Treating Dogs with Maggot infestations

The rains and humid weather conditions trigger a windfall of maggot-wound related calls on the Jaagruti helpline…we want to share through this very brief post a basic summary on how we treat/get treated dogs with maggot wounds.

What are Maggots and how do they infest an animal? :
Maggots are insects that eat into the flesh and organs of any animal, be it a calf, a cat, a tiger or a dog. A maggot infestation is triggered when flies lay eggs into any untreated open wound on the animal’s body. The larvae that come out of these eggs keep multiplying, as more flies keep sitting on the wound which is growing bigger by the minute and as a result, the maggots double every 5-6 hours, feeding happily on the flesh of the animal whose body they have made their home in.

Where and how will you see maggots or understand that the animal is infested with maggots and requires treatment?
You won’t see maggots crawling like ticks or lice on the skin surface or hair, instead what you will see is a ‘hole’ in the body of the animal and maggots crawling their way inside it eating away the flesh and body organs, you will smell rotting flesh…and the stinking smell will only get worse as the maggots multiply and penetrate through the body of the unfortunate animal.

How to prevent Maggot infestation?
Prevention is surely better than cure, when it comes to Maggot wounds. Please try to understand that maggot wounds can be fatal/life threatening if no treated on time…also note that maggot infestations occur when any small wound on an animal’s body is left untreated…that is where it all starts from and especially so in humid weather! So, if you notice that your neighbourhood street dog has an open wound, do try cleaning it with cotton dipped in weak tincture iodine or Betadiene or Cipladine solution (which can be bought from your local chemist shop) and apply Himax on top of the wound (Himax is an Ayurvedic insect/fly repellent veterinary ointment, that costs only about Rs.40 per tube)….OR if you think the above cleaning and pasting ointment is difficult to execute, then please try to invest in topical veterinary sprays like Topicure or D-Mag spray and Gotbac powder that can be directly applied on an animal/dog’s open wound. These sprays will be available at your neighbourhood pet supplies shop or veterinarian’s clinic only and not at your local human chemist shop. All the above things shared under this section are preventive in intent and will help heal an animal’s open wound and prevent flies from turning it into a horrible maggot wound.

How to treat a maggot infested wound?
Once you spot a hole in the body parts or smell of rotting flesh in an animal..be rest assured that the smell is of maggots chewing away on the animal’s flesh…and multiplying I.e. doubling every 6 hours…only to make the animal’s life miserable….ACT FAST…keep a bottle of medicinal turpentine oil handy and pour a capful or two of it over and into the maggot infested wound. Then just let it act over the next 6-8 hours…as the medicine takes effect, you will either see the maggots popping out of the wound on the floor or large chunks of glued insects/dissolved and held together like blobs of pus coming out of the wound…if you can muster some courage, take a sterile tweezer to remove the dead maggots from the wound (clean the tweezers/blunt forceps with savlon or dettol solution properly prior to use)…but what if you can’t find Medicinal Turpentine oil at the chemist’s shop…then please remember – DO NOT PUT Painter’s Turpentine oil/kerosene oil/petrol/phenyl etc. into the maggot wound (a lot of people in villages and even otherwise do put all of these, which they shouldn’t because phenyl and petrol and kerosene also burn the animal’s good tissues)….so our suggestion is that in case you don’t find Medicinal Turpentine oil, invest in D-Mag or Topicure or Mag-fite spray and spray that into the maggot wound and let it be…it will have the same effect as described for Turpentine oil as described above. Keep spraying either of these sprays at-least once daily till all maggots are out and then once the maggots have cleared out…put Gotbac powder on the wounds and paste Himax ointment on the wounded area to prevent re-infestation of maggots.Slowly in a few days, fresh skin will start appearing and the open and wide maggot infested wound will heal and you will be glad that your little effort and investment helped save a life for sure…as maggot infestations don’t go away or cure or heal on their own, human intervention in the ways described above are absolutely essential!

We believe following the above steps does help…let us know if it works for you too.

