On October 11, Dawn Williams, Manager in Residence, and two Blue Cross ambulances rushed to the scene of an accident involving a truck overloaded with 18 cattle.
The truck illegally transporting the 18 cattle from Andhra Pradesh got into an accident 35 kilometers (21 miles) north of Chennai in the industrial area, Maraimalainagar.
Sadly, two cattle had been killed and nine were injured. All the cattle were in severe distress due to the way in which they had been tied up.
The critically-injured driver and three other injured people had already been taken to the hospital when the Blue Cross team arrived at the scene.
They set to work assisting the cattle, removing the ropes, and lowering the animals to the ground, one by one.
Mr. Dan Phillip, a generous supporter of Blue Cross, arrived to help, and stayed with the team until late afternoon. All the surviving cattle were taken to the Blue Cross Hospital, and then the two who had died were transported to the Madras Veterinary Hospital for examination.
Blue Cross asked the police to require the vehicle owner to come down from Andhra Pradesh to appear at the Maraimalainagar Police Station, which he did the next morning. Dr. Chinny Krishna, Vice Chairman of the Animal Welfare Board of India, was assured by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mr. Paneerselvam, that the vehicle would be impounded and the owner arrested.
Earlier this year, during a series of stops on the roads conducted by the Police, Blue Cross rescued over one hundred cattle from similar illegal transport, taking the animals to the Blue Cross shelter and providing food and vet care for them. Providing shelter to so many large animals, with no advance notice, was not an easy task, especially since most of the cattle were in bad shape, due to injuries and lack of water.
To tackle this ongoing problem, meetings were held among Mr. Ramanujam, Director General of Police, the AWBI, and The Blue Cross officials.
The Director General of Police set up a team of two senior officials – one of whom is Mr. Paneerselvam, Deputy Inspector General, to work with the AWBI and Blue Cross to bring an end to the inhumane, illegal transport of cattle.
Cattle in the thousands are being transported long distances, from Andhra Pradesh, which is north of Chennai, and other Indian states, to Kerala in the southwest of India. In Kerala cow slaughter is legal, though it is illegal in nearly all other Indian states, so the cattle are transported to Kerala, in extremely inhumane conditions. It is not the transport itself that is illegal, but the overcrowded, cruel conditions.
The problem the police have is that when they stop the trucks carrying the cattle, they want to be sure they can provide for treatment and shelter for the animals. In northern Tamil Nadu, in the Chennai area, Blue Cross has offered to accept all cattle that are confiscated from illegal transport, even though having enough room is a problem.
What is urgently needed are for cow shelters, called goshalas, to be set up throughout all of Tamil Nadu, along the routes where the trucks bring the cattle. Setting up goshalas would allow the Police to be able to stop the trucks carrying the cattle. Until they have places available to receive the animals, it’s hard for them to enforce the law.
The Temple Worshippers Society has released a 30 minute video about this issue, entitled, “Their Last Journey.”
Mrs. Radha Rajan and Mr. Badri directed the video, which contains disturbing, graphic content, that was filmed at great risk by the staff and volunteers of Blue Cross.
The video is now posted on YouTube. To request a copy, please send a stamped, self-addressed envelope (in India, Rs. 30 towards Speed Post charges) to Blue Cross of India, 1 Eldams Road, Chennai 600 018.
Thanks to Dr. Chinny Krishna for contributing information for this story.
Photos: Sharon St Joan / Cows rescued in January and Februrary 2012 by Blue Cross of India