We are very happy to report that we have completed our first two spay & neuter clinics!
Barrio Nuevo is one of those poor neighborhoods so common in developing nations. These Barrios originated a while back as shantytowns, a clutter of simple shacks made of flattened oil drums, plywood, aluminum sheets, plastic tarps and whatever recycled construction materials the “developer” was able to put his hands on at the time.
They first attracted the poorest of the poor, most often former Campesinos (farmers) who left the rural areas of their countries for the big city, in hope of escaping poverty and hunger.
In Costa Rica, the capital is surrounded by such Precarios, neighborhoods that were once temporary as their name indicates, but that are now well established components of the Central Valley, where the big city of San José lies.
Junior, a homeless man who calls the streets of Barrio Nuevo his home, is well aware of the challenges that every resident faces. He spends the day looking for work and caring for several of the furry wanderers that follow him around, wagging happily in the sticky tropical heat.
One dog in particular is very attached to him. Bigotica, which roughly translates to “Costa Rican moustache”, decided that Junior needed a guardian angel and takes her role very seriously, never leaving his side. When Junior heard over the Coconut Telegraph – the grapevine, as it is nicknamed around here- that the SNIP Foundation and the Asociación Nacional Protectora de los Animales (ANPA) were organizing the first ever spay and neuter clinic in his neck of the woods, he made sure to be first in line on the morning of the event.
“I know firsthand what the dogs have to do to stay alive here. We need a lot of things in Barrio Nuevo, but one thing we do not need is more puppies suffering in the streets”, says Junior as we check his beloved Bigotica in.
At the end of a very long day, after many Juniors came and left cradling their spayed/neutered pets in their arms, we sat down feeling beat and yet proud of what we had accomplished. Now the challenge is to follow up, continuing with our outreach education efforts and promoting responsible ownership.
To read the rest of SNIP’S newsletter, you can sign up to receive the newsletter at their website. Click here.
The threat to the dolphins in India goes back much further though. In a very tragic turn of events, in 1998, a dolphinarium, Dolphin City, actually was set up in Chennai. CPREEC, Dr. Nanditha Krishna’s organization, and Blue Cross of India, of which Dr. Chinny Krishna was the Co-Founder and, at that time also the Vice Chairman, worked tirelessly to oppose it.
Very sadly, the three dolphins who had been imported from Bulgaria and brought to the Chennai dolphinarium, died within a few short months. The dolphinarium denied that they had died, and the show went on with only sea lions.
In reply to all questions, their story was that the dolphins were okay, and would soon be performing “when they were alright.” Dr. Chinny Krishna, of Blue Cross, persisted in telling the truth about the fate of the dolphins and in calling for an autopsy. Finally, a reporter from the Hindu confronted the dolphinarium’s management stating that if he was not allowed to see the dolphins, he would be forced to agree with Blue Cross’s statement that they had died. The truth of the dolphins’ deaths did come out. But, in the meantime, the dolphinarium had not only denied the dolphins’ deaths, but had ordered three more replacement dolphins from Bulgaria and arranged for their transport on a Russian plane, to be parachuted down from the plane on to the coast of Tamil Nadu, near Chennai. After the story broke in The Hindu, massive negative publicity erupted all over Chennai, forcing the dolphinarium to shut down — fortunately, this happened before they could import the three new dolphins. Sadly though, the sea lions, by this time, had also died.
In the midst of this overwhelmingly tragic story for the animals, Dr. Nanditha Krishna recalls a somewhat lighter moment — someone arrived carrying a “whole box full of rupees.” They thought they could bribe the Krishnas to keep quiet and forget all about the dead dolphins. Of course, the people were sent away in short order, taking their overstuffed box of rupees with them.
The Chennai dolphinarium was closed, thanks to the determined efforts of Blue Cross and CPREEC. Another attempt, just last year, to set up another one, in Mumbai, was also thwarted. With the ban just announced, India will be permanently free of the cruelty inherent in keeping dolphins in captivity.
Dr. Nanditha Krishna explains, “Dolphins belong to the ocean, just as other wild animals belong to the forest. Every species belongs in their own natural habitat. They have lovely smiles. They are so innocent. How can it be right to confine a dolphin and make them do performances?”
