Our beloved Shelter.
Yes! Dear People,
It was a long, long day. Got up at 4am. Got home at 8:30pm. But it was a sensational day, a deeply moving day, a humbling day. I took a little nap at 10:30pm, got up intending to shortly go back to bed...But then I saw it, "a gentle reminder" email from GlobalGiving that our next Report was due on the 19th...In seven days...How Perfect!
I'm starting the Report now and am first going to tell you about the extraordinary rescue, enabled by me and Dr. Raja...But put together, top to bottom by our beloved Vishwa. I truly don't know how he was able to do it. Truly. That's why I sometimes call him the Martian. Because an earthling couldn't do what he does.
I got a call (yesterday, Wednesday the 12th) involving creatures that needed rescuing 75 kms from here in a small village called Mathura Arasanoor.
A local political figure had five days before been killed by six men from that village. India, especially some of the rural areas, can sometimes be driven by blind passions, almost not understandable. (Let me insert here that I have spent 26 years of my life in this country. And I love it, and love the people. And, in my Heart, it is my country.) Well, anyway, the six were all related and from the same village. The families fled for their lives, abandoning their animals, probably never to return. "Sympathizers" of the murdered political figure burned down the houses of the families.
Further, the "sympathizers" would not let anyone feed or care for the animals. 85 of them. And they were slowly starving...Goats. Cows. Calves. Bulls. Bullocks. Sheep. Pigs.
Word reached us five days after the happening. To confirm, I called a local newsreporter who'd gone in to do the story the day before. It was true. And five animals had already died. With that confirmation, Dr. Raja and I then approached the Collector (like a regional governor), who turned out to have some familiarity with the situation. And by 8pm an order was issued for the police to impound the abandoned animals, who were suffering and in danger of dying. And the order further specified that our Shelter be used to do the rescue and care for the them.
Vishwa did not hear of this until 7pm, just before the order was issued. I told him what was unfolding, and that time was of the essence. He said that he'd be ready to move by 8am in the morning. I was almost unbelieving...I said, "Babe, are you sure?..."No problem, Sir."
And unbelievably, early Thursday morning Vishwa was set to move. Four very large lorries with drivers, and a small sized one with three large cages for the pigs. And Vishwa, of course, to hands on orchestrate the whole thing, plus six carefully selected men to catch and load. (Included were Pandi, Venkatesh, and Prem Kumar from our Staff.)
Our emergency "task force" first went to the principal government office in Chengam, the main town 35 miles from the village. It was a dangerous, potentially explosive situation. So the principal Government official there assembled a contingent of police protection (including a sub-inspector who was head of the Station), and seven influential government officials from various departments. We then headed towards the village. The trip was partly thru hilly country and pothole, torn up roads. It took almost two hours. It was a beautiful village. There's a general drought in most parts of Tamil Nadu and everything is dried up. But there was a large dam and reservoir nearby, and it was surrounded by distant high hills. It was beautifully green, something I'd not seen for several months. (We picked up the vice-president of the village on the way. He was afraid and had not gone there since the murder.)
Before proceeding...Let me tell you that rescued were 56 goats, 2 sheep, 17 cows/calves/bulls, 6 bullocks, and 4 pigs (including a large, and as we learned, belligerent male close to 300 pounds.)
It took four hours of intense effort, and went off unbelievably perfectly. (I want to do an eight foot bronze casting of Vishwa, illuminated at night with lights.) I was humbled by how intensely, and professionally they moved, without a break for four continuous hours. I was so proud of our three Staff that put out such strong energy and were fearless. There were many, many places where they could have been badly hurt, especially in the loading of the cows, bulls, and bullocks.
First the goats were loaded into two large lorries. They were in two contained areas, didn’t weigh much, and were gentle creatures. So it went rather fast.
Then the cows, calves, bulls, and bullocks were loaded in the two remaining large lorries. First they all had to be gathered, lead ropes put on, and tethered, which took at least an hour. Then the difficult part. Most did not get on the trucks willingly. They had to be pushed and lifted. It was intense. Especially the six large bullocks. The calves were no problem. They simply were lifted and put on. This is a short paragraph, but let me tell you it was fraught with unbelievable effort requiring almost superhuman strength. And it was dangerous. Thank God there were no major injuries.
