i took these photos at blue cross of india, an animal shelter in chennai where i have started volunteering. the shelter takes in homeless and injured dogs and cats, as well as injured and neglected livestock – pigs, cows, horses, geese – and even small animals like guinea pigs and rabbits.
blue cross conducts a trap-neuter-release program for adult dogs and cats, and holds the puppies and kittens it finds for adoption. in my two visits there, i could see that the place is stretched to capacity: as a no-kill shelter, it has to hold the animals even if they are sick and treat them as best as they can. thus, while i was able to while away the hours socializing the puppies for adoption (a.k.a. playing with them), i had to avoid the mangy ones that simply weren’t thriving, and the staff didn’t seem able to fully segregate the sick ones from the healthy ones. i also found myself doing triage, identifying wounded puppies and bringing them to the veterinary staff for treatment. in one of the pictures below, for instance, you’ll see a puppy lying on its side and covered with flies: the insects were congregating around a few-days-old wound, and from time to time the puppy would cry out and convulse. i finally brought him in where the staff cleaned his wounds (and cleaned out his ears after i pointed out that they were full of black spores) and gave him a shot. they then put him in a segregated cage. the puppy was definitely more alert afterward, and i’m going to check on him when i go back on saturday.
abby has told me that i’m in trouble if i bring any puppies home with me, and i think one dog is enough for now, but you can see the challenge involved.