Q1-2022

Newsletter Q1 2022

FROM THE EDITOR'S KEN (NEL)

Phew.. I can’t believe I have actually done it. 

Hello and welcome to the all new revival edition of our newsletter. First – allow me to thank you ‘bigly’ (as Trump would put it) for being a huge part of all the work that we do. Putting together a newsletter is a daunting affair, even for the experienced human, yet here I am – a foolhardy ex street dog – but a determined one. So I do hope you will like what you read here – after all don’t they say – “until the lion learns to write every story will glorify the hunter”?

Sunface - The Blue Cross MascotCall me Sunface. I have been called other things – Shoo, Go, Po, Adi, Odu to name a few, each hotly pursued with adjectives that could put a sailor’s tongue to shame. I suffer that nightmare no more, but as some of you who have seen me, know – the marks still remain, the emotional scars are still indelible. But, now I live in a heavenly place called the Blue Cross Of India. In my eight years here, my most harrowing experience was posing to Alamelu for my portrait here. I live a good life, among human angels where time just stops, even as they race against time to bring back from the edge thousands like me.

But this is not a story about me, and so I must start instead, where the latest chapter of my journey began.

BCI Maatu Pongal Day CelebrationsI recall the day vividly – they called it Maatu Pongal – ah! what drama. Bells, garlands, cows, calves, and everyone who was anyone was in action in the front yard. I thought the whole thing was a drag, but Remo was enjoying it – even tried his Bhujangasana hoping that a yoga pose would get him on the front page of The Hindu – what a show off. Doxy however seemed content smelling the colours splattered on the pavement while Sofie pretending to do a headcount of the human lineup, secretly harboured an interest in the garland around the calf. The calf having copiously been supplied all manner of leaves and fruits since the morning had an expression of utter disinterest in all the attention being showered on her, but I digress.

Soon after the gathering broke I was summoned into the boardroom – a very rare occurrence indeed. It had happened only once before – when I was officially conferred the title of the BCI mascot. Though a short sprint up the stairway, I took each step with cautious deliberation not knowing what lay in wait. A few scenarios ran through my tiny head and by the time I reached the top I was convinced I would be chastised for sulking during the aforementioned event. How could I not, with the recently rescued ‘cute’ calf grabbing all the attention. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead of being lectured about how a brand mascot should behave during BCI events, I was surprised beyond words at being thrust upon with a huge responsibility – I was asked to revive the BCI newsletter.

As I had not much of a choice in the matter, and after much pondering, I thought leaning on some history can save me some embarrassment in my muddling. So I got hold of the few editions of our past publications that had somehow eluded the vagaries of time and set about studying them in earnest.

The Animals' Voice 1967For 45 years since 1965 the Blue Cross Of India newsletter had been a fairly regular publication and ran almost without a break until 2010. The Animals’ Voice – the official BCI quarterly magazine, with articles from the animal world was started in 1967. Those were the days of the printing press. Pictured here is the cover of the inaugural issue of the magazine featuring “Junior”, one of the first abandoned “pedigrees” rescued by the BCI. The Animals’ Voice came out every quarter until the end of 1974. As for the newsletter, since 2010 there have only been sporadic issues. That I realised was a really long break and a revival of any sort was going to be more difficult than I first thought and for more reasons than just the time gap.

In this age of information glut, human attention spans are on a race to the bottom and have fast outpaced that of a goldfish – if you don’t believe me – Google it. With social media the new tool, a less frequent and lengthy periodical even if electronic probably looks less worthy. Despite those realities, a few brave attempts were made to revive the newsletter, but none that could sustain.

That brings us here and now and to the wisdom of the board in giving this another go – but this time with a difference – have the animals speak for themselves – and why not! Don’t you agree – maybe they do have a thing or two to say that needs telling.

I thought I should start off with a Thanksgiving toast – to our founding mothers and fathers. What would be more fitting than a comeback issue to recognise the people behind one of the best things to happen for animals in our country, certainly in our city – the founding of the Blue Cross Of India.

The BCI FoundersSo there it is – one picture – the Mount Rushmore of the Blue Cross Of IndiaThey are the reason I am even alive today and the hundreds of thousands of other animals that have had a new lease of life only because this fantastic selfless bunch decided to favour us above all else 58 years ago.