Please refer to this Slideshow on Treatment of Maggot Wounds in Dogs

The Dog Care Field Manual by Harrell Graham (Kind Courtesy: Mr. Merrit Clifton at ANIMAL PEOPLE)

We at ‘Jaagruti’ think that this manual serves as a handy asset for all of us who look after our neighborhood street dogs in India and often find ourselves stuck! 

Download The Dog Care Field Manual by Harrell Graham by clicking here 

All text below by Mr. Merrit Clifton from ANIMAL PEOPLE:

This Dog Care Field Manual, by Harrell Graham,  covers wound treatment;  treatment of both internal parasites such as worms and external parasites such as mange;  emergency response to poisoning;  and avoidance of rabies.  Each topic is reviewed in depth and detail,  recommending crisis care that almost anyone can give when the nearest veterinarian is many miles and hours away. 

Graham,   who recently returned to the U.S. after five years in rural Thailand, compiled The Dog Care Field Manual from his own rescue experience,  in consultation with sympathetic veterinarians from around the world.  Asks Graham, “Have you ever seen a sick or mangy dog and found yourself saying, ‘I wish there was something I could do to help that poor creature?’  Are you an expatriate living in a second or third world country where these sick and wounded animals are everywhere?

“This manual will show you how you can spend some time outside helping man’s best friend and at the same time get to know your community, meet people, and make your life more interesting and meaningful.  It doesn’t require a lot:  a handful of readily available medicines, plus some dry dog food.

“The satisfaction that comes from watching a mite-infected, sick and possibly hairless dog gain his strength and beauty back over a period of just a few weeks is hard to beat.”

Much of Graham’s advice will help rescuers anywhere.  Even where veterinarians are plentiful and accessible during business hours, there is not always a clinic open all night when one finds a dog in distress, and even if such a clinic exists, emergency treatment may be necessary before the dog is moved.

“I read it and found it to be very useful,” C.P. Ramaswamy Institute president Nanditha Krishna e-mailed from Chennai, India, less than 24 hours after ANIMAL PEOPLE posted The Dog Care Field Manual for downloading from our web site.  “Since I run a mini shelter with 15 dogs at home, I constantly need help.  I have downloaded the manual to my desktop.”

The Dog Care Field Manual is not meant to substitute for veterinary care, even in remote regions of the developing world.

“I am a big believer in working with a local vet,” Graham told ANIMAL PEOPLE.  In particular,  an experienced local vet “can better diagnose certain cases,”  Graham explained,  where the dog suffers from a condition known in the community,  but not common elsewhere. However, Graham found that the nearest capable veterinary diagnostician was often far distant.  In Thailand, Graham recalls,  “My vet asked me to bring him pictures––rather than haul all the dogs from the temples 30 miles away––and he could tell me what to do if I didn’t already know.  There were only a handful of times I had to do this because, usually,  Ivermectin and some worm pills,  plus maybe some antibiotics,  are all that most dogs need.

“On those occasions where the dog had problems I couldn’t deal with,”  Graham added,  “I took the dog to the vet.”  Examples included “a broken leg with bloody sharp bones protruding;  liver disease with great ascites (belly distention);   and red cauliflower-like transmissible venereal tumors growing on the genitals,  where the dog needed intervenous chemotherapy.  I did administer intervenous vincristine at night once, on the side of the road, with a head lamp,  and no one to assist me,  but a vet can do it much more easily and quickly.”

Graham acknowledges that some of his advice may be controversial.  “Regarding my suggestion of ‘throwing’ multiple drugs such as antibiotics,  antifungals,  and antiparasitics at an animal who has no hair and is sick,”  Graham recalls grilling experts by e-mail,  reminding them that “stray dogs will not have access to multiple tests in a vet’s office.”  Most conceded that “Under those circumstances the ‘shotgun approach’ was okay.”

But Graham prefers to take a more cautious approach.  For example,   “I prefer to not give antifungals,” Graham says,  “until I’ve first dewormed the dog,  and have given the dog Ivermectin for mites,  and antibiotics.”

