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.
Photo: Sharon St Joan