While loading, one of the cows broke away and ran off. As you’ll see in the photos, there’s a lot of land and considerable forested areas. We had eight people searching for her for 45 minutes. But we had to give up and leave her behind. Vishwa spoke to some nearby local people. He left his phone number and took theirs. When they see the cow, they will call. If they can tether her, that would be best. Vishwa told me he would then go in there with a small truck and pick her up. I told him, “Absolutely not. You have to go in with police protection. This isn’t a kiddie's game we’re in. You could easily be killed.”
Then, with some difficulty, the four pigs were caught, put in cages, and loaded onto the smaller lorry. The two younger ones were fast and ran all over the place. It took half a dozen people at least 30 minutes to catch them. The smaller adult posed no special problems. It was getting the large male into the cage that was very intense. Pigs are intelligent and very affectionate creatures. But they can become seriously aggressive. And a pig bite is very, very heavy. I know Vishwa had read up on how to catch pigs, and tho’ he never says anything negative, I know that he was a little concerned at how it might unfold.
And so we started the journey back. It was after 4pm.
To care for the animals, Vishwa arranged for:
- A very good cowshed in Tiruvannamalai for the cows, calves, bulls, and bullocks. He hired five experienced caretakers (three for the day, two for the night) for around the clock care...and set up a good food supply.
- For the goats and two sheep, he selected a semi-grassy (remember there's a severe drought here), shaded area 25 kms outside of Tiru that also has a good water supply. He hired an additional five caretakers to give them 24 hour care. Most nutrition will come from grazing where they are situated. It will be supplemented by oil cakes and purchased fresh grass.
- What happened with the four pigs and their housing is almost a horror story that I will develop later.
On the trip back, Vishwa called ahead to have ample water available for the cows. It was after 7pm and dark when they got there. It took almost an hour to unload the 23 from both lorries. And even in the dark, the young calves found their moms in a few minutes.You'd better believe they were all thirsty and hungry! Vishwa had four caretakers the first night.The Precious Ones had been thru difficult circumstances. They were given dry grass, water and rice bran before being settled in. The following morning, oil cakes were added, and a second kind of rice bran. On the following day, fresh green grass was added. (Because of the drought, Vishwa couldn’t get fresh grass, locally.) Om Namah Shivaya.
It was around 9pm, and completely dark, when Vishwa headed for the goats to get them “tucked in” for the night.
In the meantime the goats had been unloaded in their place about 25 kms away. There were five caretakers there. The goats had been given water when they arrived, but nothing else. It was too late to arrange anything. The caretakers were encircling them, keeping them together, waiting for Vishwa, who showed up somewhat before 10pm. He set up a temporary net enclosure, and the goats were settled in for the night. In the morning he built a “permanent” net enclosure (see the photos, below), reduced the caretakers to three, and the Sweeties (they really are gentle, vulnerable creatures) were taken for extended foraging, which they loved. The following day, oil cakes and peanut plants, both of which are favorites, were added to their diet.
The four pigs are being housed in the Shelter in a 12 x 20ft pen especially built for them in a spot that also has a roof. It’s at the far end of the Shelter, away from the general congregation of dogs. Our regular Staff will lovingly oversee their care. How that came about, follows.
Everything went well except for the pigs. Their lorry reached the Shelter at about 6:30pm. They were left in the cages to be picked up at 8:30pm by a person who was going to drive the lorry to get them to a good place. He didn’t show. They stayed in the cages overnight.
They’re extremely intelligent, sensitive, and loving, capable of forming close bonds with humans, moreso than the other Voiceless Ones we rescued. Tho’ they’d not been fed for six days, and the people caring for them were gone, they surely didn’t realize they were in deep trouble. Then we showed up, aggressive strangers, and roughly put them in three cages. Having lost everything they’d ever known, for three hours they were driven on a lorry. And the cages were small.
The Staff tried to mitigate their suffering. They took water and two grains that had been prepared for them, but nothing else. The pigs were aggressive and so traumatized that they wanted no one near them.
Vishwa tried all the next day to get a good place. But couldn’t. I called around, unsuccessfully. We got in touch with a very good woman who had a half acre near Chennai, a four hour ride away, where the pigs would run free. But the males had to be sterilized, which we couldn’t do because the owners have a right to reclaim them for one month. 6pm that second day, I said to Vishwa that if the best we can do is get a pen for them to be cared for, then there is no one I trust more than us. We agreed that the thought of them staying in the cramped cages another night was almost unthinkable. So Vishwa set out to gather the materials needed for a pen. By 8:30pm he was back at the Shelter ready to build. We spoke at 9:30pm. It would be set up within an hour. But another major problem-and a "biggie". They couldn’t get the pigs in thru the front gate. Vishwa had to lift the cages over the six foot wall encircling the Shelter, and the large male weighed 300 pounds. At that point, I felt that we just couldn’t do it and it would have to wait ‘til morning. But he said, “Sir, we can do it.”….6:30am the next morning I went to the Shelter. And there, in the 12 x 20ft pen, were the four pigs. This is now six days since their "horror". Their fear has melted away. They're being fed "piggie" delicacies. And they're starting to feel good.(A note to Vishwa. Don’t know if he’ll ever see it…"For everything you do. For your beautiful Heart. I place me head at your feet.")