Adds Graham,  “I’ve treated more dogs with more severe skin infections than most western vets will see in a lifetime of treating ‘yuppy’ dogs.  I know the approach I outline in the Dog Care Field Manual works because it has been ‘battle tested.’  That doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.”

Graham is continuing to research possible additions and amendments. 

Is your neighbourhood street dog coughing off late? Sharing a treatment that may work

We have seen many dogs who are coughing really hard and continuously in this unbearable summer heat of Delhi-NCR, may be you have too…the cough could be because of dust-triggered Respiratory Infection, says our consultant veterinary doctor. It is painful to see the dogs coughing this way, trying as if they were to release something out that is stuck in their throat and often spitting out phlegm (‘balgam‘ as it is called in Hindi).

The treatment* we have successfully used to treat four dogs on the street over the past month and cure them off their cough is as follows, sharing here so that the readers of this blog can also make use of it:

  1. Go to your neighborhood chemist shop and purchase a strip of Ampoxin-500mg Capsules (it is an antibiotic medicine). A Strip of 15 capsules would cost you Rs.38 only.
  2. Give the coughing dog a 3 day antibiotic-course (3 days x 2 capsules daily) of this medicine. This means that you need to give the coughing dog one Ampoxin-500mg capsule in the morning and one in the evening for three consecutive days.
  3. How to give the capsule, so that the dog will consume the medicine? : Now this is the tricky part. Do not give the capsule as whole, the dog will spit it out and leave the food, who likes food with medicines anyways? :) Open the capsule, cut the capsule at its tip with a scissor and pour the capsule’s white colour powder in some paneer/cheese or sweet like gulab jamun.

*Please note: We are not doctors, but we are sharing this treatment protocol here because we have tried it successfully and we understand that it is very difficult to take each and every street dog to a vet or veterinary hospital for treatment. Many ailments, if detected early enough in street dogs, can be best treated on the street itself.

Do-it-Yourself (DIY)Series-1: How do we pick up street dogs and take them to the nearest vet in our car

We are no experts and neither do we run an animal ambulance or hospital that tends to animals. We do it one street dog (or at best two or three) at a time and try to do our best in getting them treated/taking care of them and returning them back to the streets/areas where we picked them up/rescued them from.

We would like to share here what we have learnt, in our few years of doing this work on how best YOU can also try to pick an animal in need; place them in your car and take them to the nearest good vet for treatment/first aid.

Sometimes, a few regular visits to a good vet are all the injured street dog needs to recover back to full fitness. Also, try and learn some animal first aid yourself; and keep a first aid kit handy with regular medicines (please read this link: http://jaagruti.org/first-aid-for-dogs/)

Please remember sending each and every injured/ill animal to the animal hospital is NOT the solution. The animals recover better when treated on the streets, wherever possible, when tended to by animal lovers in the area and taken to vets, as advised periodically(and given supplementary medication mixed in food as advised by the vet) till they have completely recovered.

Some vets also do street dog sterilization surgeries (by prior appointments only) at their private clinics, at minimal costs for the dog lovers who tend to street dogs in their area and are willing to take care of the sterilized dogs in their homes for a few nights till they recover from the surgery, by sheltering them at their homes for this period of recovery. You need to find such good veterinary surgeons around your home so that tending to animals and getting them treated, sterilized and vaccinated doesn’t become a stressful chore for you, but rather a duty you perform with smile and satisfaction.

However, dogs do try to run away when they sense that you are trying to catch them…when they are injured, they may also tend to bite you, that is not because they hurt you, but because they are already in pain, that may have been inflicted by ‘humans’ only, and are thus less trusting of you

So here goes our checklist for catching an injured street dog and taking them for medical treatment:

 1. Make sure you are at least two people, as two are always better than one, when it comes to extending moral, emotional and physical support to each other…all of which is required when it comes to getting an injured animal treated.