The system of animal protection laws in India is perhaps the most enlightened anywhere in the world; it has been put together over decades by many far-sighted leaders across India in the animal welfare movement. Even more significantly, it flows from the deep reverence for animals which, over the millennia, has been and still is part of the fabric of Indian life and culture.
The permanent ban issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Dr. Chinny Krishna believes, will put a definitive end, in India, to attempts to remove dolphins and other cetaceans from the sea and use them for human entertainment. “In the wild, dolphins live 40 or 50 years. In captivity, they may die in two or three years. If this isn’t cruelty, I don’t know what is. In India, this unkind captivity won’t be happening. Dolphins need to enjoy their freedom and their beautiful wild lives in the sea.”
In banning dolphinariums, India has, once again, led the way towards compassionate protection for animals.
If you’d like to write to thank Ms. Jayanthi Natarajan for this landmark ruling banning dolphinariums in India, you can write to her at
Top photo: “This image is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, taken or made as part of an employee’s official duties.” / Wikipedia Commons / Common Dolphin
In a landmark ruling, India bans dolphinariums, Part One
“The sun was shining. The dolphins were like silver and gold streaks, jumping up out of the ocean, near the boat. They have synchronized movements, and they jumped together, making great arcs in the shape of a bow. Their sheer beauty was amazing. It was beautiful. They’re so innocent. How could anyone mistreat them?”
Dr. Nanditha Krishna recalled seeing dolphins in the wild, in the Andaman Sea, when she was traveling by ship from Singapore back to Chennai, India. She was captivated by them, and it is a memory that has stayed with her. Dr. Nanditha Krishna is the Honorary Director of the CPR Environmental and Education Centre (CPREEC). Dr. Chinny Krishna, who has devoted his life to the wellbeing of animals, serves as the Vice-Chairman of the Animal Welfare Board of India.
Just this month, in an outstanding victory for dolphins, India has banned dolphinariums from being set up anywhere in India. On May 17, 2013, Ms. Jayanthi Natarajan, the Minister of Environment and Forests (MoEF), issued this decisive ban. This means that these beautiful, gentle creatures will not be exploited in India. Dolphins that are held captive in dolphinariums are wild animals who have been taken from their lives of freedom in the oceans to be used for human entertainment. Other countries are likely to follow this forward-looking, compassionate stand.
Mr. B.S. Bonal, Member Secretary of the Central Zoo Authority, in an accompanying statement, expressed the view that dolphins are to be regarded as “non-human persons.”
In accordance with the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, all zoos in India, a category which would include dolphinariums, must obtain advance permission from the Central Zoo Authority before they can be established. Mr. Bonal goes on to state that dolphins are highly intelligent, and that it is morally unacceptable to use them for entertainment; also that they do not survive well in captivity and that they undergo extreme distress when captive. Therefore on all these grounds, the Ministry of Environment and Forests will not allow any dolphinariums in India.
Dr. Nanditha Krishna points out that this document is remarkable in the annals of animal welfare law, in that it makes the case for the ban on dolphinariums based on the vantage point of the animal, and not from a human point of view, and states explicitly that dolphins are “persons.”
Dr. Nanditha Krishna served two three-year terms on the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and has over the years been in on-going communication with Mr. Bonal and the earlier Member Secretaries of the CZA. When the alarming possibility first surfaced around a year ago of a dolphinarium in Kerala, she wrote to Dr. Tishya Chatterji, the then Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, and Mr. Bonal. Both replied that the Ministry and the Central Zoo Authority would not give permission for these dolphinariums to be set up. She wrote back that she was very glad to hear that. Mr. Bonal also sent a statement to that effect to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests in Kerala, telling him to ensure that no dolphinarium came up in Kerala. Finally, in view of the growing demand to ban all dolphinariums, the Central Zoo Authority issued the ban order. This is a bold step forward for freedom for dolphins and other cetaceans.
Earlier, in January, 2013, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) had issued an advisory, signed by Dr. Kharb, Chairman of the AWBI, much to the same point, strongly opposing the setting up of dolphinariums in India. All performing animals must be registered in advance with the AWBI, and the advisory stated that it will not give any permission for dolphinariums, on the grounds that they violate the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. Furthermore, the AWBI advisory goes on, there is no educational benefit to seeing cetaceans in captivity. This can only “mis-educate” the public into not understanding that dolphins are wild animals that belong in the wild.