This brings us back to the present situation –  my new challenge. Though born as my species is, with a PhD in human psychology I still need to grapple with writing in a human language and the most challenging of all – getting the others here to send in their own pieces on time to make the deadline. So, I beg your understanding and indulgence as I attempt to muddle through this unusual challenge.

Folks here have done a great deal on the ground since you last heard from us in this format. We do make a good amount of noise on our social media handles, but getting caught up here on all that will be too much for this edition, so I will cover just the big stuff and the recent stuff for now. I do keep a diary though, which I shall lean on every now and then to make sure I do not miss anything important that you should know.

Happy reading!… and don’t forget to sign up to receive this in your email inbox every quarter.

AROUND THE (ANIMAL) WORLD IN 90 DAYS

Making a difference – One street animal at a time

The rescues, birth control surgeries and re-homing by the Blue Cross Of India during the quarter (Jan-Feb-Mar 2022)

Arguably the largest positive impact any single AWO has on the health and well-being of street animals in any city in the world.

 

Street animals in distress – Greater Chennai Area. 

This interactive bubble-o-map shows the number of rescue-requests received/accepted and rescued by the Blue Cross of India from the areas that are in the Greater Chennai Corporation limits (and a few outside) in the last 3 months.

Jan, Feb, March 2022

Rescue Requests Received : 6222
Rescue Requests Accepted : 5339
Actual Rescues : 2880 (54 % of accepted)

Due to capacity limits this quarter BCI was able to only address about 54 % of the rescue requests. With the addition of the Mobile Hospital in March, which is a paradigm shift in the way we operate this is expected to show improvement, but a lot still needs to be done for street animals in the city. 

But there is a much bigger question to be asked. Is the injury, sickness and abuse these hapless street animals suffer not a symptom of a bigger more systemic cause? – The unviable population of street animals.

So what should be our takeaway from this – Of course we continue to treat the symptom as we always do in order to alleviate immediate suffering – but we also should think long term and address the cause by working closely with the government (who hold the mandate) for an effective, efficient animal birth control program – something as simple as ABC.

 

DONATE HERE – If you would like to help more of them

BACK FROM THE BRINK

Great Comeback Stories

With thousands of animals being rescued every quarter, you can imagine what a big challenge it is for me to pick a minuscule percent of these to feature here.

I dedicate this section to myself for my deftness in selecting the candidates below 🙂 ,  our untiring rescuers, animal caregivers, volunteers and last but not the least – the vets, whose above-and-beyond efforts threw them a lifeline,  pulled them from the edge and gave them another paw-hold at life.

DRAMA IN REAL LIFE

Great Rescues

You all know – We are sooooo good at this, that we even help train folks from other animal welfare organisations. Why! –  we even train the Tamilnadu Fire Service on animal rescues. But it all comes from our own discipline. I have seen first hand how hard the team practices to make sure they can pull off the most complex rescues like it was a walk in the park. For want of time and space we can only feature a couple here and it’s always hard to choose which ones, but here are the ones that escaped my new pair of merciless scissors. I dedicate this section to our intrepid team of volunteer rescuers led by none other than the legendary Dawn Willams – himself an ex-black cat. A man who has been the force behind our tactical rescue teams for many years. Literally extracting animals off precarious edges, ledges, pits, sewers and wells to give them another shot at being adventurous all over again 🙂

ANIMAL HOSPITAL-ON-WHEELS

The BCI-Four Paws Mobile Hospital Takes Off

From my dairy: 27th Feb 2022: After all the fuss this morning with six burly volunteers wrestling with a big roll of brown carpet below the aviary steps things suddenly went silent. I knew something was up but I couldn’t put a nose to it. Doxy, Remo and I went into a curious huddle and before I could call dibs on the carpet, we heard a big roar. We broke up and sputtered off like hot popcorn even as a large white vehicle in mint condition rolled atop and occupied the carpet, uninvited of course. 

