Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences Univ’s Madras Veterinary College to set up an emergency rescue unit

The Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University’s (TANUVAS) Madras Veterinary College will soon have a Veterinary Emergency Rescue Unit (VERU), which will go a long way in animal rescue and rehabilitation during disasters.

R. Prabakaran, vice-chancellor, TANUVAS, said the University was working in collaboration with National Disaster Management Authority and World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) to make the centre operational by October. This will be the second such unit set up by a veterinary college in the country, with the first one being in Bihar Veterinary College.

“Once established it can train members of the National Disaster Response Force on animal rescue as well,” he said.

Gajendra K. Sharma, country director, WSPA, said the Uttarakhand disaster had been an eye-opener for everyone. “Awareness about animal rescue has come only in the past few years. This is a step in the right direction,” he said.

K. M. Singh, member, National Disaster Management Authority, said animal rescue must acquire a major space in the national response plan and identified the community, administration, research institutions, corporate sector, NGOs and media as the six stakeholders who need to be involved in changing mindsets.

S. Chinny Krishna, vice-chairman, Animal Welfare Board of India said most of the animals that die during a disaster are those which are tied or chained.

“When animals are free they have a sixth sense,” he said, adding that when it comes to rescue, it is never humans versus animals. “Both can be handled together,” he said

Experts said while measures of preparedness should include creation of a fodder bank at a height amd untying the animal when there is an early disaster warning, post-disaster, it was important to give living animals shelter, fodder and water and clear the bodies of dead animals to prevent an outbreak of disease.

A.K. Sinha, senior research officer, National Disaster Management Authority, and S.A. Asokan, dean, Madras Veterinary College also participated in a one-day national symposium on ‘Veterinary emergency response during disaster’ held at the institute.

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