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Flooded India's "biggest" pet rescue operation in Kerala



  Dog rescued in Kerala

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Shravan Krishnan

Caption

Many domestic dogs have been rescued from flooded homes

When the rescuers in India's flooded southern state of Kerala reached a flooded hut in the town of Thrissur, the couple living there refused to leave without their 25 dogs.

The water rose and the dogs huddled on a single bed. The rescuers had arrived on boats, and Sunitha, who used only one name, told them she and her husband would not leave without their stray and abandoned pets.

"Our neighbors were taken to neighboring schools and camps Workers said we could not bring our dogs to the relief camp," she said.

So the workers went back and registered with an animal rescue group.

Sally Varma of the Humane Society International told the BBC that their volunteers arrived soon and made sure that the dogs were taken to a special shelter.

Ms. Varma said she has launched a fundraiser for the family and their pets so that a kennel could be built after the flood

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Nearly 400 people died in the worst floods Kerala has experienced in a century. Thousands remain stranded.

More than a million people have been displaced, many of whom have found shelter in thousands of relief camps across the state.

It is striking, however, how hundreds of animals are rescued in the affected areas.

On Facebook, Shravan Kumar told the story of 1

8 dogs rescued from a house in the town of Kottayam near a swollen backwater.

In one of the largest animal rescue operations during a natural disaster in India, hundreds of volunteers and animal rescue workers have traveled to the flood-affected areas.

Social media is flooded with dramatic rescue videos: a rescuer takes out his life jacket and lays it on a labrador so he can swim on higher ground; soaked dogs from flooded houses and kennels; and land boats and dinghies that bring dogs, goats and cats to safety.

Rescuers waded through water and traveled on boats and rafts to treat, feed and rescue hundreds of animals – dogs, cats, goats, cows, cattle, ducks and even snakes – as the water receded. Trucks with animal feed and medicines reach affected districts.

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Humane Society International

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Animal rescue workers used dinghies to rescue dogs

Some animals were transferred to shelters and others to higher elevations. A number of animal rescue helplines have been set up and rescuers use WhatsApp and social media to respond to calls.

"We receive more than 100 calls a day via our helpline, and the number of animals that have moved to higher ground and rescued must be in hundreds," said Anand Shiva of Kerala Animal Rescue.

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When the tide rose, most people fortified their pets and animals and went or were rescued. When they reached the shelter, they collapsed and told rescue workers that they had left their pets behind.

photo copyright
Shravan Krishnan

Caption

Many dogs were tethered and abandoned before being rescued

"That became a problem, so many tethered animals were drowning, these animals are natural swimmers, and it's better to keep them free to swim to higher ground," NG Jayasimha of Humane Society International, the more Only in Thrissur did rescuers find 200 cattle tied up in small dwellings in people's homes before they were untied and taken to higher areas.

Kerala is estimated to have one million dogs and one-third of them are free-roaming strays.

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AFP

More than 23,000 people were bitten by dogs in 2015 and nearly half of them became ill with rabies.

Animal welfare groups had complained that the municipalities and the angry citizens had been poisoned, beaten, shot and electrocuted to control their populations.

"But there is a real love for dogs in the state, as opposed to public perception, otherwise we would not have found so many dogs in people's homes," said Jayasimha.

More than 8,000 cattle, calves and buffaloes, 3,297 goats and 47 dogs died in the flood.


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