KERALA

Reporter's Diary

Caring for stray dogs

"It may be a stray dog, but it is a live animal. Please don a mask to avoid passing on an infection." The message was a wake-up call for many of the scribes gathered inside the operation theatre at the District Veterinary Centre last week to witness the launch of a project to sterilise stray dogs in the city.

The concern and care with which the stray animals were handled by the surgeons and their assistants touched the hearts of the reporters and cameramen who had crowded into the small room. Every time the dog on the operating table woke up from its drug-induced slumber, soothing hands kept up a soft patting rhythm on the animal's head before the next dose of anaesthetic began to take effect.

"Unlike pets, handling a stray is a different ball game altogether. It is a risky affair for the surgeons and the handlers. The surgery itself involves a great deal of care. One wrong move and the animal could bleed to death from a severed artery," explained Ramkumar, the project adviser.

It goes to the credit of the hospital staff that all the dogs were successfully sterilised in the day- long operation. The animals are now recuperating in a shelter run by an NGO at Kovalam.

Amidst slush and sewage

Contract workers of the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) using push-rods to clear drainage blocks after each rain has become common sight these days. Though the KWA has a couple of suction machines for clearing such blocks, only one is reported to be in a working condition. Moreover, this machine is pressed into service only for `major' blocks. If it is a local problem, the cleaning-up operation is left to the contract workers.

Even though these workers get paid by the KWA for the work that they do, residents' associations or house owners who often request their services are not averse to giving some additional payment of their own for the services of these workers. The main reason of course is that not many, not even those affected by the drainage block, would be prepared to go inside the manholes or stand waist-deep in sewage inserting push-rods into the drainage lines to de-clog them.

Contributed by

T. Nandakumar and

G. Mahadevan

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