Coimbatore's Humane Animal Society finding homes for abandoned strays online
HAS’s first-of-its-kind virtual adoption gives animal lovers the option to support strays through website
COIMBATORE: A stone’s throw away from the electricity substation in Seeranaickenpalayam, a thatched house with walls as yellow as the sun shining above it greets the visitor. The board on the wall reads Humane Animal Society (HAS). At the longer end of the bright, warm house are doodles of dogs displaying different moods of the fur babies with captions: I love you! I’m friendly! You will feed me! And ends with an ‘I love you’. The day gets better already.
HAS, the non-profit trust established in Coimbatore on April 6, 2006, has been the abode of more than 70,000 stray and injured animals. It all started when Dr Mini Vasudevan (57), an engineer by profession, came back home from the US after 13 long years with her husband Madhu Ganesh. The first task as soon as they came back was to take care of the abandoned animals with puppy eyes. Literally, many times.
So, when did she decide to start the organisation? It was never the plan and the decision was made in the spur of the moment. It was the ABC programmes conducted by the government officials here in the local shelter through inexperienced doctors, where the dogs were left without proper care, made her start this NGO.
Since 2006, HAS has been involved in treating injured stray animals, sterilising stray dogs, conducting ABC (Animal Birth Control) programmes, anti-rabies vaccine drives, holding adoption camps, rescuing abandoned animals, feeding them, and finding their forever homes. “HAS has touched the lives of more than 70,000 animals in the past decade and a half,” says Dr Vasudevan.
She says the road to recovery has several bumps. “During the initial stages, we had to shell out a lot of money from our own pockets to treat the injured animals. Later, we began receiving funds from like-minded people, which helped us set up a shelter and a sanctuary for the animals that we rescue and treat for illness.”
HAS had earlier signed an MoU with the Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation (CCMC) back in 2006 and has been conducting ABC programmes and anti-rabies vaccine drives for stray dogs at the shelter in Seeranaickenpalayam. The organisation also went on to set up operation theatres at the shelter to treat strays in dire need of medical attention. Apart from that HAS also opened its own sanctuary for injured and abandoned animals at the outskirts of Coimbatore in Valukkuparai. HAS website states the sanctuary, set in 1.5 acres in Vazhukkupparai, is a peaceful, calm environment for their permanent residents to live out their days, safely and happily. “With a customised cattery, several spacious enclosures, a garden pond, and plenty of shaded areas for our animals to rest in, it is the perfect place,” the description on their website reads.
However, all is not well in the green enclosures of the shelter recently. HAS, all set to step into the 17th year of attending to the stray animals this April, faced one of its biggest struggles during the Covid-19 lockdown after their two veterinarians had quit. Already left stranded with not much donation or food from the donors during the pandemic, HAS had to cope without doctors. “But things changed after two compassionate vets joined in 2020,” she recalls.
Dr Vasudevan’s stupendous efforts in saving and treating injured stray animals were recognized by the Government of India, which felicitated and honoured her with ‘Nari Shakti Puraskar’ in 2019, an award presented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
For the readers who have been moved by the efforts of the caregivers and want to contribute, HAS has introduced virtual adoption, a first of a kind initiative where one can virtually adopt and care for a stray animal through their website in case one cannot adopt or foster them at their homes. The organisation which started with just five trustees in 2006 now has 23 salaried employees, 2 board members and more than 50 volunteers from across the district.