Owners of dogs will no longer be able to push in dogs and puppies through the compound wall of Mad Dogs Trust in Veli, Fort Kochi. They knew that the animals would be taken care of better than in their homes.

The NGO is all set to exit Kerala, taking along two dozen dogs and puppies, a few kittens and a parrot. A pall of gloom has descended on its rented house which saw hundreds of stray and owned dogs being tended to, vaccinated and sterilised. The animals and the parrot seem to have got a clue of the patrons planning to relocate them to Mumbai, after an eventful five-year stay in the coastal heritage town.

Materials are being packed and the NGO's jeep with Dalmatians and other dogs peeping out of the windows will no more be a familiar sight in the streets of the locality. On Tuesday, volunteers from the Sree Ramanugrah Trust in Andheri, Mumbai, will arrive with a bus to take along the dogs and other animals.

All through these years, the Mad Dogs Trust saw to it that animals under its care enjoyed freedom and happiness. For this reason, no animal was chained. Still, the place is en epitome of peaceful co-existence – no fights among dogs and cats, the big dogs ‘giving way' to pups….

The NGO founded by Penny Shepherd from the U.K. and her late husband Brian Shepherd sensitised the people about the cruelty being meted out to animals, especially dogs. “I feel a whole weight lifting from my shoulders since it was a great responsibility to take care of the dogs. Though emotionally down, I feel a tremendous relief at relocating from here,” said Ms Shepherd, who is saddened at having to leave for the U.K. from Fort Kochi.

While most of the dogs will go to Mumbai, a few will fly to Germany.

“And they are frantically learning German,” she said in a lighter vein. And what will the ducks do? “They will join their peers in the nearby backwaters.”

Everyone does not feel the same for animals and hence they are treated cruelly, she said. Recently, around 350 dogs went missing in West Kochi alone. Many of them were killed by civic agencies.

But what made the NGO to leave Fort Kochi. “We were pained at dogs being killed, despite our efforts to keep them healthy.” There was also opposition from some quarters to a foreigner running a charity here. But she remembers the care and love of her children in London, her friends worldwide and neighbours in Fort Kochi, who supported the trust.

Wearing a T-shirt with the message, ‘The dogs are friendly, beware the owner' was the director of the trust Abdul Qayoom from Kashmir. Once the trust closes its office here, he intends to go back to Kashmir to join Dr Shabir who takes care of leopards, bears, horses and other animals.

“We are not closing our activities, only relocating to Kashmir with the surgical and other equipment for dogs,” Mr Qayoom said. After returning to the U.K., Ms Penny intends to raise funds for the trust. Accompanying her will be the two Dalmatians that escorted her to Kochi in 2007.

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