ADDENDUM: It’s now the 8th day since Rescue. It feels so good to see the profound change in the state of all the cowshed creatures—physically and emotionally.
Their care regimen is:
- 24 hours a day they have dry grass and water.
- Twice a day, 10am and 5pm, they get oil cakes, two kinds of bran, and fresh green grass.
- The shed is cleaned every two hours.
- For two hours every morning they’re taken to a large field and allowed to run free. There are two that try to run away. They are kept on 30 ft. ropes.
- The caretakers are very good.
They have a lot of room in the shed. The vibration of the place is pure. And it’s clear that the Precious Ones are very content.
The Shelter is critically overcrowded. Four years ago, 60 in-patients would have been pressing our comfortable capacity inside. Now, because of an exponential increase in the number of animals coming to us, we have between 175 and 225 in-patients.
Amazingly enough, thru the devotion of our remarkable Staff, and the vibration inside the Shelter, the Precious Ones still feel safe, cared for and loved…AND are happy. But they can’t run around as freely as they used to.
To give all our animals more attention and caring, we hired four village ladies for half days—two morning, two afternoon. Their only activity is to give the Sweeties extra love—caring, massaging, reassuring, holding. And to keep the animals happier in the hot season, we purchased four air-coolers.
Our number one priority is to build a larger facility. We are presently petitioning the present Municipal Commissioner (newly arrived), who strongly supports our Work (Hallelujah), to give us a temporary extension of land that would relieve the pressure for one or two years while we go about raising money to buy land and build a much larger facility. It appears likely that enough of an extension will be granted to do the job.
We have a wonderful, remarkable Staff, led by Dr. Raja, President Trustee, Director of Medical Services…And Vishwa, our Director of Operations. Dr. Raja is one of the most experienced clinicians within 150 kms of here. People regularly travel over 100 kms to have him treat their pets. And he is believed to be the very best surgeon in the region. He undertakes operations sometimes lasting four to six hours that other surgeons wouldn’t think of attempting. The Government Veterinary Hospital has him do all their complicated operations. The Forest Department brings all their difficult cases to him. The Madras Veterinary College sometimes sends students to observe him…Our Staff consists of 21 excellent Beings, most of whom have been with us over six years. The love and caring they give to our Precious Ones is humbling.
We are very, very busy. The activity of the Shelter has tripled in the last five years. But Dr. Raja, Vishwa, and our beloved Staff handle it beautifully.
We are able to handle all of our operational functions.
- We are very, very busy. The activity of the Shelter has tripled in the last five years. But Dr. Raja, Vishwa, and our beloved Staff handle it beautifully.
- The up to 750 clinic visits a month.
- The 80 to 110 emergency rescues over and above the clinic visits. (Mainly creatures that we go out to get, most during the day, some at night…Our vets are on 24 hour call.)
- The 1,200 to 1,500 month treatments required of our in-patients.
- The 25 to 80 sterilizations a month.
- The up to 20 adoptions each month.
- The treating of 30 to 75 anim
Pranams to them, each and every one.
But, repeating, we are critically overcrowded inside our beloved Shelter.
We recently had a visit from two strong supporters and they immediately picked up on how beautifully our Precious Ones got along, despite our present crowded conditions and the fact they were not kept in cages and were running free. They really do feel safe, cared for and loved, and are happy. It's amazing. One would expect to see an ongoing riot with fights, fear, wounds. It has to do with the loving, sattvic shakti of the place. Their relationship with each other. Their relationship with the Staff. Their feeling protected and safe.... AND Grace.
Before we got crowded I used to love to see them all feed together. Anyone who's tried to feed three or four dogs together knows of the difficulty involved. Here's an excerpt from an article about feeding that I wrote in one of our newsletters.
