March 2015, Udaipur - In aid of Animal Aid Unlimited

Further to the departure of Dahlia, a Swiss resident and colleague, to this rescue centre during her vacation in March 2015, AUXAN decided to assist Animal Aid Unlimited, an association located in India. This association is at the same time a shelter, hospital and refuge for injured and sick animals from the streets of Udaipur in the Indian state of Rajasthan. All kinds of animals in distress are taken in (dogs, cats, donkeys, pigs, cows, birds, etc.) and some of them become permanent residents because they need care for life. The founding members and managers of Animal Aid are an American family from Seattle (Erika, Jim and Claire) who live on-site all year round. Thanks to them, more than 65,000 injured animals have been taken care of since the association was created in 2002. The centre is located on the outskirts of the historical village of Badi, some 6 kilometres from Udaipur, and is run by a team of 54 people who are responsible for 500 animals in various stages of convalescence. Every day, a team sets out in an ambulance to go up and down the streets of Udaipur in search of injured animals that have been reported by the inhabitants of the neighbourhood (20 to 30 calls a day). These animals are taken to the rescue centre, fed and cared for and then, if they are well enough, released again. All dogs are vaccinated against rabies on arrival and some are also vaccinated against parvovirus, distemper and several other viruses. Each employee has well-defined responsibilities and tasks, for instance cleaning cages or the land or the treatment dispensed according to the type of animal. The centre’s vet is usually someone on a mission for several months, based on the principle of exchanging and sharing know-how. Currently there is an American vet on-site who is training another vet from Zambia who has followed theoretical studies in Cuba. The latter is likely to remain at Animal Aid on a permanent basis. Thanks to the regular visits from vets from all around the world, the caregivers constantly improve their methods of treatment, enabling them to give the best possible care to the animals.Over the last few years, Animal Aid has gained visibility thanks to social networks such as Facebook and Instagram, where Claire, the daughter of the family, posts the videos that she has filmed. Every day, tourists passing through the region are able to participate in organised visits to the centre and find out more about it. Several volunteers are currently working there on short, medium or long-term missions. A few figures: 56 employees. Between 20 and 30 calls for rescues per day. 15 to 25 admissions per day. 900 meals served per day. 180 to 200 dogs cared for (released when better) 20 blind dogs (permanent). 80 handicapped dogs (permanent): 40 partially handicapped dogs (permanent). 40 cows and donkeys. 40 birds. Dahlia’s account of her experience as volunteer in March 2016. “A typical day for a volunteer generally starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. Every morning I would join the American vet, who was staying in the same hotel as me, and share a rickshaw to go to the rescue centre. To start with, I would go and say hello to the paralysed dogs, who were delighted to see someone taking notice of them, and stroke them and scratch them behind their ears (which they could no longer do themselves). Then I would give them their food and help those who were too weak to eat by themselves to eat their meal. After that, I would go and see the dogs that were under treatment to take them out of their cages either to go for a walk or just to go somewhere to get some fresh air. I was asked to spend some time with a bitch that wouldn’t let anyone touch her. She was paralysed and had certainly been beaten. After a few hours, a lot of patience and dog biscuits, I was able to stroke her. I also spent several hours with a cow who was dying after an accident. Since cows are sacred in India, euthanasia is forbidden. Coming back to India and giving some of my time was a rewarding experience. Everyone should do some voluntary work at some time in their life as it teaches us humility and how to really appreciate our everyday existence.”