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A number of people have come together to help the animals stranded in flood-ravaged Kodagu as well as in Kerala.

Found animals tied distressed scared Volunteers recount rescue in Kodagu KeralaCourtesy: Shravan Krishnan/FB
news Kerala Floods Monday, August 20, 2018 - 16:48

When Dr Suranjana, a veterinary doctor, arrived in Kodagu on Sunday along with another veterinarian and four volunteers to aid animal rescue in the flood hit district in Karnataka, she did not anticipate the horror stories that awaited them. 

This team was sent in by Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA), an animal welfare organisation in Bengaluru.  

“The terrain of Kodagu is hilly and very precarious. If an area has been hit by flood, it becomes completely inaccessible. Imagine an island surrounded by gushing waters. That’s what it’s like,” Dr Suranjana explains. 

Like Dr Suranjana and CUPA volunteers, a number of people have come together to help the animals stranded in flood-ravaged Kodagu as well as in Kerala. 

Animal rescue in Kodagu

CUPA volunteers have set up a base camp at Bylakuppe. The first animals they rescued were cattle. “There were 10 stray cows which came first and we have taken them to Hebbale village for now,” she says. 

“Now, people at relief camps have realised that we are rescuing animals, so they come to us and, I don’t even want to say...” Dr Suranjana trails off momentarily.  

“They tell us that their dogs are still at their flooded homes, tied up. I don’t know why they leave them tied at the time of a disaster,” she says helplessly. 

“Another challenge we have to navigate is that most of the dogs here are guard dogs. They will be nervous as well as aggressive,” she shares. 

Dr Suranjana hopes to arrange a location by Monday afternoon to temporarily keep the dogs that will start coming in soon. She is also being helped by local volunteers in Kodagu and some well-wishing Bengalureans who have come down to Kodagu to assist. 

Animal rescue in Kerala

Dr Satheesh of Indian Veterinarian Association in Wayanad has been carrying out rescue of cattle in the district. Wayanad was one of the worst flood-affected districts in Kerala with over 25,000 people in 220 relief camps. 

While they were able to save many cattle, there were others that they found had died after drowning due to the flooding. According to their calculations, thousands of poultry, at least 45 goats and 36 cattle have perished in the flooding. 

“The animals that survived, including about 1,000 cows, are now in need of feed and fodder. We need Rs 1,050 per animal to feed them minimum survival ration,” Dr Satheesh says. 

Another organisation doing rescue work is HSI. For three days until August 17, volunteers went to three relief camps in Nilambur taluk in Malappuram.  

“The strange thing was that when we asked the authorities at the relief camps if there were any animals to be rescued, they said no. When we asked the people, they had a different story to tell,” Sally Varma, Education and Awareness officer with HSI, tells TNM. 

“We came to know that many people had been forced to leave their pets at home. When the red alert was announced, the evacuation happened on a war-footing and the officials did not allow for the animals to be taken on the rescue boats,” she adds. 

When the volunteers went into one of the affected areas, they found to their horror that most of the houses had washed away. They could hear some dogs barking in distress as well.  

“They were so anxious and distressed. We were only able to rescue six after a lot of effort. The rest were too scared to come and kept running. It was raining heavily also,” Sally narrates. They also rescued two puppies and another five dogs on day two and day three. 

After arranging for a veterinary hospital to temporarily house the rescues, the team returned to Tirur. The situation had gotten so bad that it took them eight hours to traverse the distance from Nilambur. 

“We had thought we will go back but unfortunately, the routes got blocked because of the rain. And we started getting calls from Tirur itself,” Sally says. 

In Tirur, they have rescued 20 goats and eight cows. “It was horrible, the situation we found these cattle in. Many were tied up, just barely keeping their heads above water. They hadn’t eaten in days,” Sally shares. 

Logistical hassles

Jennifer Jacob, Founder of Chennai Adoption Drive, has volunteers across Kerala aiding animal rescue. However, rescue efforts are delayed because of the lack of availability of boats, as most of them are with NDRF. 

“The four boats we have aren’t enough. An organisation called ResQ from Pune is bringing a large vehicle to help rescue cattle and larger animals. But boats are necessary to get into the waterlogged areas," she argues. 

Jennifer explains that the most number of deaths are from Idukki district but in areas such as Chengannur, the cases are piling. 

"Most of these animals have been left behind on their terraces by owners who have had to flee. It is a dicey situation where they had no other choice," she says. 

Nishanth, an animal rescuer from Chennai, and his group of volunteers have been in Idukki district since Thursday. However, they realised that the entire area was under the control of the Army and rescues would be impossible to conduct with people still trapped in buildings at that point. 

"We then moved down to Kottayam where a breeder called us and said that 18 dogs were trapped in her backyard in cages. There was 10 feet of water there. This was a highly challenging rescue and we had to take boats into the house to bring the animals out," he explains. 

The rescuers have taken life jackets, ropes, medicine and food for animals. 

"We have now moved to Chengannur which is very badly affected. We have been going around rescuing whichever animals we see on the way. Just today, we rescued 50 animals. The problem is that these animals are so stressed that they won't even eat. The next step will be to make sure they get some nutrition," he explains. 

Some silver lining

In a time where animal rescuers have horror stories of the conditions they have found animals in, there are a few positive examples as well. 

For instance, Dr Suranjana talks about a family which refused to leave without their seven cows. “They lost about 50 acres of land in the flood. But thankfully, they had a car and also herded their cows to safety and now all of them have reached the relief camp here in Bylakuppe,” she says. 

Sally recounts a heartening sight from Karulai, one of the tribal settlements where they went to for rescue. “We found 50-60 dogs there but not one of them was tied up or caged. The water had not entered the homes yet, but was gushing dangerously. They were distressed but were at least free to fight for survival,” Sally says. 

There are also news reports of a woman, Sunitha, in Thrissur, who sent rescue officials back unless they allowed her to take her 25 dogs with her. She ultimately got in touch with HSI and was rescued along with her dogs. 

What you can do to help

Many of these organisations and individuals are working round the clock in adverse conditions to rescue animals. And they need help with rehabilitating and sustaining them. Here’s how you can help. 

To contribute to HSI go to www.supporthsi.in

The account details for Dr Satheesh are: 

AC No -002010 00100 5409 

IFSC- ICIC 00 SBCUB 

Bank - Sulthan Bathery Co-operative Urban Bank 

Name- Dr Satheesh kumar 

You can donate monetarily to help animals in Kerala and Kodagu by donating to CUPA as well. Go to http://cupabangalore.org/donate-now/ . Also drop an e-mail to communications@cupaindia.org and specify that the donation is for flood relief. 

There are three collection centres as well if you would like to donate in kind. Addresses are: 

CUPA Admin Office Kensington Apartments,

Flat D, Ground Floor, 

18/1 Ulsoor Main Road, 

Ulsoor, Bengaluru - 560 008 

(Mon to Sat, 10:00 am to 6.30 pm) 

Ph: +91 80 22947317 

CUPA Trauma & Rescue Centre KVAFSU,

Veterinary College Campus, Bellary Road, 

Hebbal Bengaluru - 560024 (Mon – Sun, 9:30 am to 5:30 pm) 

Ph: +91 80 22947300/301  

Woof Wagon Clinic

#361, 3rd Stage, Kautilya Swimming Pool Road, 

Dattagalli, Mysuru -570022 

Ph: +91 97414 58583 

You can also fill this Google form and request rescue if you know of stranded animals.

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