In accordance with India’s long history of appreciation and respect for animals, a great many Indian groups and individuals worked very hard to keep dolphinariums out of India.
FIAPO, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations, along with its partners, Born Free Foundation, Global Green Grants Fund, Earth Island Institute’s Dolphin Project, and Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, have also been campaigning against allowing dolphinariums into India. They have brought public attention to this issue, holding press conferences in Delhi and in Kerala and were very pleased at the announcement of the ban. Humane Society International has also been actively engaged, non-stop, in fighting against dolphinariums.
It was in the spring of 2012 that the Mayor of Kochi, in Kerala, made the announcement, startling to many, that the city of Kochi was planning to open a dolphinarium. This sparked animal welfare groups throughout India to work diligently on behalf of the dolphins since that moment. This success is the result of the work of everyone who took part.
Top photo: “This file is in the public domain because it was solely created by NASA.” / Wikimedia Commons / “Bottlenose Dolphin – Tursiops truncatus A dolphin surfs the wake of a research boat on the Banana River – near the Kennedy Space Center.”
Second photo: Serguei S. Dukachev / Wikimedia Commons / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.” / “Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin, Tursiops aduncus. Red Sea.”
Ko Cho, who has been rescuing, feeding, and caring for community cats in Myanmar (Burma) for several years, now has a good safe place for some of them to live, in Uranus, his lumber business. We wish him much success with his business, which will help him in his work with the cats. Ko Cho is the only animal rescuer we are aware of in Myanmar. He also recently rescued and released two young crows, who have stayed around with their cat friends.
Smiley was a special dog. All dogs are special, of course, including all the many dogs who have found their way from the streets of Chennai to Dr. Chinny Krishna’s factory, and then from there many have found their way into the home of Dr. Nanditha and Dr. Chinny Krishna.
But Smiley had unique talents. As well as being charming and endearing, she had a delightful smile – actually a broad grin – which showed all her teeth. When Smiley was smiling, it was impossible not to smile too. Dr. Chinny Krishna writes, “She was really the ‘smilingest’ dog I have ever known.”
She was about 7 or 8 when he took her home from his factory in 2006, and she lived to be around fifteen, always active, happy, and in good health. Even on the morning of May 13, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
She passed away that afternoon and has gone on to her next adventure, carrying her smile with her to light the lives of friends she meets along the way.
May Smiley rest in peace as she brings peace to others.
Little black haired Haa Sip (50 in Thai) left his mark on history (and the vets left a mark on him!) when he became the 50,000th animal to be sterilized since Soi Dog started in late 2003. Performing the historic deed were two of our resident veterinarians Dr Su and Dr Che. Haa Sip is from Thepkasatri district in Phuket.
Soi Dog Vice-President John Dalley said the Foundation hopes at its current rate to sterilize 100,000 animals in around three years time. In its first year Soi Dog sterilized just over 1000 animals.
Mr. Dalley said: “The current mobile clinic programme on Phuket, working closely with the province’s local authorities, aims to have the island’s stray population under control in two years and to continue the province’s rabies free status.”
Soi Dog is discussing with the Department of Livestock in Bangkok introducing a national programme based on Soi Dog’s activities on Phuket. Thailand has pledged to eradicate rabies by 2020 in accordance with ASEAN agreements. Large populations of unvaccinated and unsterilized street dogs makes the eradication of rabies virtually impossible and we are hoping that a national programme can be established in the interest of both animal and human welfare.
Tribute to Jeanne Marchig:
Soy Dog dedicated this newsletter to Jeanne Marchig, a generous supporter of Soi Dog Foundation and numerous small animal charities throughout the world, who passed away in early May of this year.
Said Soi Dog Vice President John Dalley at her passing: “We at Soi Dog are extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Madame Jeanne Marchig. Through the Marchig Trust she established in 1989 she has enabled countless smaller animal charities like Soi Dog Foundation to progress and continue their work, and in 2011 she funded the innovative cat hospital that bears her name at the Soi Dog center. Also in 2011 Gill and I were very humbled to receive the annual Marchig trust award for services to animal welfare, one of the most prestigious awards in the world of animal welfare.”
