We Asked: Do you think we need better medical facilities for animals and strays, along with a dedicated 24-hour ambulance service?
Emergencies never look at the clock. The same is also true in the case of animals. But sadly, emergency services for animals are unavailable beyond the working hours of most animal welfare organizations and veterinary clinics. Fortunately, metropolitan cities across India have already started working on the lines of providing 24-hour emergency service for animals, but that is yet to see the light of the day as in the case of tier II cities. Animal welfare as such is a very unregulated industry in India, wherein the muteness of the animals is cashed on the most. Then, compassion for animals and strays, be it in a private or a public setting, is largely missing in most of the medical services that are available for them across India which often leads to cruelty, and gross medical negligence that even ends up claiming their lives. So, having a clear-cut vision, and a blueprint for transparency with all the logistics chalked out is of utmost importance. If 24-hour emergency initiatives are funded by state governments, they will have to ensure stringent monitoring by involving the community in a feedback system. That said, the community has an equal responsibility in making such a service run successfully. Let us reflect on the fact that when a pickup ambulance is called for an animal in need, the person who has placed the call is seldom present to help locate the animal. One cannot expect the service providers to do that. Funding, adequate manpower, that is not only trained but also knows how to humanely handle animals, medical equipment, syringes, needles, a steady supply of injectable and topical medicines that have not expired, hygiene, proper disposal of biomedical waste, will have to be ensured at all times. The emergency ambulance should be GPS tagged to track its live location, along with the details of the driver, handler, and vet available. Instead of a one-point intervention, a system of follow-up will have to be created to keep a tab on the status of the animal, should he/she need continued veterinary help. Maybe an app will be the best bet to make such a scheme a success because digitization is the only way out for the effective utilization of services. While it will take time and effort to build up in the sphere of emergency medical services for animals, it is the need of the hour that compassionate citizens who are involved in taking care of animals become self-reliant by taking some basic training with the local vets to handle emergencies. -Dr Kuhu Roy, a nutritionist who also runs the Bridging Rainbows initiative, and cares for several street dogs
Having a dedicated ambulance service along with a better medical facility will surely help in increasing the life years of animals and strays. Caring about animals is a very understanding and empathetic thing to do. Animals are also living beings and they also equally need medical attention when in need. Having proper facilities for animals shows that we are humane and responsible people. There might be some people who may say that such a thing is not needed for animals but then we can try to create a balance between our care for animals and humans alike by making conscious choices. Animals and strays can suffer from lots of medical issues like parasites, malnutrition, chemical poisons, and many unknown causes. If they are not treated properly then these can become a long-term health issues for them. Dogs may even turn hostile out of pain and suffering. A devoted medical system for animals will help them live happy and healthy life. Animals when treated well can be a companion for life and I am sure in this age of fickle relations no one would like to lose out on such a companion. So, caring for animals and strays adds years to their lives and ours as well.-Tulika Dasgupta, homemaker
A cursory Google search for medical facilities for animals and strays in Lucknow yields an impressive list. In that respect, the city does not appear to be lacking. In addition, Lucknow Municipal Corporation has established a dedicated helpline for injured and ailing stray animals. However, that is only part of the story. The absence of an ambulance service that could transport the ailing animal to the place of care is required. This would, of necessity, need to be manned by persons trained in rudimentary veterinary care. This facility has reportedly been made available for cows, but other strays, notably dogs, are reliant on the acts of the Good Samaritan for being taken to transporting treatment centres. This brings us to the larger topic of stray animal welfare. The street dogs that band into marauding groups and keep the city streets alive in the middle of the night, the monkeys that turn up on balconies of city homes and terrify residents - is it possible to share space with them and when we encounter them in pathetic conditions, can we extend our care? It is when we look after those who need succor, simply because we are moved by their plight, that we truly learn of our own humaneness. Little do we realize but in providing and engaging selflessly with injured strays, we not only help them but ourselves as well.-Niharika Singh, conservationist and stakeholder in Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary
