Friendicoes-SECA—A Caring & Compassionate Home-cum-Hospital
Care and compassion are traits portrayed in every act of Friendicoes-SECA, a Society for Eradication of Cruelty to Animals. This shelter-cum-hospital in New Delhi is housing a host of homeless, lost and abandoned furry friends, which consist of farm animals as well, but dogs of course outnumber them all. Around 1,100 dogs have found their home at Friendicoes-SECA Lifetime Care Sanctuary or City Shelter. –by Jyaneswar Laishram
Amanda D Seth, President and Geeta Seshamani, Vice President, Friendicoes-SECA
Over the last 40 years, Friendicoes-SECA has been Delhi’s most beloved shelter for stray and sick animals of all kinds. “We shelter dogs and cats, as well as farm animals such as horses, mules, goats, pigs and goats. Our clientele consists of a chunk of pet parents from all walks of life. They would include either a street person with a goat or a tonga wala and his horse or someone with an injured street dog,” says Amanda D Seth, President, Friendicoes-SECA.
As on today, the shelters of Friendicoes-SECA house a total population of 2,500 animals including farm animals and of course, dogs being the largest group around 1,100. “Our Gurugram Lifetime Care Facility has 740 dogs, New Delhi shelter-cum-hospital has 200 at any given time and at least 100 at each of our five Animal Birth Control Centers,” mentions Geeta Seshamani, Vice President, Friendicoes-SECA. “And they all need feeding, care and medication.”
Every patient counts
Every day Friendicoes-SECA receives between 100 and 200 patients, depending on the season, at its Delhi centre. “They are out patients. Besides that, we have our indoor patient facility where we keep the animals picked up from the streets in answer to distress calls and brought in by our ambulances as well as those who were abandoned near the park, under the vehicles, tied to the benches near our Defence Colony shelter in New Delhi,” tells Dr Amit.
Distress calls received by Friendicoes-SECA on any given day are of 65 to 70 and it requires a team of five people at the reception to deal with it, keeping track of the animals being brought in by the public. “We have more than 200 staff at all our centres, which include 11 vets and thrice the number as para-vets and others such as drivers, cooks, kennel boys, dog catching squad, etc,” mentions Geeta, adding that in terms of footfalls, they have 23,000 to 25,000 animals pass through their hands annually as they also receive animals to care for, at their Lifetime Care Facility in Gurugram, where Friendicoes-SECA has a hospital with an outpatient facility for dogs and a separate clinic and surgery for cats.
Friendicoes-SECA receives helps in form of grants from different quarters. “Thanks to the generosity of DLF Foundation that offered a grant to facelift three of our outpatient clinics at our Defence Colony hospital-cum-shelter, today our new diagnostic path lab is fully equipped with state-of-the-art machines, again courtesy of DLF Foundation,” says Geeta. She adds that their patients get the privilege of specialised diagnostic tests and wider choice of drugs.
On the latest developments, Amanda says the new path lab at Friendicoes-SECA is doing well as blood tests, X-ray and ultrasound machines are now available on the spot. “We finally could arrange all these facilities here under one roof. Earlier, we faced a lot of problems as pet parents were bound to run to other places after their pets were examined by our doctors due to lack of facilities here. That’s very stressful for the pets even more so for street dogs. That’s why we decided to consolidate every facility under our roof,” she informs.
Since they run shelters and hospitals, engage in diverse activities including animal birth control programmes, adoption drives, mobile clinic for equines, which they are running since 1984 without a break, Friendicoes-SECA is in desperate need for generating adequate funds. “Sudden difficult situations happen which require Friendicoes-SECA to respond irrespective of their financial situation. “In 2013, 51 thoroughbred mares had to be rescued from Aligarh; or a shelter closes down and the animals are sent to Friendicoes-SECA,” says Amanda, adding, “Just recently, one of the government colonies has been pulled down at Netaji Nagar in Delhi, several injured dogs have lost their limbs, some their lives and all are confused and bewildered. So, we suddenly had to pull out all our resources to start regular feeding of the dogs, putting out water bowls, and treating injuries. A group of kind people are working with us to help these animals survive the wreckage of their homes. These are the people who are long-standing volunteers and when needed come back to work with Friendicoes-SECA.”