2. Take some dry dog food with you to tempt the animal to you and allowing the animal to trust you to pet/touch them.

3. Equipments you will need to catch a dog:

a. A naada i.e. a cloth string/rope that is used to tie pyjamas here in India)- it works better than a muzzle and we use the same to tie the dog’s mouth and then take it around the neck and tie it at the back of the neck. The naada is gentle and better on the snout.

b. A dog leash (one with collar and one without collar)- the handle of the leash without the collar also acts as a good thing to put around the dog’s neck, while sliding the leash through it so that it becomes a lock.

c. Cover your car seats/floor with a waterproof cloth or/and old bed sheets to avoid getting your car covers/flooring dirty, as the dogs may vomit (due to motion sickness), pee/urinate or poo/defacate en-route, please be prepared for it (Do this preparatory work in your car before you go to rescue the dog).

4. Lifting the dog: Once the snout is muzzled and the leash is tied around their neck (which also gives us a chance to ensure that the dog doesn’t run away once we land at the vet’s clinic), and then lift the dog up in your arms by placing your hands across/under their chest to establish a tight grip as you lift them up. Yes, you are thinking right, you need to be physically strong and firm on your feet to lift dogs up in your arms this way.

5. Place the dog in your car: We take the dogs in our car, we have a Santro, we push down/fold down the backseat, so that the boot of the car and this space adds up and the dog has enough space. Sometimes, for small-sized dogs, we have used pet carriers; but mostly, we just place them in the car the above way and then when we reach our destination (the vet’s place/hospital)…once you have placed the dog inside your car, roll down the window just by a few inches (for ventilation) and not too much the dog tries to stick its neck out and run away.

Street dog being taken in our car for treatment at the nearest vet's clinic

Street dog being taken in our car for treatment at the nearest vet’s clinic

6. Also, try to ensure a crowd doesn’t gather (which may happen, as the dog being caught will try to scream as a defensive reaction); too many people crowding together will make the animal nervous. To disperse the crowd, take help of your team mates and gently try to explain them what you are doing and request them to disperse.

What we do? We have, through experience, learnt to talk and explain about such things gradually with different kinds of people; and when we are only trying to benefit a living being, what’s the shame in trying to answer curious queries…People do listen. While we request people to move inside their homes and not crowd about as the animal is in any case scared, some listen, some don’t and when they don’t, sometimes we have to be forceful and assertive in requesting them, while trying to make sure that we don’t enter into a fight by offending their sensibilities, its a test of patience we agree, but then it’s all worth it.

7. Once you reach the vet’s clinic, either request help from their paravets to take the dog from your car to the vet’s examination room/table. Or ensure that you lift the dog back into your arms carefully (taking care that all other windows/car gates are locked) and take him/her inside the clinic.

Please do share your experiences by writing to us at contact@jaagruti.org or posting comments below. This is just a synopsis of what we do and what works for us.

Thanks.

Treating an old dog with Aural haematoma- Part 2

Dateline: October 2012

Two years back, we had penned a story on how we got an old black dog’s aural haematoma treated.

We had a smilar challenge to face with another old dog, a brown coloured male dog with a very peculiar personality disorder, which is that he wants you to love him, but he is cared of being touched. How does one take a dog with such a feeble heart in one’s car to the doctor’s clinic? We were in a dilemma, confused.

We tried to catch him many a times to take him to the vet’s place, just seeing us approaching him with a leash, he would start screaming on the top of his voice as if the leash was to strangle him.

We were sure we didn’t want him operated (i.e surgically treat him) for this aural haematoma, neither that dog or we had the hearts to brave it.

We discussed this with our trusted vet and requested him to send across his paravet with us to the street where this brown dog lives, the vet agreed and we decided that the best way forward was to aspirate the accumulated fluid out of the dog’s right swollen ear flap and insert antibiotics in the ear flap, that would help dry the fluid and heal the haematoma.

Moral of the story thus far: Have full faith in yourself and conviction in the choices you make. Then march ahead. More often than not, things will fall in place

This is what happened thereafter after the paravet arrived on the spot to execute the plan of medical-action.