She had Blue Cross Of India and Four Paws emblazoned all over and animals of all variety had crawled up and occupied the spaces along her sides that had been left white. She broke into a sheepish grin – the kind that one gets from embarrassment on receiving too much attention. But once she noticed us staring, she started to yap like one possessed. Her drivel about how she was about to be crowned the country’s first fully equipped ambulance for on-site treatment of street animals went on and on for ever. When she saw that we were visibly bored,  she switched track and began describing her more parts, and boy was she chatty, leaving nothing to our imagination. 

She talked of the 98 horses she came packed with – this needed no telling as this had been made loud and clear earlier. Of more interest to us were her accessories – an air conditioned and fully equipped operation theatre with an autoclave and refrigerator, on-board oxygen, power inverter, spine board, catching nets and even spacious boarding space for two animals. She drawled on about all her nuts and bolts till we were tired once again. She paused and I hoped she would end her incessant bragging, though from what I saw, there was merit to it. I reckoned it was not the empty tattle that would flow out as effortlessly as a broken faucet from Remo’s mouth. 

But she had only paused for effect. With a big grin, she deployed her retractable awning. We took a full ten steps back as it slowly unfurled to the background of Mozart – and on cue our collective jaws came unhinged. Even as we marvelled at the possibilities that had just been demonstrated she went on to open her side door from which flipped out an outdoor surgery prep table while revealing all the equipment and medicine neatly stacked inside. 

She was magnificent and she was turning heads – She was raring to go places and do things no animal ambulance had done before. She was no ambulance – she was a whole hospital, and she had the moves to prove it.

Mo-Ho in action : The first 30 days

I have great news for the streeties in my city. The Mobile Hospital or MoHo as I like to call her wasn’t after all making lofty claims the day she was flagged off. She has walked her talk, or to be technically accurate – drove to them.

 

Right off the bat, she has made a visible and undeniable impact in her first 30 days in  operation (no pun, though she is equipped to perform ‘operations’ as well)

Just days after the launch, she ganged up with our Paravet Ramachandran to take her to where all the action was. With Vet Dr Silambarasan riding shotgun, in 30 days they clocked 2116 Km in 255 hrs, shaking up the way things get done for my injured, sick or abused brothers and sisters in distress.

Without even a Sunday break, she took them on 203 visits treating 107 street animals in desperate need of aid, often making multiple follow-up visits to treat some of the serious ones. Incredibly, that number is over 7.5% of the number of animals rescued and brought to BCI in March (1420) – and she is just getting started. 

Needless to say she reduced the strain on our hospital that is already bursting at its seams treating around 2000 animals at any time, but leaving it at that would only tell half the story – the human half – this is exactly why you need an animal’s perspective folks, and that’s where yours truly can help.

You cannot even begin to imagine what a difference she has made in the speed of recovery of my brothers and sisters treated this month on the streets. Her on-the-scene action has removed the trauma that animals suffer when brought to a hospital – the stress of dislocation for treatment (even if temporary), the stress of moving from a familiar street full of loved ones they have known since birth and most significantly the stress of an new place full of unfamiliar animals.

A toast to the new flying angel, to Four Paws who made this a reality, to BCI who flawlessly executed this eternal dream of taking healthcare to the doorstep, and most of all to Dr Silambarasan and Ramachandran who thought of nothing but to alleviate the suffering of my brethren. May we have many more flying angels.

DONATE HERE -Fund the running costs of our next Mobile Hospital. A new MoHo is being added as early as this May.

ADOPTIONS

Someone please inform the postal service – we have moved.

Cleo now takes care of Ms. Rabbeqa at No. 786, Road to Heaven, Chetput, Chennai

Sallie is managing Mr. Prabhu from her new residence at No. 77, God’s Avenue, Shollinganallur, Chennai

(real addresses are masked as Cleo and Sallie specifically requested me for some privacy)

The Indie pup who grew up

Meet Akshay and his little brother from another mother – Rambo. In 2008, Akshay adopted Rambo-the-pup from the Blue Cross Of India. I was not even born then, and it’s likely not even my mother was. Rambo is now almost 15 and we had Akshay – an old volunteer visit us a few weeks back. We asked him to share his experience in his own words.

