Sentient would like to share your trips and stories of places that you have volunteered your help and services in helping the animals of all countries. The aim of this page is to help get more people volunteering where help is needed. Please send on your photos and stories to those places that will benefit from the help of others.
Our Vice President Volunteers
Our VP Adele recently took another trip to Uganda to visit her sister, a primatologist who has connections with the Ugandan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA) and is active within the local rural communities.
Sentient in Fiji
October 2012 Adele (Vice President) and Matt (Public Officer) spent their annual holiday volunteering in Fiji. They spent time at the Fiji Islands Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and visited Waya Island assisting the eco resort Octopus and the Nalauwaki Village with a neutering and basic health check program.
Sentient Visits Rajasthan Rescues
Last month, Vice President Dr Adele Lloyd & Public Officer Matt Lloyd visited three animal rescue centres in Rajasthan India to find out the challenges they face and how Sentient could help…
The Tree of Life
We next visited the Tree of Life For Animals (TOLFA) located near the scenic lake town of Pushkar. TOLFA was started by an English vet nurse Rachel Wright 12 years ago and she has worked tirelessly to build up the Shelter which has provided medical care, rabies vaccinations & spay/neuter services to over 100,000 animals!
Help In Suffering
Finally we visited Help In Suffering (HIS) which is located in Jaipur and welcomes all volunteers including vet students. This well established organisation was founded in 1980 and helps all varieties of animals (including monkeys) - they even have a specialist camel rescue centre due to there being a lot of working camels in Rajasthan. HIS has 7 full time vets and 35 full time local staff. Dr Jack, being HIS’ long serving English vet, explained that they desex 3,000 dogs each year but with the unfortunate statistic of the average lifespan of a Jaipur street dog being only 3-8 years, this is an ongoing job.
Animal Aid Unlimited
“Our first visit was to Animal Aid Unlimited (AAU) run by a lovely American family who have dedicated their lives over the past 15 years to helping the street animals of Udaipur. Adele spent some time helping two volunteers Unka (a recent human doctor graduate) and Erica 2, as she was affectionately known, (a photographer but likes to get hands on with the animals) getting involved in a typical working day at the Shelter.
We also met with one of the co-founders Erika who told us that they have 200 animals permanently being cared for at the sanctuary plus 200 dogs with trauma or serious mange, 20 donkeys, 40 cows, 15 orphaned calves and 30 puppies - so as you can imagine life at AAU is always busy.
We had observed whilst travelling around Udaipur that the dogs we saw around the streets looked relatively healthy – AAU seem to be caring for all the sick and disabled dogs with their one veterinarian, dedicated team of expat volunteers and 70 Indian staff. However, AAU do still desperately need the help of volunteer veterinarians, those proficient in surgery such as with abdominal surgery, lateral ear canal ablation and/or orthopaedics would be of the greatest help, and AAU are willing to give some remuneration if they can stay for a number of months. Please email Erika if you are interested in helping such a worthwhile cause.
We met with Dr Aaftaab, who was in charge of the outclinic that day, then Raveen showed us around explaining the separate areas kennels, the TOLFA projects (which includes educating the local children in bite prevention in the control of rabies) and introducing us to many of the resident dogs. We then met with Rachel who explained that she cannot accept any volunteers at present but visitors are welcome. TOLFA employs 52 local staff, including 4 vets who help in the collection, treatment and care of these animals.
We were both very impressed at the resilience and courage shown by all of the organisations we visited who continue to do amazing work in the face of many challenges and adversity. We loved the fact that they all have animal ambulances that go out at almost any time of the day or night to collect sick or injured animals who may have suffered the likes of road traffic or train accidents (there are a large number of permanent dog residents with hindlimb paralysis at each of the Shelters). It was also clear that these organisations were not just there for the animals but they contribute so much to the communities they are involved in as well. The communities too embrace the cause knowing that each dog vaccinated against rabies is one less that could potentially past it on to a human, each dog desexed reduces the numbers of puppies in the local village/town begging for food, and when they see an animal hurt, they know who to turn to. The local people were being educated about animal welfare and how the principles of “One Welfare” affects the whole community.
One cannot visit India without being deeply saddened by the plight of the “sacred” cows scavenging food amongst, and most cases eating, the plastic dumped in the streets. This is a countrywide issue with seemingly no solution. Plastic end up blocking one of the cow’s stomachs and they die an agonising death. In a progressive move several years ago, Rajasthan State banned plastic bags but unfortunately this has never been enforced and the legacy of decades of plastic bag pollution seems hopelessly insolvable. There are many potential solutions to the problem including having a working State run waste management system but the rural areas of India are still many years from this ever becoming a reality.
A shorter term fix maybe to educate people in not putting their food scraps in plastic bags, or even reducing or banning the use of plastic altogether. Again this is a monumental task given availability of resources and the immense populations of India. It is also a frustrating reality that surgical intervention to remove the plastic to alleviate pain and allow for improved nutritional absorption is not a viable option. Firstly, as explained to us by the Shelters we visited, the successful recovery from these surgeries has been very limited (mainly due to the morbid state of the cows at this stage) but also, if the cow recovers and released then it goes back to eating the same rubbish on the streets so in effect nothing has actually been achieved.
Hindu cultural and spiritual sensitivities have significance in dealing with this tragic situation. Euthanasia as a treatment for those cows that are terminally ill and/or suffering extreme pain is illegal due to the scared status of the cow and comes with a 7 year prison sentence, again an added dimension of complexity faced by India’s animal welfare agenda.
However, it was heartening to see and meet new generations of Indians who are prepared to own their country’s animal welfare problems and become part of the solution. Shelters like these need our help in bringing much needed skills to keep the animal welfare movement progressing and most importantly to educate and train the local staff and volunteers to grow and create a sustainable animal welfare future for India.