FOUR PAWs helpS strayS in INdia

Update, 16.3.2015 - Cows suffering from India's rubbish problem

In the last two weeks our vet team took care of many injured animals alongside vets from Blue Cross India, providing them the best possible medical care.
Our team reported  back to us that huge mountains of rubbish could be seen on the streets of Chennai, a problem caused by  people there throwing rubbish out of their car windows, among other things.
Among the most affected by the build up of rubbish on the streets, as witnessed by our vet team, are the  cows that are allowed to run free on Chennai’s streets. Due to a lack of proper food, the cows eat everything they find  laying around the streets. Once their stomachs are full of plastic, metal and other rubbish, it causes the digestive process to stop , toxins invade  the body and the cows usually survive for a maximum of one week. Death comes quickly and the animal dies in terrible conditions.

In the last weeks, our vet team treated four cows that were suffering due to this very problem. The team had to remove 25 kg plastic from one cow. Sadly, it was too late for most of the cows that arrived at the clinic. One unfortunately died shortly after it was operated on,  while two others sadly passed before it was possible to operate on them.  The one surviving cow  is still recovering from the stressful operation.
In the near future our vet team will travel to India again to take care of more injured animals.

Update, 26.02.2015 - FOUR PAWS vet team travels to Chennai

A team of vets from the international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS last week travelled to the Indian port city Chennai on the South-East coast India in order to treat, neuter and vaccinate injured stray dogs, as well as other animals in need, in cooperation with local animal welfare organisation Blue Cross of India. For two weeks, FOUR PAWS vets will provide free veterinary care to animals brought to them by the local authorities or members of the public.

Work from morning till night

FOUR PAWS team leader Dr. Anca Tomescu has been neutering and vaccinating dozens of dogs every day. Furthermore, the team has been dealing with a large number of emergencies involving birds, apes, cows, snakes, dogs and cats – the committed veterinarian takes on any challenge and any patient in order to save a life. Although the Indian vets are very good, they can’t manage alone the huge number of animals needing help. Dr. Anca Tomsecu is very happy to support Blue Cross of India.

The rough fate ot these animals

Yesterday, an abused young, female dog was brought to the shelter with a broken jaw caused by a brutal attack by a human. In an operation which lasted several hours, Dr. Tomescu and her team were able to fix the jaw of the dog, who they decided to call “Darling” from then on. As the orthopaedic mask required for such an injury was not available, the vets constructed a makeshift protective mask for Darling. She is now recovering well. 


“What is extremely emotional for me is the look of a scared dog like Darling which despite suffering terribly, begins to shake its tail happily after just a few caresses. I personally feel sadness inside of me and I wonder, every moment I see her, how she can still be so friendly to us humans after what she has experienced.”

FOUR PAWS vet Dr. Anca Tomescu

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Dr. Tomescu is hopeful that Darling will find a loving home soon.

The consequences of the waste problem in India

A short time later another huge challenge presented itself to the team. A pregnant, very weakened cow that could hardly walk was brought to the surgery. In another long and very strenuous operation veterinarians from FOUR PAWS and Blue Cross of India removed 25 kilograms of garbage, including plastic bags, wire and plastic bottles, from the cow’s stomach. It is unbelievable that such a quantity of garbage could fit into the poor cow. The sight of such a mountain of rubbish should make people who throw trash on the streets aware of the impact it has, especially in countries like India where cows are roaming. It will become apparent within the next few days whether the veterinarians have been able to save the cow’s life.

Cooperation with Blue Cross of India

For many years, vets from the Indian partner organisation, ‘Blue Cross of India’, have been neutering and treating hundreds of stray dogs per month. However, there are much more animal patients than vets. Every day, several trucks full of dogs and other animals arrive at the Blue Cross shelter requiring treatment, meaning a lot of work for the vets from early in the morning until late at night.
 FOUR PAWS started its first collaborative project with Blue Cross of India in 2007. Since then, the team has visited Chennai twice a year to provide veterinary assistance.

Background information about the work of Blue Cross of India

In Chennai, the authorities began a catch and kill program in 1860, to solve the problem of stray dogs. Then in 1919, local authorities decided to legalize the catching and killing of any dog found on the street, without a namebadge. The number of stray dogs killed continued to grow after this period. However, after the mass killing of dogs for over 100 years, the problem wasn’t solved at all; cases of human rabies haven’t decreased, nor the number of dogs on the street.
In 1996, Blue Cross of India implemented an extensive Animal Birth Control programme, to catch and neuter stray dogs in Chennai and Japura. The programme was then expanded after the first six months around other parts of the Chennai region. The purpose of the ABC programme is not only to bring down the number of street dogs in a humane manner, but also to bring down the number of cases of rabies. After the implementation of the sterilization program in Chennai, the number of human rabies deaths decreased from 120 (in 1996) to five (in 2004).

FOUR PAWS helps Indian strays

The FOUR PAWS Stray Animal Care is in Chennai, India, supporting local partners by neutering strays, as well as vaccinating and treating animals from September to October 2014. The project in Chennai started in 2010 and is carried out in close cooperation with the Blue Cross of India.

Animals in need

The FOUR PAWS team is not only focusing on cats and dogs, but also cows, oxen, goats, snakes, camels, birds and other animals. The priority is the provision of medical treatment, as well as the neutering of strays. Up to now, FOUR PAWS has neutered 500 stray dogs.
As many different animals are in need of help, special cases occur nearly every day. 

“Today 150 birds were confiscated from people selling them in the streets illegally. Some of the animals were sick and some even died. But fortunately, most of them could be saved and were released.”

FOUR PAWS vet Dr. Anca Tomescu

On another occasion, a FOUR PAWS vet had to treat a camel, whose foot had been wounded and become infested  after it was caught in some rope.  

Strays and their fates

Despite this, dogs are still the most frequent patients. Mosu (meaning “the old man”) is one of them and his name is proving to be very appropriate. He is a very old, deaf and blind dog with an injured leg and not a single tooth left in his mouth. He lives in a paddock which the team passes every day on its way to the clinic. Mosu then immediately sniffs the air and comes to the clinic where he typically spends his whole day under a table in a deep sleep.

 The dog Catifea (meaning “velvet”, named because his fur is so soft) had to endure considerable pain when his wound was treated. Nevertheless, he is always very happy when he recognises anyone from the local team.
© FOUR PAWS | Naveen Mahendran

Capacity building

On top of the work FOUR PAWS is doing to treat and neuter animals, a program for training local vets has also been set up. Many injured animals are brought to the shelter of the Blue Cross, where the FOUR PAWS team operates, everyday.

The best thing we can do is provide local vets with knowledge and support them with our experience. They have a profound medical knowledge, but need every help they can get because of the sheer number of animals in need.”

FOUR PAWS vet Dr. Anca Tomescu