Category: animals


Just as they did during the lockdown a year ago, Blue Cross has been giving thousands of meals every day to the street dogs in Chennai, in the south of India.

During normal times, many street dogs hang out around tea shops and restaurants where customers give them handouts. During the lockdown these businesses have all been closed, and the dogs have been left with no source of food, so the feeding by the Blue Cross volunteers has saved their lives.

Chefs to the rescue

This has been a huge undertaking. Blue Cross has coordinated cooking the food – dog food in India is cooked and is a healthy mixture of rice and other nutritional ingredients and supplements. They have worked with chefs in restaurants and hotels who have volunteered to cook the food. When the restaurants were closed, the chefs came in every day especially to do this, while Blue Cross provided the ingredients. This has been a very large expense for them – around $600 every day, and this is in addition to feeding the one thousand or so animals who they care for, at any given time, at their main shelter.

Blue Cross has organized many dozens of volunteers to distribute the food to the dogs; some of these kind people also feed the dogs during normal times, but now it’s risen to a whole new level. They also bring along food for cows and other animals out on the street. Last year Blue Cross was able to arrange an understanding with the police for the dog feeders to be out on the street during the lockdown, and this has continued this year. In some cases the police themselves have helped with the feeding.

A native breed

Most of the street dogs in India are a native breed of “All-India” dogs that arose naturally and was not “bred.” They are of medium height, with short fur and ears pointing up. For thousands of years they have existed in Indian cities. They tend to be shy, quiet, and very adept at crossing the street while avoiding traffic. They are quite used to being out on the street. The five thousand or so humane shelters in India do not and have never rounded up the street dogs to kill them in shelters. It would not have occurred to them to do so. They simply help those animals who are injured or in distress.

In 1964, Blue Cross of India began the first, continuously running, spay/neuter program in the entire world. This program has been going ever since and has never stopped; it paused only briefly during the two lockdowns for the pandemic. It is efficient and effective and is known as the ABC program because, as Blue Cross’s co-founder and chairman emeritus, Dr Chinny Krishna, says, “It is as simple as ABC.”

A long history of helping street dogs

The ABC program has always included rabies vaccinations, which have brought rabies under control throughout the city of Chennai (and eliminated it entirely during several years), saving the lives of both animals and people.

The ongoing, dedicated work of Blue Cross caring for the street dogs of Chennai has had a powerful influence on the care of dogs and other animals in cities all over India – although India has traditionally, true to their culture and philosophy – been a land which values kindness towards all animals. The ABC program maintains a steady, stable population of the dogs, who are calm and well habituated to their neighborhoods, where they can live peacefully for many years.

In addition, Blue Cross runs a very active ambulance rescue service for animals in distress, helping many thousands of dogs and other animals each year. Dogs found on the street who have formerly been pets are taken to the Blue Cross shelter and placed in the adoption program to find loving homes.

Please help Blue Cross, if you can. They have undertaken the monumental task of feeding the street dogs during this time when they have had no regular source of food. A little goes a long way. Bless you and thank you.

Photos: Velu, Blue Cross of India

In September of 2020, a juvenile spot-billed pelican (Pelicanus phillipensis) was rescued from a home in the city of Bangalore and brought to the WRRC (the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, in Bangalore, India).

When she arrived, she was shy around people and also aggressive, as a wild bird would normally be. She wasn’t yet able to fly. She wasn’t feeling well, was not eating, and seemed to have an infection, so she was treated for this and was handfed.

Dr. Roopa Satish and the caregivers realized that, probably, the pelican was from one of the city lakes and had been kidnapped, possibly to be used for meat. Fortunately, she had been rescued by a good Samaritan, who understood just where to take her and brought her to the WRRC so she could receive expert care.

Learning to fly

Before long, she was able to eat on her own and was beginning to flap her wings, lift herself into the air, and exercise her flight muscles. Soon, she was put into a larger aviary where she had a wonderful time learning to fly. After a few months though, she could fly so well that the aviary became too small for her. She was brushing her wings against the sides in flight and risking hurting herself, so she really needed to be released right away.

This was a dilemma though because there were no pelicans flying in the immediate vicinity in the Bannerghatta Forest and the city lakes were not pleasant or safe release sites due to the high volume of human activity – fishing, boating, strolling, and bird watching. They weren’t a good place for a wild bird to be.

A place of refuge

In February, 2021, the pelican was driven 180 kilometers (50 miles) to a very special village, Kokkrebelluru, which is filled with birds. The people there love the birds and even sing songs to welcome them back after their migration. Nearby there are large, clean, beautiful lakes – good places for pelicans to catch fish. There are many other species of birds, such as painted storks, ibis, and Brahminy kites. The local villagers protect the birds, so they feel at home there, and they build hundreds of nests in the surrounding trees.

This was the perfect place for the pelican. She was released there at a research center for pelicans set up by the Forest Department and overseen by a pelican researcher.

They will keep an eye on her as she learns to fish for herself and will give some supplemental feeding if it is needed. When she’s fully ready, she’ll be able to live her life free in the wild, in a beautiful, safe, protected spot of great beauty. She’ll make new friends and will be able to migrate and return again to this idyllic place, living her life in freedom as nature intended.

Thanks to thoughtful person who rescued her, the expert care given by the WRRC team, and the help of the research center and the kind villagers of Kokkrebelluru, the pelican who very nearly became dinner is now all set to have a bright and happy future.


Photo credit: WRRC

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Pexels.com

Thank you for being our home. Thank you for your sacred beauty.

May your lands be blessed and released from harm. May your oceans and waters be clean and safe for all the beings who live within them. May your forests grow tall, and your wild lands be green and filled with life. May your rocks, cliffs, and sacred mountains tower in majesty.

May your life and your spirit be healed that you may be strong and well – that your children – the birds, the animals, the plants, and all peoples — may live in peace and wellbeing.

May you be freed from oppression, tyranny, and the hand of death that you may be well once more, as nature intended. May the forces of the harmful shadow dwindle, vanish, and be gone – returned to non-existence. May the phantom demons of hate leave – fallen into the abyss, never to return.

May the beauty of your sacred spirit fly in the wind on the wings of birds, run with the swift feet of the four-legged ones, and swing with the gentle, waving branches of the juniper trees.

May all your life and your sacred spirit be blessed, honored, revered, restored, and whole.

May the sun, the moon, and the stars bless you with their radiant light and their presence.

May you rise again in joy, power, and magic, in this age and in the age that is to come.

© Sharon St Joan, 2021