Latest news from International Animal Rescue Goa
by Tanja Larsen
The season of 2005/06 is coming to an end and the month of April will see the last charters depart from the sunny state of Goa.
Thousands of businesses are about to close down for 6 months but the IAR centre in Assagao is not one of them. Animals do not distinguish between seasons, they always need help and sadly the monsoon season is an especially traumatic time for many of Goa’s stray dogs. Throughout the tourist season these dogs have been fed and watered regularly by the beach shacks, restaurants and tourists. But once everything has closed down and the tourists have gone home, who is going to provide food for these dogs? And what is to become of the puppies that visitors to Goa have taken in and looked after for 6 months once their carers go back to their lives at home? They do not belong to any territory and they are not able to fend for themselves. The brutal truth is the one the tourists don’t see - that hundreds and hundreds of these poor dogs fall sick from starvation and injuries which they sustain when fighting over the little food that they can find.
IAR rescues and treats as many of these dogs as is possible. The sad fact however is that we simply cannot reach out to them all. Some won’t let us catch them, some die before we can get to them. Whatever the reason, we have to keep reminding ourselves of the lives that we do save rather than despair over the lives that we don’t.
It is always a tough situation to face during the season when the natural selection process among the stray dog population is disturbed. Do we encourage the shacks and beach visitors not to feed the dogs? Or do we deal with the problems that occur as a result of regular feeding between the months of November and May? There is no easy answer. It would be against our aims as an animal welfare organisation to urge people not to care for the animals. The key is to try and make people more responsible when visiting Goa and discourage them from keeping "holiday pets" only to abandon them when they go home at the end of the season. Education is a big part of the work which IAR has to do among locals and visitors alike. Many problems could be reduced or eliminated if people were more responsible about owning pets and treating strays. One of the projects at the IAR centre this summer is to hold talks on animal welfare at a number of local schools to try and educate the children on how to relate to the issue of dogs and other animals.
In the meantime we’ll continue to improve the lives of as many of Goa’s animals as possible.