Attempt 1: We tried to lure the dog to me with dog food, he came, ate and tried to run away and we couldn’t entice him to come near the paravet for he, i.e. the dog, smelt danger!

Attempt 2: We tried to lure the dog to me with dog food and distracted him, and the paravet from behind threw the leash around  the dog’s neck and using all our force, we managed to hold that dog in that steady position.

The paravet took position and a syringe (plunger with needle) was inserted into the swollen portion of the ear flap by the paravet and the fluid that had accumulated in the dog’s ear flap was sucked out (aspirated) and thrown away. The process was repeated (while keeping the needle fixed on the flap and just removing the syringe’s plunger portion) till the fluid was sucked out (as much as it could be).

Then a mixture of antibiotic Gentamycin and injectable medicine Prednisone (an anti-inflammatory drug that also promotes healing) was injected into the ear flap through that same needle which was left on the ear flap.

Apparently, as explained to us by the paravet, Prednisone as a medicine helps dry the fluid and heal such wounds.

And it worked, it has been a month since this exercise was undertaken and the flap though is now bent, it doesn’t have any fluid accumulated inside it.

This is how it all looks.

The Old Brown Dog’s right ear: Post non-surgical aspiration of aural haematoma fluid [Image (c) Jaagruti]

 

In the end, something to share…We at ‘Jaagruti’ often get questioned on our helpline number by many a rowdy people as to what we actually do, we tell them to read it on these pages on this blog (About Jaagruti, Contact Us and Animal Helplines in Delhi and NCR), we have clearly written on these pages what we are and what we are not, we have nothing to hide.

We don’t run an ambulance or a veterinary hospital, we don’t run a shelter, Jaagruti is a little effort wherein we try to share information and empower you, we try to listen to you when you call, we may not always have an answer, we are young and still learning, but we will always try to guide you with the best possible solution based on our understanding of the subject or issue and help you do what we aim to do, inspiring you to do a good deed a day. For we believe that if everyone were to do that, it will be a good day for many in need.

“Try to make at least one person happy every day. If you cannot do a kind deed, speak a kind word.

If you cannot speak a kind word, think a kind thought.”- Lawrence G. Lovasik 

And remember to smile, despite all the hardships that exist and you face, you’re beautiful and so is this world.

Medicine list to cure a dog who has had a paralytic attack*

Before this information gets erased of our memories, we also wanted to share the list and dosage of medicines that our doctor advised us to give to Hasmukh, when we were hoping against hope that he is unable to walk because he has had a paralytic attack, and not because he had the fatal spinal cord fracture as we came to know much later when we took him to the doc.

Maybe the information shared below, on the medicines that have the potential to cure dogs who have suffered from  a paralytic, will help some of you somewhere in curing a dog in need:

Homeopathic Medicines:

1. Arnica 1M-Morning-10 to 15 small ball tablets

2. Ruta 1M-Afternoon-10 to 15 small ball tablets

3. Rustox 1M-Evening-10-15 small ball tablets

Ayurvedic Medicines

Shilajeet Gel: 1 drop daily to be put on the tongue of the dog

Allopathic Medicine

Methycobal 500 mg- 1 Capsule in the morning and 1 Capsule in the evening

*Disclaimer: Our doc did tell us that all three medicines above could be given as a combination. However, if you were to ever use this info, please do consult your vet beforehand and show the dog to a veterinary medicine expert and take his opinion. Kindly note that he information above is solely being shared for informational purposes.

Peep underneath your car…there could be a life sleeping underneath

23 September 2011: We found Hasmukh sitting next to an electricity metre box in the service lane on the road a kilometre off our place. On our next round that evening, he was still sitting at that spot, panting. On checking with the chowkidaar (security guard) there, our worst fears came true. Hasmukh couldn’t stand up on his hind legs and thus couldn’t walk. Hasmukh was not a street dog of this area, and as we learnt he used to stay across the road and since the chowkidaar and ragpickers found him dragging himself on the middle of the main road, they kept him this side.