We shall miss her.
To read the rest of this issue of the Soi Dog newsletter, click here. (Caution, some photos may be disturbing.)
This is Part Two; to read Part One first, click here.
While the marathon of talks was ongoing, Blue Cross was taking steps to get ready to receive the puppies. Laboratory-bred puppies would have no immunity to real-world conditions, so great care must be taken not to expose them to any germs commonly carried by dogs. For this reason, they couldn’t be kept on the grounds of a shelter, neither at Blue Cross nor at PFA Chennai. Even transportation for them would have to be in sanitized vehicles.
Blue Cross runs a 24 hour a day regular ambulance service for injured street dogs, with nearly a dozen ambulances on hand. They took the two largest ambulances out of service for two weeks to fumigate them, disinfect them, and scrub them from top to toe. Then they repainted the insides of the ambulances. No germ was left alive.
At 4pm on Friday, Dawn Williams, representative of Blue Cross, went to the Quarantine Station, with papers in hand – the letter from ADVINUS, plus the notification from the Ministry of Environment and Forests authorizing the puppies to be handed over to the AWBI.
This was still not enough, however. He was informed that since Customs had sent the puppies to the Quarantine Station, only Customs could get them released.
Dr. Krishna called the Chief Customs Officer for the whole of India, who was in a meeting in Delhi. By 7pm, he had given his okay, and by 8pm, Dawn Williams was back at the Quarantine Station with the additional papers. Everything seemed fine then, except that it was after dark, and it would be best to come back in the morning.
The indefatigable Dawn Williams returned at 8 am the next morning, which was Saturday, with the two ambulances to get the puppies. At 9:45 am, someone showed up, but nothing further happened, and at noon, he was still waiting.
At one pm, the Quarantine Officer appeared, and announced that he would need permission from the Minister of Agriculture to release the puppies.
Dr. Krishna made another round of 100 phone calls, trying to reach someone — anyone who could do something. At last, in desperation, he called Mr. Doulat Jain, a former Vice Chairman of the AWBI. An industrialist who is still a member of the AWBI, he was kind enough to contact the Agriculture Minister of India, who then instructed that the puppies be released. By then, it was 5 pm on Saturday afternoon.
At 7pm, the puppies were at long last turned over to Dawn Williams. 25 of the puppies were immediately given to Dr. Shiranee Periera of People for Animals, Chennai, who adopted all of them out, on the spot, to pre-screened families. This took place just outside the doors of the Quarantine Office.
The other 45, under the auspices of Blue Cross, were loaded into the immaculate ambulances and made their way to the home of Dr. Nanditha and Dr. Chinny Krishna.
At 7:30 pm, the puppies arrived on a comfortably cool South India January evening, where they were kept in an enclosed garden that had been carefully cleaned and disinfected, outside one of the compound buildings.
Soon 100 people, buzzing with excitement converged on the scene, all anxious to get a glimpse of the puppies. There were forty-five pre-screened, qualified families. All had to have a family vet, and had to commit to getting their adopted puppies vaccinated and spayed or neutered.
Between 7:30 and 10pm that evening 28 puppies were adopted. No adoption fees were charged, but about half the families gave donations to Blue Cross.
The following night, Sunday, the 17 remaining puppies found homes. It was a happy occasion for both people and puppies.
Despite the joy of this truly happy event, Dr. Nanditha and Dr. Chinny Krishna noted that some of the 45 puppies could not bark. They seemed to have been debarked. Also, they were not normal size and seemed to have been bred intentionally to be dwarf beagles.
Moksha, Mukti, and all the others, have large numbers tattooed in their ears. The numbers are an 8, followed by 6 digits. Even if one assumes that the 8 is a batch number, that still means that the number of beagle puppies bred in the lab they came from is in the six figures.
The beagle pups were six months old by this time. They all, of course, needed housetraining. Despite having been kept caged the entire time, Dr. Chinny Krishna says that every dog was “so friendly.” These 70 innocent beagle puppies will now be blessed with a chance to have long, happy lives, and Moksha and Mukti can play with Ruffles.
