While both Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporations have no official rescue shelter for animals and the few that were run by NGOs not functional anymore, it’s a pathetic state of affairs for the homeless dogs in the city.
Equally challenging are the times faced by the handful of private agencies currently running the rescue shelters on their own. Most complain of being over burdened with calls, and with finance and space problems confronting them, they say they are unsure how long they can run operations.
Highlighting the need for a government-owned or run shelter, NGOs say the civic bodies have so far restricted their activity only to animal birth control, which pertains to sterilisation of stray dogs.
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Amit Shah, who runs Prani Seva Shelter, says his shelter currently has over 100 dogs and it is already getting difficult for him to run operations. “We do have an ambulance which can be rushed when we get a rescue call, but the fact is that we are a private organisation with no government support. So far, we are managing expenses of feeding the animals twice daily solely on our own and whatever funds we get. It is getting difficult to sustain and we wish the government takes this issue up seriously. Many agencies that were conducting dog rescue have shut down,” Shah says.
Manoj Oswal, who runs People for Animals in Pune, concedes their rescue shelter in Handewadi has stopped taking new admissions as they are in midst of shifting operations to Kamshet, where an animal hospital is being set up. “Pune as a city needs at least five shelters supported by the government, considering the fact that at least 40-50 rescue calls are received daily. Any one centre will not have capacity to take over 10 calls. Currently, it is putting great pressure on the existing organisations. I believe only one is currently involved in rescue and shelter as all others have stopped accepting fresh admissions,” Oswal says.
Calls to JeevRaksha and Animal Farm, both shelters for animals, say they have stopped taking new cases and only tend to their existing animals.
Meanwhile, officials of both municipal corporations had no answers as to what happens when a animal who needs shelter comes to their animal compound. At the dog pound located in Nehru Nagar, which is on contract with the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, manager Bapu Patil says they have sterilized around 14,000 dogs. A visit to the centre revealed that 120 dogs were crammed in four rooms of 100 sq ft and were fed chicken and rice for two days before being dropped back into their areas.
Asked what happens when a maimed or terminally ill dog comes to the centre, Dr Satish Gore, veterinary services officer of PCMC, says they contact private agencies. “We had asked private agencies to send us detailed proposals and budgets for starting up rescue shelter services but no one showed interest. I will follow it up again this week,” he says when asked why PCMC doesn’t have an official rescue shelter.
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has a contract with the Blue Cross Society of Pune for sterilisation of dogs. While it doesn’t pay the organisation for shelter services as claimed by NGO management, there is at least a facility available here for animal rescue and shelter. With a capacity of 300 animals, the centre currently has 150 animals and is equipped with an Operating Unit, a Critical Care Center, a Boarding Room and an Intensive Care Unit as well as isolated and grouped kennels for the dogs. They also have 15 employees, including a full-time vet. However, here too, fund problems have cropped up, conceded Ajit Shinde, general manager and adviser who says the NGO is mainly subsisting on donations.
For the last two months now, the PMC has not renewed its tender with the organisation. PMC’s health officer Dr S T Pardeshi says the process is ongoing. “Paper work is in process but it shouldn’t be an issue. We pay them for sterilisation services. While we do not pay them for shelter or feeding animals, the land is given by us. Also, we are building a shelter in Baner soon,” he says.