International Animal Rescue (IAR)

International Animal Rescue (IAR): Rescuing animals fpr betterment

When the Tsunami disaster struck south east Asia, it wrought havoc with the lives of millions of people and animals. IAR acted immediately and sent help to the south of Tamil Nadu, the area worst hit by the devastation. The IAR team helped a lot of animals in distress. To help the stray animal population, International Animal Rescue (IAR) is running animal rescue and rehabilitation centres in India. With their head office in Uckfield, East Sussex, UK, they have their rescue centres in Goa, Tamil Nadu and Agra, as well as in Malta.

History of the organisation

Founded by John and Jo Hicks, International Animal Rescue (IAR) started their project in Saligao (Goa) in 1998. The aim of the organisation in Goa and Tamil Nadu is to bring the population of stray dogs and cats under control by implementing an extensive ABC (Animal Birth Control) programme. The Agra rescue centre rehabilitates the dancing bears rescued from India in the Agra Bear Sanctuary while the Malta centre operates a bird rescue hospital to promote awareness among people for a humane treatment of birds, especially migratory ones, and animals.

Infrastructure of IAR – Goa

IAR – Goa is today based in Assagao (between Mapusa and Vagator), with a purpose-built veterinary centre with facilities such as kennels with space for approximately 90 dogs, cattery, puppy pens, surgery and OPD (Out Patient Dispensary). More recently, they have added space to accommodate other animals like cattle, snakes, monkey, birds and other wildlife.

Facilities at IAR – Goa

There are 5 qualified vets at the centre under the leadership of Veterinary Director Astrid Almeida and around 200 dogs and 80 cats are being sterilised every month. After catching the dogs, they are operated and treated at the centre until they are fit to be released back in the area from where they were picked up. After the operation, each dog is fitted with a blue IAR collar and their ear clipped and numbered, so they can be identified. Furthermore, all dogs are vaccinated against rabies before being released.

This serves a dual purpose. Once castrated, the dogs do not fight over the female dogs and as a result, less dogs suffer from maggot wounds and other injuries sustained in fights. By spaying the females, the number of puppies born is reduced and therefore there are less stray dogs.

Milestones of IAR – Goa

Since its inception, IAR has approximately sterilised over 12,000 dogs and with 2,50,000 stray dogs in Goa, there is still a long way to go. The OPD treats around 400 animals every month, including dogs, cats, pigs and goats. Occasionally, the centre becomes a temporary home for exotic wildlife such as pythons and monkeys who have either been injured or have been rescued from a life in captivity. These animals are typically brought in by the Forest Department and once treated these animals are handed back to them to be released back in to the wild. IAR spreads awareness on how to help (i.e. what to do when a sick or injured animal is spotted in the street) and exploitation of animals for profit. They have also developed a new visitor area at the centre in Assagao, displaying information on the work and showing films about the work done in Goa and about the bear sanctuary in Agra. Visitors at the centre are also given the opportunity to take a few dogs for a walk and play with the puppies.

Awareness is also being raised about the growing problem of visitors adopting a ‘holiday pet’ only to abandon the animal once the holiday is over. Having been looked after and fed (often these animals are puppies and kittens) makes the animal unable to settle back into the environment and survive and the result is large number of suffering animals during the monsoon months. The aim is not however to discourage visitors from paying any attention to the animals but about finding the right balance.

They also publish a magazine Animal Tracks, which features the campaigns and projects undertaken by IAR, and the latest developments on rehabi-litation and rescue programmes by the rescue centres.

(More info can be had from IAR, Animal Tracks, Murdungo Vaddo, Assagao, Bardez, Goa, Ph: 0832 2268328 or UK – International Animal Rescue, Lime House, Regency Close, Uckfield, East Sussex, TN22 1DS, Ph: 01825 767 688, www.iar.org.uk)

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