Dogs have been man’s best friend since time immemorial. They can snap you out of any kind of bad mood that you are in faster than you can think of. So, it becomes imperative for pet owners to take utmost care of their pooches. Timely vaccinations or getting them groomed periodically becomes very essential both from the point of view of the dog as well as for the owners. A well-groomed and vaccinated dog is less likely to pass on diseases to humans. Here comes the role of pet clinics. Though there are many such facilities available nowadays, one needs to carefully pick the best for their canine friends. As government facilities are limited and that too in shambles, private players must pitch in to fill in the void and make the services available to dog aficionados. These private pet clinics and grooming centres should provide the best-in-class facilities to help the owners make their pooches remain in the pink of their health. The quality of pet clinics and the vet must be checked before visiting them as many times it does more harm than good. In a recent case wherein, a lady had called in a grooming service provider at her doorstep to give her pooch a bath and nail cut and was forced to file a case after the poor dog died of electrocution inside the pet van. The owners also must ensure that they take their dogs to genuine vets as these days even the shops selling pet products have started giving free ‘advise’ and drugs accordingly. Just like humans, one medicine may not be suitable for all breeds. Therefore, giving the right and timely medicine is very crucial. Also, pet clinics must maintain proper hygiene so that infections do not spread to other canines. Another important factor is prices. What is being observed these days is that such pet clinics and daycare centres are charging exorbitantly. Government must regularise this to ensure that pet owners are not fleeced by such pet clinics. A healthy dog is all that you need at home. They are the best stress busters and thus need to be kept in perfect shape.-Rahul Pakrasi, journalist and a cynophile
SOS services for stray animals
We wish to focus here on emergency medical services like ambulance for the mute animals that become injured in vehicular accidents or those that fall sick at the place of their living but cannot be carried to the hospital facility due to their size or nature of injury. Presently, in India the situation is pathetic as all such affected animals are either left to die with torture and sufferings or they lose their limbs or any vital part of their body for rest of their life due to the injury. We as human beings have being very selective in generating all kinds of medical facilities for ourselves with the usage of state-of-the-art instruments to facilitate them. Somewhere in this modern world we have started being inhuman to the animal communities. Whatever government or private animal hospitals and husbandries are developed are just minuscules in comparison to the needed infrastructure. The time has come where we must think about the situation and plan for a better medical facility for these animals that cannot communicate their pain in our language. Animals have their rights too as provided by legislature like the Prevention of Cruelty Act, 1960 which was formed with the objective to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals; the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972; cattle protection and cow slaughter prohibition legislations. The Indian penal code 1860, under section 428 and 429 of the IPC provides for punishments of all acts of cruelty such as killing poisoning etc., save guarding the interest of animals. In addition, several judgments of the honorable high courts and the honorable Supreme Court has provided provisions of animal’s rights and specified the availability of space to domesticated animals as well as for those which are living alongside the human beings as their pets and to provide the freedom of space and food. Several states in India have introduced the emergency related ambulance services so that the animals can be provided with immediate treatment and, if required, then can be taken to the nearest hospital for further medical support as per the case. However, the provision of medical assistance to every needy animal is far from the required level. In this direction on March 26, 2023, the government of Uttar Pradesh under CM Yogi Adityanath have started a tollfree helpline number 1962 under which 520 veterinary units (ambulances) where flagged off for providing and emergency facilities to people who are having ailing animals at their doorsteps. This newly launched scheme of the government has cost Rs 201 crore but it needs to be seen how effective and useful this facility would be, this we are saying in the light of very poor medical professionals not only in numbers but also in their caliber and how this 520 mobile veterinary units would be manned is anybody’s guess.
We herewith propose that this facility should be upgraded at the government level as per the following provisions:
- At least 24 x 7 availability of one hospital in every district of the state.
- At least one specific medicine and related surgical material available round the clock specifically for animals.
- Emergency and SOS services listed and popularized both in print media and electronic media.
- Facility for hospitalization as well as for doing surgical process in need operation theatre.
- Hygiene at all such medical facility.
- Availability of telephone numbers of all the professional doctors and paramedical staffs available at website of the government department.
- App based SOS facility for quicker redressal of the injured animals.
- Development of large open areas for keeping stray animals like cattle, dogs, and other types along with their feeding facility.
- Official process of adaptation of domestic animals through app or electronic media.
- Any addition state of the art scheme such as availability of instrumentation like x-ray, dialysis, ultrasound, orthopedic facility, blood transfusion facility would be a great gesture if the same is made operational at the earliest.
-Prof Vibhuti Rai & Anushka Mukherjee, Department of Geology, University Of Lucknow
Topic of the month: Do you think more lenient laws are needed to ensure wildlife conservation? For example, if someone helps a crane or a goose or a wild rabbit or deer and that gets attached to him and starts visiting him, the person should not be penalized or prosecuted nor should the two be separated. A more healthy live and let live policy should be allowed in areas fringing forests and wetlands? You may send your views (either in Hindi or English) in 300 words at treetakema[email protected]. Please also attach a colour photo of yourself.