My innate love for animals led me to frequent the Blue Cross dating back many years. I loved spending my time with the voiceless souls. Though voiceless, I felt that the little ones were more expressive than humans who even with a voice are often unable to use it meaningfully. They were able to speak volumes with just a look. My parents taught me to be kind to animals, especially community dogs, and even as a child I would feed the dogs in our street with biscuits and food from home. This love for dogs kindled my desire to get a dog for myself and I decided to adopt a pup from Blue Cross in 2008 and chose one from the lot. I named him Rambo after the movie – which was still a rage then, even after 26 years. Within a few weeks Rambo was toilet trained and was able to convey this with his own quirky mannerisms and within a few days he would shake hands, sit down when commanded to, would give a high-five when asked for, he would search and fetch hidden things and all in the household would have a lot of fun with him. He changed our routine monotonous life to a much more meaningful one. I started a routine of going for early morning walks with him, weekends to the beach and generally a lot of fun with friends and family.

My weekends are spent taking him for a ride in either my bike or car, which he really enjoys. He expresses his excitement when I ask him “car le polaamaa” (shall we go in the car). The love and affection that he showers on me has made me a different person. I look forward to seeing his expectant face and happiness when I am back from work, which takes away all the stress from the hectic life that we live in. His presence in our life makes us feel happy, secure, and generally very comforting. At times I enjoy solitude with just Rambo and me walking in silence on the beach, the feeling is priceless and takes me to another world.

I gave Rambo a home. He has given me so much more – being a great inspiration to visit Blue Cross more frequently, to take part in a lot of rescue activities saving many lives, and to speak to people and encourage them to adopt, instead of shopping for the latest designer breeds, only to discard them and shop again when the fashion changes.

Rambo has been a great inspiration for my friends and relatives to adopt Indies instead of purchasing expensive so called ‘pedigrees’, and struggling to keep them healthy in an environment that is not suited for them. I advise my friends who are thinking of adopting dogs to pick one from the streets or neighbourhood and give them a home and companionship. A dog is the best companion a man can get. Therefore, people out there please do not have a second thought about adoption, be it from BCI or from other shelters – there are thousands of helpless orphaned pups out there looking for a home – make one of them your Rambo.” – Akshay Balaji

Thank you Akshay, for the heartwarming story, and thank you for picking an Indie. Here is my take: The average life expectancy of an Indian street dog as per most studies is 6 years. By those standards Rambo has outlived his streetie brothers and sisters by a factor if more than 2. But Rambo’s longevity is no outlier, it’s no surprise what a stress free loving home can do. Right off the bat, we Indies are hardy animals, as our traits and genes are a result of natural selection, by definition making us healthier than the engineered dogs bred to have ‘traits’ that humans find ‘useful’ or ‘attractive’ and pay tens of thousands of rupees to acquire, then force them to live in environments not suited to their chassis. Our undoing is street life in a metropolis. It takes its toll – scraping for food, dodging vehicles and abusers with equal dexterity and living in uncertainty is mentally traumatic and physically stressful. I know it, I have lived it and it still haunts me. So if you are looking for a friend, we Indies are as good as they get. Try us. 

OUR ARCHANGELS

Animal Care-Givers Of The Month

Eight years back I was still a streetie scraping out a living. Out on the streets, there were a few good folks and a few bad folks, but mostly just indifferent ones. I would sometimes imagine what it would be like if animals, not humans, were the centre of the world. An idea so insane and absurd, I would soon dismiss it with a good laugh. 

That was before I came to BCI. Here everything is topsy-turvy – here it is us – ‘the animals’ that hold court. 

We are smothered with so much love here, it is sometimes too much. Teeming as it is with so many doting angels, there are some that stand out. Some that have turned taking care of animals into a religion, giving new meaning to the word ‘humanity’.

Here is my tribute to our archangels for this quarter.

VISITING ANGELS

Volunteers Of The Month

How does a dog like me keep time.. we hire humans. We know when the weekend arrives. The familiar smells return, some more familiar than others, some more regular than others. They come with no fanfare, do what they do best and leave as quietly as they arrive. Let that not fool you though – they do have expectations.

The loving gaze of gratitude and affection they get from us.

The one look that makes their day – why perhaps for some, the whole week even. Of course with nearly two thousand animals, it is quite easy for us to dole out any number of impeccably cute, beseeching glances that could melt the strongest of hearts.

