I went with no expectations--only an open heart and my usual curiosity. As we drove into the driveway, there was a feeling of a sanctuary emanating from the trees that provide shelter and greenery from the outside world and a guard who was thoughtfully securing the entry and exit of each animal and human. I was introduced to several officials on my way to meet Dr. Reece, Jack. Jack who is a veterinarian from the UK has been coming to Jaipur for 17 years to "help with suffering." He was very gracious to spend 2 1/2 hours showing me the facility/animals, talking about the services provided/ philosophy of the center, and sharing about his journey/commitment to the animals/humans in India. The organization and facility was founded by an English woman who wanted to make a difference. They originally helped any human or animal that was in need. Interestingly most of the funding comes from outside India--UK, Australia, US etc.. India doesn't really have an internal process for helping animals. I was wondering about all of that when I was trying to find help for the young cow with the broken leg. A large part of the Indian population thinks about donating money to a spiritual/religious center rather than an animal welfare center. We both ageed that in the UK and US it was more likely to be the other way around.
I saw dogs, cats, tortoises, camel, dogs, cows, donkeys, monkeys, birds, dogs, burros, and dogs. There was a very good effort for cleanliness and order. The animals were contained in reasonable cages and their needs were looked after by an enthusiastic staff. I did see quite a variety of wounds, recovered broken appendages, skin conditions, and more. It must be overwhelming given what I see on the streets. The where do I start question comes to mind with neon lights. Well, this woman (now deceased) started and helped to create facilities in multiple cities and education standards for other cities to follow.
Why so many dogs? One of Jack's biggest contributions is his strong belief in reducing the number of people in Jaipur who get rabies from dog bites. The focus is on catching roaming city dogs, spaying the females, and vaccinating all for rabies. The dogs are a big problem, but the underlying problem is the amount of garbage/refuse available for them to eat. They have a lot of opportunities to scavenge food--especially that the vultures are almost extinct. (I was reading about the severity of the lack of vultures in Jane Goodall's book. The vultures are critical for cleaning up the city, but they have been poisoned by all of the medicines given the animals which then are passed onto the vultures when they are feeding on the dead animals. One of those life cycle situations that are often not considered until it is a massive problem.) The idea of focusing on the females is to help reduce the numbers in the most effective way. There happened to be a stray dog that wondered onto the facility while I was there, so I got to see a humane way of catching a dog. Once a year, they do a scientific survey of the dog numbers and they have been reduced considerably, but no time to take a nap! The dogs are caught and rereleased, so funding is a must, since there are no owners to finance the medical attention. Periodically, other factions poison, electrocute, and brutally murder the city dogs, so Help in Suffering is a very positive alternative.
There are lots of other animals and each one has a story just like each human. There was a camel with a large section of it's back/hindquarters covered in burns (they looked like some sort of chemical burn), tortoises with cracked shells (glued back together), calves with broken legs (wearing casts), (cows that eat plastic bags are out of luck because of their stomach design, so they starve to death), a cow with a broken horn, birds with broken wings, monkeys that were raised from absentee mothers who were electrocuted from the overhead wires, cats (it was a good decision not to bring Sophie with me....), and dogs with skin problems, etc.
Wow, a lot to digest! When I left, I didn't feel sad, overwhelmed, angry, and so many other emotions that go with witnessing living beings in despair. I was thoughtful, but appreciative of the people who are out there working on the front line to make a difference. How could I help the most in this situation? Help direct funding towards the organization, since the inner workings are running smoothly and efficiently. Why would someone donate to an organization in India versus their own country? It probably comes down to feeling positive about helping somewhere that is meaningful. I donate to organization all over the world and I wonder what happens to the money. In this situation, I can see directly, inside the program and what they are trying to affect.
Thank you Jack!!! And all of the people at Help in Suffering!!!
Here is a heartfelt video of an elephants returning to friendship and retiring.