IAR thanks UK couple for helping stray dogs in Goa
by Tanja Larsen
The International Animal Rescue shelter in Assagao, North Goa serves 2 main purposes: 1) to sterilise and vaccinate stray dogs and cats and 2) to offer treatment of domestic animals and pets to the locals in the area. The centre also serves as a treatment facility for cattle and local wildlife.
On average 200 calls are received every month from the public to report sick and injured animals and to ask for un-sterilised dogs to be picked up.
Many areas have packs of up to 20 dogs roaming around and causing trouble for the residents and naturally they will turn to IAR for help in reducing the problem. Unfortunately it is not as simple as many think. First of all the kennels at the centre are always full, making it impossible to take in large numbers of dogs all at once. Secondly, wild dogs are very clever and when the drivers turn up in the ambulance with dog traps and cages the dogs very quickly deduce that something is not right and even the most docile dog will go to extreme lengths to make itself scarce to avoid the trap. Thus it is often the case that catching such big packs may take months because only one or 2 dogs can be brought in at a time and, with so many demands on them, drivers are constantly forced to turn their attention from one place to the next.
When Tracey and Dean Baker bought their apartment at Blue Beach Resort in Arpora, approximately 6km from the IAR centre, one of the first things they became aware of was the enormous number of dogs running around the fields behind the resort. A bitch had littered and her 11 pups were soon going to grow big enough to continue the breeding cycle. Other residents at the resort were often heard complaining that it was difficult to get a good night’s sleep because of the howling and barking and Tracey and Dean soon realised that something had to be done.
They contacted IAR to enquire about the procedure for resolving the issue and were told that the dogs would be caught over a period of time depending on how easy they proved to catch. They would then be sterilised and vaccinated and dropped back to the resort.
Whilst many people do not understand the concept of putting the dogs back, it is a vital step in the successful management of a stray dog population. If the dogs are taken away from their territory and placed somewhere else they are likely to get killed by other dogs and soon new un-sterilised dogs will occupy the territory which has been cleared. The aim of the Animal Birth Control Programme is to achieve a number of healthy, sterilised and vaccinated dogs in a given area.
The project at Blue Beach got off to a bad start when the drivers discovered that the pups were in a bad state and the dogs were so wild they couldn’t be caught. Tracey and Dean had returned to the UK and without someone there to manage a trap cage there was little that could be done except to keep trying to catch the dogs by hand. Constantly having to communicate the bad news to Tracey and Dean was disheartening particularly as they were trying to raise funds for the project back in the UK.
Then one day Tracey decided that enough was enough and whatever could be done had to be done. She jumped on the first available flight back to Goa to help IAR with the dogs at Blue Beach. She arrived on 4th March and during the following week gave all her attention to getting as many of the dogs in as possible.
A trap cage was set up and, thanks to Tracey’s cooking skills, the dogs just couldn’t stay away from it, leading to three going inside in just 30 minutes, despite having just seen their friends getting caught in the trap. The success continued and when the week was up a total of 14 dogs had been caught in the area surrounding the resort.
In addition to Tracey’s management of the trap cage she also looked after the last of the 11 pups - one that had been left behind - and ensured that he was cleaned, fed and that all ticks and fleas were gone so he was fit for adoption. She named him Prince and the transformation of the pup during the days in her care was amazing. He went from being a scared, dirty and flea infested pup to being a friendly, clean and healthy looking one.
Thanks to the help of another one of IAR’s supporters a home was found for Prince before Tracey left, so she was able to see him off knowing that he would be looked after.
All the dogs that were caught from the Blue Beach area have been sterilised and vaccinated and have returned to their patch.
So what started as a minor disaster turned out to be a successful project which hopefully the residents at Blue Beach will benefit from when they return next season. Two more dogs were caught from there after Tracey left and, although the manager of the resort promised to continue the support and assistance in catching the remaining dogs, we have not seen that promise materialise.
IAR Goa would like to dedicate this article to Tracey, Dean and Prince. Without the help and support of the couple it would not have been possible to achieve such good results so fast. It was a true pleasure and good fun too to embark on this project with them. Thank you.