Talking of volunteers I would be remiss if I did not admit that many of them come to BCI just so they can see me, and there is little I can do about it – what with my handsome face, vivacious behaviour and what do you humans call it – animal magnetism. But I digress, a dog’s gotta’ do what he has been asked to, so here are my picks for the volunteer of the months for Dec, Jan and Feb.

And if you would like to come hang with at the shelter and help us out with all the ‘human’ things needed to get done please sign up here. We have a whole lot of onsite (Chennai) and remote volunteering opportunities and would be thrilled to have you in our next induction – let get in some new smells, people.

THIS, THAT AND OTHER ANIMAL MATTERS

It is summer and ‘Project Quench’ – the Street Animal Water Bowl project is back

The Blue Cross Of India Water Bowl Project has been an annual initiative for several decades.

By quenching the thirst of street animals in the unforgiving heat of the summer, we prevent death from dehydration of hundreds of street animals and birds in Chennai city.

Putting out a water bowl in your neighbourhood (either picked from BCI or your own) for these furred and feathered friends is your chance to help them get through the season.

The bowls from BCI are made of cement using local potters and can hold up to four litres of water. They are painted using lead-free colours within our campus by volunteers.

Yup! I agree…crappy handwriting – I cd hv done a better job eyes closed

The bowls can be picked up from our Guindy Shelter for a small donation that covers the cost.

How can you help:

If you are in Chennai:
Donate Rs.130 and pick a water bowl for free to place near your home or office.
-Donate paints, brushes to make more bowls
-Volunteer at our shelter to paint them

If you are not in Chennai:
Donate for bowls and we will place them on your behalf in locations without water sources and have a local volunteer keep them filled.

Spread the word and join us on ‘Project Quench’.

Meet our new greeter

From my diary 23rd Sep 2021: 7AM and I was at my routine good-morning station by the gate as the early morning rescue teams clocked-in. Ever since she joined us last year, Doxy was a regular accomplice on my morning adventures. Today she seemed a bit off, ears perked and holding a steady low growl of disapproval. Clearly she smelt something that I didn’t (actually couldn’t – as some of you know I have some missing anatomy, thanks to a nice butcher who was just having a bad day). Hadn’t she done this before. Was it what I thought it was – It always happened at this hour. Oh! No! I said to myself – not another one, just as Ganesh, one of our rescue drivers walked in with him. A yellow leash hung from his neck – another abandoned dog tied to the tree outside our gates – fifth one this month, and I know I can count. 

‘Wooooo..’ he went – the tone of fear writ on all the vowels, even as he was whisked away into the clinic for a workup. Later that afternoon he ambled over as I lay on a heavy stomach and matching eyelids. The ‘Woo’ this time was a happy one. Though confused about why he was where he was, his eyes told me he knew he was safe. He looked foreign, at least partly St Bernard was the general opinion of my comrades in paws, but who cared. 

That’s Woo. I was briefly jealous of all the attention he was getting, but I got over it soon as it never went to his head. Docile as a capybara, he got along well with everyone and his resonant call sign ‘Woo’ was so compelling that I had no choice but to succumb to pressure and appoint him the new ‘greeter’. 

PS: He totally deserved to be the new greeter and he sure is page 3 material as you can see from his super-hit social media interview last December. 

THE ANIMAL CALENDAR

Celebrating life – Preserving the endangered – Bringing Awareness

We animals lead such a busy life, our calendars are full. Go ahead and get yourself an appointment on our calendars to know and learn more about us.

Click here to download the High Res Self Printable Blue Cross Of India – Animal Calendar and get to know more about the 67 different animal days celebrated around the world using QR codes..

January 2022
February 2022
March 2022
31st Jan 

Int ZEBRA Day
14th Feb 

World BONOBO day
3rd Mar 

World Wildlife day
 
 
15th Feb 

World HIPPO day
20th Mar 

World SPARROW day
 
 
3rd Sat of Feb

World PANGOLIN day
20th Mar 

World FROG day
 
 
3rd Sun of Feb

World WHALE day
22nd Mar 

Int SEAL day
 
 
27th Feb 

Int POLAR BEAR day
23rd Mar 

World BEAR day
DONATION APPEALS

The Blue Cross Of India has been serving the voiceless for the last over 58 years mainly through donations from generous individuals like you. BCI is the first animal welfare organisation in India to be awarded the Guidestar Platinum Rating for transparency in 2013-14 and every year since – a stamp of assurance. 

