Express press service
COIMBATORE: A stone’s throw from the Seeranaickenpalayam electrical substation, a thatched-roof house with yellow walls like the sun shining above welcomes the visitor. The board on the wall says Humane Animal Society (HAS). At the longer end of the bright and warm house are doodles of dogs displaying different moods of the furry babies with captions: I love you! I am friendly! You will feed me! And ends with an “I love you”. The day is already improving.
HAS, the non-profit trust established in Coimbatore on April 6, 2006, has been home to over 70,000 stray and injured animals. It all started when Dr. Mini Vasudevan (57), an engineer by profession, returned from the United States after 13 long years with her husband Madhu Ganesh. The first task upon their return was to take care of the abandoned animals with puppy eyes. Literally, many times.
So when did she decide to start the organization? This was never planned and the decision was made on the spur of the moment. It was the ABC programs carried out by government officials here in the local shelter through inexperienced doctors, where dogs were left without proper care, led her to start this NGO.
Since 2006, HAS has been involved in the treatment of injured stray animals, the sterilization of stray dogs, the conduct of ABC (Animal Birth Control) programs, vaccination campaigns against rabies, the organization of adoption camps , rescuing abandoned animals, feeding them and finding their forever homes. “HAS has touched the lives of more than 70,000 animals over the past decade and a half,” says Dr Vasudevan.
She says the road to recovery has many bumps. “In the early stages, we had to shell out a lot of money from our own pockets to treat injured animals. Later, we started receiving funds from like-minded people, which helped us set up a shelter and sanctuary for the animals we rescue and treat for disease.
HAS had previously signed a memorandum of understanding with the Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation (CCMC) in 2006 and conducted ABC programs and rabies vaccination campaigns for stray dogs at the Seeranaickenpalayam shelter. The organization has also set up operating rooms in the shelter to treat stray animals in urgent need of medical attention. Apart from this, HAS has also opened its own sanctuary for injured and abandoned animals on the outskirts of Coimbatore at Valukkuparai. The HAS website says the sanctuary, located on 1.5 acres in Vazhukkupparai, is a peaceful and calm environment for their permanent residents to live out their days, safely and happily. “With a custom cattery, several spacious enclosures, a garden pond, and plenty of shaded areas for our animals to rest, this is the perfect place,” the description on their website reads.
However, all is not well in the green enclosures of the refuge recently. HAS, set to enter its 17th year of stray animal care in April, faced one of its biggest challenges during the Covid-19 lockdown after their two vets left. Already stuck with few donations or food from donors during the pandemic, the HAS had to do without doctors. “But things changed after two compassionate vets joined in 2020,” she recalls.
Dr. Vasudevan’s prodigious efforts in rescuing and caring for injured strays have been recognized by the Government of India, who commended and honored her with ‘Nari Shakti Puraskar’ in 2019, an award given by the Ministry of Women’s Development and of the child.
For readers who have been touched by the efforts of caregivers and wish to contribute, HAS has set up virtual adoption, a first of its kind where one can virtually adopt and care for a stray animal via its website in case where they could not be adopted or welcomed into their homes. The organization that started with just five directors in 2006 now has 23 salaried employees, 2 board members and more than 50 volunteers from across the district.