- But it's in the Feeding that each time I'm present, I see the unfolding of a miracle. These are all pups or homeless dogs who have dealt with who knows what injustices and cruelties in their lives. And certainly, many have dealt with hunger. It amazes me to see all of them fed together, almost all hungry, with such stunningly few conflicts. One would expect a riot..Open warfare...Greed...Territoriality...Fear of being deprived.
- It's the deep trusting...The security of getting theirs...Of their relationship with each other...Of letting others get theirs before them...Of the surety that the Staff, the ones who look after them, who care for them, who express love...will give them theirs.........I don't really know...These are fragments thrown in the direction of the complexity that's manifesting in this miracle...The miracle of them overcoming their primal survival instincts. Of not pushing and fighting to get their food...It's the definitive assertion that they feel...Safe...Cared for...And loved.
Before closing...Some moving Heart stories from the past.
Ramu2...He was a white Pomeranian. About three years old. Abandoned by his owners. It was evident they were viciously cruel with the little guy. I saw him first in a stall in our intensive care area. He was ferocious. No one could get near him. But we noticed that his head was almost turned towards the wall as he was snarling and snapping. His ferociousness was not directed at attacking us, but seemed rather to somehow be trying to fend off an imminent beating. I think that he had been beaten mercilessly to “subdue” him. I started by just sitting quietly outside the cage. Not too close. And just speaking gently with no attempt to get closer. I felt that he would experience any approach as threatening and frightening. And so it went on like this for a number of days, Not approaching. Talking gently as he snarled and snapped. Then I started throwing him cheese cubes. Still not approaching. Speaking gently. For a week or so. Slowly he started looking at me in the morning when I came to see him. I would immediately start throwing in the cheese cubes and talking to him. Then, after a while, his tail started wagging when I showed up. And then----He started approaching me. During that period he also started relating to other staff members...And then we had him running around free in the "Intensive Care" area. At first, I was a little apprehensive. But he was terrific. Then, with Bach Flower remedies, Ramu2 just became "one of the guys". Om Namah Shivaya.
The Liontail Macque Monkey story...We got him near Shanti Internet. He was pretty big. And very, very strong.He had significant leg injuries and we had to sedate him to get him to the Shelter…Dr.Raja finished working on him in the clinic and told Vishwa to carry him over to a cage. When Vishwa picked him up, it turned out he was not fully sedated and they, the two of them, started crashing around the clinic, wrestling, until Vishwa, after five minutes, finally prevailed and got him into the cage. Two days later he was released back into his territory…Vishwa said he was so strong that his first step out of the cage was thirteen feet!
Well dear People, we've come to the end of this Report... So... Repeating from prior Reports...We're under BIG pressure to get into a much larger facility, and that means land ($40,000 to $75,000), and building ($250,000). I believe it will take at least a year. If you know Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, call them! If you know Ratan Tata, Rockefeller, or a gadzillionaire who loves animals, call them! If you have contact with my Mother, tell her to send my Piggy Bank. Anything you can do would be great. If it's not money...Prayers...This is real and it's big. ALSO, CONCERNING THE PIGS AND SHEEP...The owners can re-claim them within one month. If so, they would ultimately be headed for slaughter. If that happens, we will try to buy them and send them to a sanctuary to live out a natural life. The cost of the four pigs would be around $600. The cost of the 56 goats and two sheep would be around $3000. If that should come about, and you'd like to help enable us to do it by pledging a donation, should it arise...Write me...And I will let you know if it's going to happen...If the owners don't re-claim, then they're ours, free and clear...Om Namah Shivaya (You can contact me at email@example.com).
Vishwa, at the beginning, surveying the situation.
Poor Sweeties. But you're in good hands, now.
Don't worry,babe.We'll take very good care of you.
GOATS: First one on lorry Number Two.
Lorry Number Two set. Police confirming count.
COWS: Rounding up, lead ropes, tethering.
With a little help from my friends.
Oh my, you're really heavy.
Lorry Number One, loaded.
PIGS: 'Big Guy' weighs 300 pounds.
Leslie, speaking to Press Corp.
All loaded. Ready to roll...Yay!!!
Cows:Unloaded,fed,and settled in--Vishwa checking.
COWS: Second day after Rescue.
Your nightmare is over, Dear Ones.
You're in good hands, now.
GOATS: Next morning. Pen. Goats are out grazing.
Now that is what I call a stretch.
PIGS: You poor guys have had a horrible time.
But you're safe, now. Om Namah Shivaya.
Left-Photo at Rescue....Right-Photo 8 days, later.
Left-Photo at Rescue....Right-Photo 8 days, later.