Your donations are used in the most transparent and frugal manner for animal welfare, with minimal administrative expenses. The guidestar rating helps potential donors make a well informed decision based on an objective assessment of how donations are put to work by BCI. Learn More…

We thank you for your kindness and generous contributions that help the BCI take good care of us year after year. 

(Donations are eligible for 80G tax exemption – Make sure you mention your PAN No)

Desperately seeking ‘Stable’ ity

A little secret. I know Horse code. 

Nooo, NOT Morse code. I said horse – I can understand horses. 

It was a Sunday morning and I was in my usual state of self inflicted stupor from a heavy breakfast. With great difficulty I had ambled to a shady spot by the stables and dropped down like a sack of potatoes when I heard the voice. It was Jack, the stunning white stallion and the self appointed stables manager. He never speaks up, but then again that is what qualifies him to be the team leader of the equines. As you probably know, horses are amongst the gentlest of species and are extremely smart and social. At first I thought he was mumbling to himself about how popular he was on Instagram, and let it go, but when it did not stop for a long time I pried open my obstinate eyelids. I noticed that it was a full on town hall, with all 18 of them in attendance and Jack was at the tail end of this winding speech. 

Finally when Jack was done talking, everyone broke out in mumbles. Jerome, the loudest mumbler went, “Chief – I know we gotta be social and all, but methinks asking for our own Facebook page is pushing it too far”. 

Beauty with a long Irish Sport Horse ancestry chuckled, “even the most popular of us here – Sunny face who dozes yonder dern’t hv his oun page”.

Jack responded in resignation “Oh.. k’ – fine.. So what is it that you need now, I have been summoned to the boardroom this afternoon, and I need to justify whatever you ask for”.

Ol’ Bailey bellowed in his signature deep voice “Air conditioning, that’s what we need, and a larger shed. Look at this line up – we used to be 6, now we are 18 – it’s not even April and already getting hot – when it’s full blown and we all need to get under here – there is not even enough standing room – I know we all can sleep standing but I am old – need to stretch out once in a while.

And look at all these holes in the roof and walls – they are not going to mend themselves and all you can think of is Facebook likes – Don’t be an ass Jack – show some leadership.”

“Ok Ok – ol’ man, I always respect your horse sense but there is no need to be nippy. Last time we asked to raise the level of the paddock and kindhearted Mr Mahtaney of the Park Hyatt sent over seventy truck loads to fill up. Can’t be needy all the time. And did I hear air conditioning – get off your high horse will ya’. I will put in a request to expand the shed and get the roof replaced, and if they are in a good mood, they may throw in some insulation on top. You guys must learn to live with what you have now – don’t ever forget this is paradise compared to where we all came from…. Dismissed!”  – signed off Jack with a sharp neigh, unusually angry and abrupt. 

The gang stared at the ground uneasy and slowly drifted off, as did my eyes in sympathy.

So, there – You heard it straight from the horse’s mouth – they need your help. 

I set up a fundraising campaign on their behalf to raise money to double the stable capacity and get insulation roofing done. Help us get there before the full wrath of the sun gets unleashed on us here in Chennai, I have it on good rumour that it’s going to be one ugly summer. 

PLEASE MAKE OUR STABLE A HAPPENING PLACE

Make Memories with Blue Cross Of India


Maybe it is it your Birthday
A Memory of someone close – a pet, a person
Perhaps your Anniversarry needs a celebration
Or you want to Honour your departed
You care about someone special and want to give a Surprise
Maybe you reached a personal or work Milestone
Or would like to Dedicate to someone you love 

Whatever it be, make it a memory that 2000 animals will be grateful for and bless you with their stomach’s full.

The selfless gratitude of an animal – priceless……
                 ……..for everything else – there is Mastercard 
(or Visa or whatever other plastic floats your boat)

 

PLEASE FEED US ON YOUR SPECIAL DAY – MAKE IT EXTRA SPECIAL

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