Treatment of animals is strikingly different here than in the Western world. There is a dichotomy where certain animals are revered (in Hinduism, it's worse to kill a cow than a human), yet others are left to starve on the streets--can they even be called homeless if they've never had homes?
There is an animal hospital nearby that my mother told me about when she last came here. This general attitude for animals that are suffering in India is why I was so deeply impacted when I first visited the hospital. This place is a little silver lining in the cloud of neglect, and I want to make as much of an impact as possible in the short time I am here.
They take in strays, provide emergency medical care, and find good homes for the animals. They are in financial trouble, because they get very little funding from the government, and one of their biggest private donors just went bankrupt in the US. I donated what I could, but they still need much more. I just hope that the time I spend helping out eases their difficulties in some way.
I got a tour of the facilities today, which includes an exam room, several kennels, an operating room, and various other places for animals to stay. While the majority of patients are dogs that have either been abused or hit by a vehicle, the hospital is also currently caring for a horse, a cow, two monkeys, and some peacocks. They will take anything that is brought to them.
Puppies!!!! There is a brand new litter of puppies brought in last week--the mother had been hit by a vehicle in the street and has a broken hip, so she can't care for her litter. They were falling over themselves trying to get me to pick them up. They're so tiny! I can't wait to see them every day. I also spent some time with a couple of the monkeys currently in recovery--one had a bad skin problem, and the other had a broken back; they're both pretty much healed and will be released to a wildlife sanctuary soon. The third monkey has a ways to go yet, so I'm sure we'll get to know each other better.
My new monkey friends
Seeing some of the injuries sustained by these animals is really tough. Missing an eye, no hind legs, lesions on their skin--this is unfortunately normal in India. It breaks my heart to think of the pain they must have known, but at the same time I'm so happy they are in a place like this where they can get a little TLC--I'd say they've more than earned it.
This dog hasn't got any working hind legs--it's had to learn to walk on its two front ones The manager is going to Bangalore to find homes for some of the puppies, but when he returns on Wednesday he will assign me a specific task to help out with for the next few weeks. I've been told I might assist some of the sterilization surgeries (heavy on the assist--I'm definitely not a veterinarian!) which would be amazing. I got to watch my uncle do a canine splinectomy when i visited his vet clinic in Vancouver this year, and it was awesome. Why can't I be good at science? I would love to do this for the rest of my life!
If it's just feeding and playing with the animals, that's fine with me too--I've got a lot of love to give and these guys deserve it! I'm finally feeling like I'm fulfilling what I came here to do.
I'm also starting a project with the charity that I have been assigned to this week--the animal hospital is strictly volunteer. Well, I suppose they both are, but this project has been chosen for me, whereas the animals are what I do with my spare time. Hopefully I will keep learning even more this week--so far I'm on pretty good pace for a fascinating seven days.