One of the ongoing problems that Auroville and its surrounding villages face is the presence of considerable numbers of abandoned or uncared-for semi-feral dogs and cats, many of them sick, and some carrying rabies. Adding to this problem is the fact that too many abandoned animals are left to wander about with the result that litter after litter of unwanted puppies and kittens, most of which die of undernourishment and disease, roam the area. Those that do survive perpetuate the problem.
Some years ago a small team of concerned Aurovilians began trying to do something about the problem. Initially the aim was to give regular nourishment to uncared-for animals while trying to treat the sick ones. Alongside this work, a dog sanctuary was established where the unwanted puppies could be cared for while simultaneously, efforts were made to find homes for them. About 200 puppies have passed through the sanctuary in the past two years, with about 50% of those finding a home.
This helped, but it did not deal with the issue of rampant breeding, and so, in 2005, the ‘Integrated Animal Care' team was formed in Auroville with the aim of tackling this aspect of the problem. The team follows five principles in its animal care programme: sterilization, anti-rabies vaccination, medical care, adoption of strays, and outreach. The team has organized and paid for many sterilizations within Auroville and the surrounding villages where Aurovilian pet owners pay, while owners from the village have their animals sterilized for free. The team has also given anti-rabies vaccinations and provided treatment for a variety of skin conditions and other ailments when possible.
Their latest move has been the organizing of Animal Welfare Camps in the area, supported by funds from the Dutch Foundation Stichting De Zaaier, a donation of an ambulance by a generous long-time friend of Auroville in the same field of work, and the assistance of Dr. Kumar, the local vet who has been employed to do the surgical work. While the formal camps have concluded, the animal welfare work continues. Each week, about 7-8 sterilisations are performed. However, funding is urgently needed – the work costs Rs 50,000 a month.
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