Many of us animal lovers wish we could do more to help the stray dogs we see on the streets everyday. But almost all of us seem to feel we’ve done our bit by feeding them and maybe petting them a little. About three years ago, three girls in Pune felt they could do more. Neha Panchamiya Jangle, Tanya Kane and Shruti Shringarpure Srinath started ‘ResQ’ (an emergency rescue helpline for dogs) and, in order to fund it, founded ‘The Paws Pack’ (a pet management company). Shruti takes the time out to tell us all about it.
VP: How did The Paws Pack and ResQ first start?
Shruti: ResQ was the first to start. Tanya, Neha and I found an injured dog in the middle of the night and there really wasn’t much help. We lost that dog, but we’d then decided to take it upon ourselves to help these dogs who are injured. We started an emergency rescue helpline to rescue dogs, mainly stray dogs. It started with a small area but we now have six small kennels where these dogs recover. We vaccinate them and if possible sterilise them, and then put them back on the streets. These rescues are, of course, free of charge and nobody has to pay for them. Our helpline number is 9890334433.
VP: How do you fund these rescues?
Shruti: Well, we’ve had very generous people in the city who give us medicines and donations. Some, whose pets have passed away, offer their belongings to us. In fact, we’ve recently had an ambulance donated to us which has an OT table as well as medicines. It was quite a blessing since we previously drove these dogs around in our cars.
Although these funds were more than welcome, we didn’t want to be dependent on external donations for funds. So we decided to start a pet management company which is The Paws Pack.
VP: Tell us more about The Paws Pack
Shruti: We offer several services, but for pets, not stray dogs. Tanya and I handle behaviour counselling and basic training while Neha, being a nutritionist, advises pet owners on diets. We’ve recently launched ‘Doggie Diners’ which offers full nutritional consultation and even home-delivered tiffins.
‘The Pawsh’ is our dog retreat, where we’ve built kennels, with a pool and a play area. It’s perfect for pet owners to leave their pets here when they’re out of town.
VP: The services that The Paws Pack offers are a relatively new concept in India – are there many pet owners in Pune involved?
Shruti: Yes, of course. We’ve been training dogs for a few years now, so their owners often leave their pets with us. We’ve designed the retreat in such a way that it’s almost like a mini holiday for the dogs where they get to play, swim and socialise. Summers are rush time and the retreat is almost full now.
VP: How long have you been working for?
Shruti: Both ResQ and The Paws Pack have been working for about two and a half years now.
VP: Coming back to ResQ, are all of you qualified to treat animals?
Shruti: All three of us have different professional backgrounds. I am an ENT surgeon (for humans), while Neha is a nutritionist and Tanya is a certified trainer. None of us are qualified veterinarians, but we’ve been associated with many vets in the city and have learnt quite a bit from them. So we are qualified for basic first aid and as far as I am concerned, being a surgeon is definitely an advantage.
In fact, most of these vets are the first ones to get emergency calls relating to stray dogs. So it works to their advantage to have people like us working under them. They really are very helpful and have spent hours teaching us how to give injections, kinds of medicine, dosage and even how to repair fractures.
VP: Do you have a lot of volunteers?
Shruti: Yes, we have many volunteers who come forward to help out. We’ve already held two first aid workshops for them so they can handle minor situations that require treatment in their areas.
Another area where volunteers are really helpful is to check the actual magnitude of the injury. We get several calls from panicky dog-lovers even if the situation isn’t too grave. Our volunteers get to the scene and take a call. For example, if a dog’s limping, a volunteer would be able to tell the cause was a wound or not.
Some of the volunteers, who’ve been helping us for a while, in actual field work are supplied with first aid kits so that they can treat injured dogs themselves in their own areas.
VP: How much support do you get from the citizens of Pune?
Shruti: There are obviously people who aren’t very fond of dogs. But I have to say the citizens are very helpful. Those who do reach out to us are very supportive. After making the call, they’ll make sure that they wait for us to arrive and very often donate money for the dog’s treatment.
VP: Narrate one of your most memorable rescues
Shruti: All our rescues have been memorable and all have been special. We’ve gad to pull out dogs from the middle of a canal and even had to call the fire brigade when things have gotten out of hand. But even the simple rescues on the road are heart warming. To see these dogs running around after being treated is extremely satisfying.
VP: What keeps you motivated?
Shruti: Quite simply, it’s the dogs. It’s a wonderful feeling to see a dog, who’s had surgery in the morning, being playful and running in the evening. It’s their spirit that keeps us going. No matter how bad how the situation gets, there’s something within them, their spirit, which leads them to a quick recovery. That’s what motivates us to cure the next one, and the next, and the next …