Dog maa of Coimbatore cares for canines

Dog maa of Coimbatore cares for canines

Dog maa of Coimbatore cares for canines

Fourteen-year-old Jimmy, which was poisoned and abandoned, was rescued by Geetha Rani, who is known  as the "Dog Lady" of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, and for very good reason. 

She is not only taking care of stray dogs but also loves abandoned canines, which are being neglected by their owners. The 68-year-old woman, who is a shining example of care and compassion, takes care of more than 300 abandoned dogs at her own cost in Snehalaya Animal Shelter at Selvapuram Road in Coimbatore.

“I am finding secure homes for the stray, abandoned, abused animals that are on the streets, which include those that were injured in road accidents,” says Geetha.

She regrets that many people hit the dog with sticks, stones and machetes, and use iron rods or kill them with knives. “Some heartless people even throw boiling water on dogs as well as poison them,” she said.  Geetha carries a bottle of antidote in her vehicle whenever she receives information that a dog is in distress on the street.

Section 11 of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, as amended from time to time, provides that if any person beats, kicks, overrides, over-drives, over-loads, tortures or otherwise treats any animal so as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering, he shall be punishable with fine and/or imprisonment.

“Most people are unaware of this Act and that is why they indulge in such cruel activities,” she said.  Geetha is assisted by  driver Balanwho is also an animal lover. “We have a van designed for animal rescue. Balan and I would go around the city in the van. As soon as we get a call to rescue an injured animal, we rush to the spot regardless of what time it is. If the injury is severe, the animal is taken to a veterinary doctor before it is brought to this shelter home.” She adds, “When people go on transfer or relocate homes, they are unable to take their pets due to objection from the house owners or flat owners. We bring such animals and take care of them.”

Armed with four female workers, Geetha cooks different kinds of food every day for dogs. “The dogs like boiled rice and vegetables with chicken, pork and fish toppings for taste. We bathe them regularly. We also ensure pure drinking water for them,” Balan said.

According to Balan, the animal shelter is cleaned and sanitised daily. Food and water bowls are cleaned regularly. "A veterinarian visits once a week and new rescued dogs are examined for general health and well-being,” he said. Dogs are socialised – new dogs' behaviour is assessed prior to showing them to potential adopters. Geetha's animal shelter has 30 good breed puppies, which are ready for adoption. Regularly, Geetha and her team, who hate calling them dogs, apply powder and medicine to deworm and keep them free from ticks and fleas. She calls them (dogs) her children.

Over the years, Geetha has been able to get more dogs spayed and neutered. She provides antibiotics to sick dogs . Geetha's favourite is dog Kajol. Kajol's previous owner let him on the street, which is common in Tamil Nadu. Kajol was hit by a car and suffered injuries. Now, Kajol accompanies Geetha during her trips.

A native of Kerala, Geetha's family moved to Coimbatore when she was a child. The idea of starting a shelter home for the abandoned dogs started when Geetha was just a child. “I was born to parents who were not from the same caste,” she recollects. This made it difficult for children in her family to accept her. Geetha also remembers how she was isolated by cousins.

Her family owned more than 10 dogs then. Geetha spent most of her childhood playing with the dogs in the farm-land owned by her family. The dogs loved her unconditionally and literally filled up the gaps that her relatives could not.

It was at that young age she developed a strong liking for dogs and she made up her mind that she will do something for them. Geetha, who was employed in Canara Bank, gave up the job due to a fire mishap. She started living with her pets.

Geetha's two children--a son and a daughter-- are well settled and help her to get funds for the animal shelter. “Besides, she earns interest on her deposits and retirement benefits,” she said.

“I also receive some amount from animal lovers,” she said. Since Snehalaya is currently operating from a rented premises, Geetha is seeking donations to buy a land and build a permanent shelter.

Apart from donations, Snehalaya also accepts rice, biscuits, milk, shampoo, soap, chews, bites, powder, medicines, collar, chains/leashes, food bowls and other pet-related articles.

The journey has, however, not been an easy one for Geetha. She has had to face a lot of hurdles in her path, right from finding a good landlord, friendly neighbours and well-wishers who are ready to do timely help in  crucial times.

Recently, noted writer and short film director Vijayanand in Tamil Nadu, produced a 25-minute short film -- Gnamali. This short movie was recorded live at Snehalaya shelter for abandoned dogs and it was released on World Stray Animals Day (April 4) this year.  Geetha said that since this short-film went viral, the number of calls that she receives to rescue dogs has increased by several folds. “My children keep me going and they make me happy,” Geetha said. “Animals have the right to livelihood in this beautiful world in their respective homes,” she says.

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