If you are wondering why we named him Hasmukh (which means ‘Smiling face’ in English), thats because that was the first name that popped up in our head as we saw him with his lower canine sticking out from one end of his lower jaw :)

We were not interested in packing Hasmukh off to an animal shelter, which is for us always the last preferred option. We lifted him in and brought him to a safe and secluded neighbourhood park, which was clean and not being used by either humans or other street dogs. We made him a nice cosy bed of grass there and fed him that night and decided that we will do our best to get him standing on his feet using the best possible medication underneath open the open sky than make Hasmukh feel depressed amidst hundreds of other sick animals lodged at a shelter.

Hasmukh: Day 1 in the park we kept him in

24 September 2011: Morning time, we went to feed Hasmukh and found big ants stuck around his genitals, a fearful sight and painful because Hasmukh had no sensation of all of them sticking around there, we removed the insects and applied medicines over him to keep the insects away. Amidst all of this, the positive aspect was that Hasmukh was eating well and by the afternoon meal, we knew he loved milk, cheese and pedigree while he had trouble digesting rotis because of his deformed jawline.

We requested the vet to come over that evening and check on him as we didn’t want to put Hasmukh through the trouble of being driven in that condition…it was pitch dark when the vet came and when he did the pin prick test on his hind legs, Hasmukh could not feel any sensation at all!

A couple of painkillers and a multivitamin injection were administered to Hasmukh and we decided to get the course repeated every two days and observe and feed him in the meantime.

27 September 2011: After the previous injections, Hasmukh had become more active, he was sitting in attentive doggy poses the whole day and even growled a female dog that came too close to him away…we were happy by the progress he was making. On 27th night, we repeated the dose of injections.

Hasmukh began sitting attentively whole day long

28 September 2011: At a Street Dog Anti-Rabies camp, we discussed Hasmukh case with another trusted vet of ours and gained in optimism when we learnt that a paralysed dog can be brought to feet by giving him a course of homeopathic medicines for a month, which can also be aided by an allopathic medicine named Methycobal (to be given morning and evening). Excited and optimistic, we got the medicines that very night.

29 September 2011: The fickleness of life came to the fore. We went to feed Hasmukh that noon and saw a sight that scared the wits out of us.  He had a big gaping wound with pus…on the pelvic region of the right hind leg just next to the tail and there were flies hovering around that portion, fearful that maggots would infest him, we got him to our home and took him to our trusted vet (Who had prescribed the homeopathic dose the previous day). It was in that visit to the vet, that all our optimism gathered through the previous day came to nought, the vet examined his back portion and told us that as per his analysis, he had a spine fracture and it was due to that spinal fracture, that Hasmukh’s hind legs had been rendered immobile, though we did believe that from day 1 till now, he had started feeling few sensations back…The vet gave his verdict, Hasmukh should be put to sleep if the spine fracture gets confirmed, his life would be full of misery otherwise.

Shocked! We asked our vet two questions…what was that big gaping wound that had come up on his hind leg? “Its a bedsole”, the vet answered…”it will not get healed”, he said and rather such bedsoles will gradually form on different portions of the legs in times to come as bedsoles happen when the body is immobile”.

Hasmukh's bedsole

Our next question, can a spinal fracture be healed? And our vet answered, “No, not even in humans…though there are surgeries these days for humans, but the chances of surviving the surgeries are remote and the risks too many as even one nerve getting hurt during the operation, can paralyse the whole body”.

Our hopes crashed that night and we got Hasmukh home back with us, and gave us a cushiony mattress, food and lots of love over the next two days. We wanted him to live the best days of his life.

Hasmukh comes home

…on 1 October 2011, the whole evening, Hasmukh for the first time, made us hear his voice, he was talking or crying in pain, we would never know…but he wanted us to sit next to him and only then would he be quiet else he would start those voices again.

2 October 2011: We had planned to get Hasmukh’s Spinal Cord X rays done and we did. Only to see the terrible condition in which his spine had been fractured. See below, the overlapping fractured bones and the 1 inch gap between the fractured overlapping portions.

