been informed either before or after it had happened, as I had spent my weekend emotionally preparing myself only to be told the awful news.

There is a slight happy ending (at least for me) in that now I am free to choose my next move without any responsibilities. Whether I stay here in Goa, continue to volunteer, move on to another state or head home to England early it will be my choice alone and I don't have to worry about the welbeing of another little life.


Right now I just can't bear it here.

My kitten was attacked by an un-neutered male cat who broke into my house. She was paralysed and I had to make the call to put her to sleep. I am devastated.

IAR Goa are putting down healthy animals and lying to me saying that they are sick. Do they think I'm stupid? I know they have a huge amount of kittens and puppies coming in and they can't handle it under current procedures. I sent them this article and it seems that they have no interest in making any changes in order to reduce the amount of animals put to sleep. Who are these people? Have they become so comfortable with the way that they work that they see no problem with it anymore?

They're asking me to foster kittens, then telling me I can't and that they're putting them to sleep instead. Why? Because I'm emotional and sensitive and they think I can't handle the heartbreak. Surely that's my decision? Surely it's worth risking a little more heartbreak in order to save lives?

I am angry and frustrated and lost. I don't know what I am doing here anymore.

Limited Shelf Life

Limited shelf life. Someone used this phrase to me today. They weren't talking about food items, or the popularity of X Factor contestants. They were talking about puppies and kittens.

This is how it works here at IAR, Goa: If they can't find a home for a healthy kitten or puppy within an alotted time they are PTS (put to sleep - yes, somebody else used this acronym to me today).

This does not sit well with me at all. In short, I do not agree with it and I have to admit I am struggling a bit, wondering if I am really making any difference at all. I am uncomfortable with donating any money to a charity that ends the lives of healthy living creatures and am torn about what to do with the money I have raised for them.

All Before Midday

Yesterday was pretty eventful, animal-wise, and it all happened before midday.

Whilst walking dogs at the rescue centre I saw wild monkeys for the first time in my life. It was pretty exciting as I'm quite fond of monkeys (understatement). For those of you keen on details, I believe they were Langures.

Then, later on I was roped into de-ticking some puppies. It was the first time I'd done it and, although I'm not usually squeamish, it was pretty damn gross. They had dozens of them in their paws and ears. I eventually had to stop and leave it to another volunteer who was more experienced in doing it. Maybe next time I'll be better, or maybe I'll just see if I can clean a maggot wound. (I watched this happening a couple of days back and it didn't bother me at all. I know, I'm odd.)

As I was about to leave I met a girl who had find a tiny male kitten who had been separated from his mother in the rain (yes, it has been raining here and when I say rain I mean RAIN). He couldn't have been more than 3 days old, his eyes weren't even open yet. I gave her some advice based on my looong week of experience in hand-rearing kitties and told her that if he survives that she should get in touch with me when she leaves in 3 weeks and I'll try to re-home him/arrange for him to be neutered. Sadly, I don't think I'll hear from her.

Finally, I made it home to take care of the kitten and, as I lovingly picked her up out of her sleep-box, she pooed on my feet, and then on the floor. Brilliant.

A pretty eventful morning. Definitely beats office life, even if I did have shitty feet.

So I'm Hand-Rearing a Kitten

Yes, you read it right. I'm hand-rearing a kitten.

At present she's about 2 weeks old, full of meows and is all claws as she tries to suckle at me in vain. I found her abandoned early one morning as I walked to buy breakfast and couldn't find any sign of her mother or any siblings. I can only assume she was left there, unwanted by a human who hadn't had the sense to neuter their 'pet'.

I took her to International Animal Rescue and was told that, if they took her in, they would put her down because they just didn't have the time or capacity to look after her needs. This was encouraged by one volunteer in particular, who assured me that it was the best thing to do and that she didn't stand a chance. Her opinion was that she may not survive the hand-rearing and if she did we probably wouldn't be able to find her a home. She may well be right but I am not in any position to play God with another healthy creature's life. I could not allow her to be euthanised, knowing that I had the time and capacity to care for her needs. This particular volunteer is now ignoring me to the point where she she won't acknowledge my existence or respond to my hello/goodbye, which is rather annoying. I'm getting quite tired of being bullied in my places of work, but I feel that I did the right thing for Squidge and for me.

I'll keep you updated on her progress. She's already starting to pee and poo on her own (usually you have to massage their belly) and she's going from strength to strength. Hopefully when my camera is fixed I'll have some pictures to show you. Until then, any tips from people who have hand-reared animals would be greatly welcomed.

2 Weeks! 2 Weeks!

Many of you will not get the movie reference above but if you do, tell me and I will bestow upon you love.

So, why '2 Weeks' as a blog title? I hear you ask. Well, that is how long it has taken me to get my life in order over here in India and to start working with International Animal Rescue.

This morning I made my first solo drive to Assagao from Arambol (18km) and spent 4 lovely hours walking dogs, almost getting bitten and struggling to get some back into their kennels. But really, it was lovely, I played with tiny kittens and feel like I am earning the trust of a very sick and very shy cat. I can't wait to see her again tomorrow. I also saw a dog who had been in a fight and had his nads... um... ripped open. It was fascinating to see how cool he was with it and also just kind of fascinating to see inside. I know, grim.

The people at IAR Goa are amazing. I found out today that they carry out 200 neutering/spaying operations a week on cats and dogs from the area. It seems like such a high number but really it's only the tip of the iceberg. The stray animal/breeding problem is here is quite large and I only hope I can make a little bit of difference to each of the little souls I come into contact with.

So yes, things are great. Thank you so much to every body who has donated so far. You really are making a difference!

India: The Arrival

I have arrived in India!

The the sun is shining, weather is humid and I have nothing much to report apart from sleep, which I gather is probably disappointing for you to read.

I'm not completely sure that it's jet lag of some description; I think it's very likely just exhaustion from the huge build up of getting here. Looking back, I barely stopped, I was always doing something or seeing someone and now I can have a couple of days to myself and if that involves laying down, occasionally reading a book and sleeping, so be it.

Tomorrow I'll be getting a scooter and I'm hoping to use my bargaining powers (although rusty) to get a good discount for long term rental. After that there will be no stopping me and I'll have tales of animal rescue galore.