One of the major challenges of Friendicoes-SECA is undoubtedly of space, followed by funds for maintaining costs of food, medicines and vehicle fuel. “We would like to let the public understand that we have limited resources. Many people assume that we are a wealthy organisation, so that everything from treatments for street dogs to surgeries should be done free of charge—this is another real challenge, making people understand how we work hard for every penny we raise and how difficult it is when medicine costs and food prices spiral. That’s why we continuously and without shame have to ask again and again for grants, only because our animals and our staff are dear to us, we want them to have quality care,” asserts Geeta.
Amanda observes that the number of pet parents adopting cats has been increasing over the years. Friendicoes-SECA has completed a huge, extremely delightful cat shelter with a clinic and surgery facility at their Gurugram facility. “We have received a generous grant for the facility where sheltered over 100 cats. Our adoption drive of cats and kittens has also gone up proportionately,” mentions Amanda, adding “In our Delhi shelter too we have created a miniature cat shelter where abandoned cats, those recovered from surgery, mended broken limbs and recuperated after overcoming any illness, can safely play and bond with each other. Hopefully quite a few get adopted”
Those cats who don’t find adopters at the Defence Colony miniature cat shelter in New Delhi, are sent to Cat Mahal, a lifetime care feline sanctuary in Gurugram. “Since last year we stepped up our cat spay and neuter programme for the public. Many young people spearhead this project. For example, JNU campus has Udita and many of you know Aaron D’silva, who rescues cats in Delhi. With them we have done spaying of over 1000 cats just this year,” mentions Amanda.
Friendicoes-SECA keeps accelerating their rescue mission. Last year saw a big rise in the rescue of equines, ponies, mules and donkeys. “Some years are like this… we received over 30 such animals. One rescue still stands out in my mind—four blind mules running down the DND Flyover connecting Delhi and Noida; I applaud our boys who did the rescue at the risk of their lives in traffic,” narrates Geeta. Sometimes, the rescue team of Friendicoes-SECA wakes up to find a truckload of elderly horses landing up unwanted by a riding club! Or we rescue a pregnant donkey hit and run bundled up in a sack thrown in the garbage. “We receive animals from Chandigarh, Meerut, Moradabad and have had a cat flown in from Mumbai,” Amanda mentions.
Love beyond compare
When asked about the changing habits of pet parents, Geeta finds that things haven’t changed much in the basic attitude of pet parents to their pets. She comments, “There has always been either an over emotional attachment to pets, and/or a complete lack of responsibility among pet parents and various degrees in between. Perhaps working in an animal shelter has made me cynical about pet parents but never about the pets themselves.”
Geeta states, “The purity and warmth of a dog’s loyalty, an animal’s love, is unequalled in my book… it’s a privilege. I value highly that I can be everyday at our shelters and hospitals, amongst animals… and I am always grateful to the Lord above for having designed my life so beautifully that I have had 40 years and more, loving them. Each year my admiration for the honesty of a dog deepens even as my inability to find the same in people increases…it’s really true that the best teacher one can have is a dog,”
Friendicoes-SECA has set some future development plans. Of them, Geeta says they are primarily planning to increase the reach of the Animal Birth Control Programme, which will include cats in it. In addition, they are also planning to increase veterinary facilities, shelters and facilities in rural areas where they are not yet covered. “We are planning to introduce a few mobile dog clinics to reach first aids onsite to animals and not have people bringing every dog to the shelters,” mentions Geeta, adding that it will create interventions, making it possible for people to care for street pets where they are.
Also in the next-step plans of Friendicoes-SECA is the set up of new adoption homes, making the present count from two to at least four. Geeta was once asked whether she could save every animal, her response was, “No! But I can at least ensure the animal who reaches my door is not refused care, food and shelter.” She conclusively says this will always be a part of whatever next step Friendicoes-SECA team plans.