Following the great love and care she was given, Mukti’s spinal problem vanished, as if it had never been.
This was a bright spot in a lengthy battle. The struggle continues in the long fight to arrive at a moment when all animals everywhere in the world are free from the threat of being used in laboratories.
To visit the website of Blue Cross of India, click here.
Moksha and Mukti almost missed the chance to spend their days playing tug of war with Ruffles, a gigantic yellow lab. Ruffles is incredibly gentle with them. They like to play with slippers, which is forbidden, but never mind. The slippers end up on the sofa or outside in the garden.
The two adorable puppies arrived as part of a batch of 70 rescued beagle puppies. 45 went to the home of Dr. Nanditha and Dr. Chinny Krishna to be adopted out to carefully screened, loving homes. All were healthy except that Mukti had a worrying spinal problem, and Moksha was rather skinny, so, naturally, these were the two that Dr. Nanditha Krishna decided to keep.
In November of 2012, a PETA representative had seen the 70 beagle puppies at the Customs Office in Chennai and had informed the CPCSEA (Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals) out of concern for the puppies.
In response, one of the CPCSEA committee members, Dr. Chinny Krishna, who is also Vice-Chairman of the Animal Welfare Board of India, looked into the circumstances of the puppies and how they came to be held by Customs.
Marshall BioResources, an American company in China, had bred the beagles and shipped them to India to be used for laboratory experiments. They had been shipped on Cathay Pacific, although the airline had voluntarily undertaken not to ship any animals destined for laboratories. The puppies had been mislabeled as “pets.”
There was a larger legal issue as well. It turned out that the CPCSEA had previously given ADVINUS labs, in Bangalore, permission to use 430 beagles in lab tests. ADVINUS is a toxicology testing lab that does contract laboratory testing for foreign companies – mostly pharmaceutical and agrochemical testing.
As a government body whose function is to regulate the use of animals in laboratories; the CPCSEA has no authority to prohibit testing; its powers are limited to ensuring that all guidelines are followed.
The question at hand was, did ADVINUS import the puppies legally?
Although ADVINUS, a member of the group of TATA companies, did have permission to use 430 beagles in testing, apparently those tests had already been completed. It seemed that the 70 beagles were imported afterwards, and that would mean they were imported illegally.
When Dr. Krishna learned about the plight of the beagles, who were stuck in the Quarantine Station, he called the Chairman of ADVINUS, who was in Mumbai, and told him, that it looked like “these animals have been brought here illegally.”
The ADVINUS Chairman then flew from Mumbai to Chennai, with another company officer. Joined by their chief vet in Bangalore, the three from ADVINUS sat down for a meeting with Dr. Krishna, and Dr. Shiranee Periera, of People for Animals (PFA), also a CPCSEA member.
Known worldwide, the TATA group has an excellent reputation for being above board. The ADVINUS company Chairman insisted that the puppies had not entered India illegally and said that he would fight the charge. However, he also expressed a wish not to have the puppies suffer any further distress and said he wanted to release them so that homes could be found for them.
Normally, the puppies would be quarantined for 45 days, but the 70 puppies had already been in quarantine for 60 days, kept in cages the whole time, two to a cage. It must have felt to them like being in jail. ADVINUS wanted them released for adoption, even though this meant that the company had spent about $25,000 to procure the puppies and would be charged for their time spent in quarantine.
ADVINUS provided papers, legally releasing the puppies to the Animal Welfare Board of India, with the arrangement that they would then be consigned to the animal welfare organization, Blue Cross of India. The story wasn’t quite over yet though. Getting an agreement for the puppies to be released was one thing, but actually obtaining their physical release was a different thing altogether. There were more hurdles to go.
Maneka Gandhi, well-known animal rights advocate who has held a number of ministerial posts in the government, and Dr. Chinny Krishna, spent a marathon of three weeks of intense negotiations for the actual, real transfer of the puppies out of Quarantine.
Talks took place with the TATA company, with the Quarantine people, with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Finance (in charge of Customs and Excise), and the Ministry of Environment and Forests. There were visits to Finance Committees, to Customs officials in both Delhi and Chennai, and requests to about 30 other officials. It took a lot of work….