Hasmukh's Spinal Cord X-ray: The Final Verdict!

Hasmukh stood no chance of recovery and his bedsole was only increasing in girth. To relieve him off his pain and suffering, with a stone on our hearts, we decided to let him go. All animals go to heaven is what we believe and so would Hasmukh, we knew.

A lingering question pained us no end…How did Hasmukh fracture his spine so badly? Clearly because a senseless driver in hurry had not bothered to look underneath his car where Hasmukh might have been resting on that fateful day, the car romped over him.

Rest in peace dear Hasmukh.

Rest in Peace dear Hasmukh

The ten days that you spent with us gave us a lesson for life. Your patience was admirable, your spirit indomitable and needless to say, your smile was lovely and thats why we named you ‘Hasmukh’.

And to all of you reading this, just remember to pass this word on, that the next time you turn your car’s ignition on to embark on a road journey, please spare a moment to peep underneath your car to check if an animal like Hasmukh is resting underneath your car, next to the tyre or flat on the ground under the shade of the car.

Try to shoo that resting animal away by blowing a horn or making some other strange noise to scare him away, atleast that will ensure that the beginning of your road journey is not the end of someone’s journey of life.

Shoo the dog away if he is sleeping underneath your car, lest you drive over him and crush its bones (Courtesy: http://www.bkkpetfoto.com)

Please drive safely.

The joy of looking after ‘Poopy’ the pigeon

By Divya Kapur

About the author: Divya has trained as a wildlife rescuer in Sydney with Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Services. She specialises in birds and that is where she derives the confidence to continue her work in this area after having moved back to Gurgaon. She would love to share her expertise and knowledge with like minded people. Those interested in learning tips about bird care, may please contact her on divya_kapur@hotmail.com

——–

As I sat outside in my garden, thinking of my pet bird that is in Sydney, awaiting paperwork before it flies to India, a pigeon flies out of a tree and falls on the ground, as if it ran out of ‘steam’.

'Poopy' - the Pigeon (Photo Credit: Divya Kapur)

I waste no time in jumping out of my chair to take a closer look. The pigeon sits still, showing no signs of wanting to fly away. As it sees me coming closer, it starts to walk away, looking for a dark corner for comfort and safety. I immediately knew that this poor fellow is not well. By this time, I also figured that it is a female.

I wait for it to get into a corner of my patio, just behind a pedestal fan. That is when I reach out with my right hand, grab her gently from behind and turn her upside down. I hold the pigeon’s head in the cup of my left hand to keep its eyes covered. Birds are very visual. It can go into a state of panic and even shock to see itself in the hands of a human being. By covering its eyes with one hand or even with a muslin cloth, I am able to calm the bird. This way I am better able to examine it for injuries.

As I had suspected, the pigeon has hurt itself on his right foot. Not bad but it had scratched itself enough to bleed. Fortunately for me, my very helpful daughter, equally passionate about birds and animals, is home because of summer holidays. She is quick on her heels to get some cotton wool, clean water in a plastic bowl (small container in which you get soan papdi…we also believe in and encourage recycle, reuse and reduce policy) and Dettol. We gently cleaned the wound with clean water, making sure all along that the bird is calm and not stressed. I still have its eyes covered for that.  Then I cleaned it with cotton wool dipped in diluted Dettol water mix.

I then put the pigeon back in the corner where it felt safe and secure, while my daughter and I got busy in preparing a large box to house the pigeon. After all, it wouldn’t be a sound idea to leave her out in the open, unable to fly and unsupervised.

I got a cardboard box. Thank God I have plenty as I have recently moved from Sydney. Any plastic basket with holes will also do. Make sure it is large and not claustrophobic. Go by your own instinct. I lined the bottom with plastic bag, topped with a couple of newspaper sheets. Now comes the interesting bit. My daughter then spread soft leaves and grass on one half of the box, bearing in mind what the pigeon is used to in the wild. The idea is to provide the bird with what it is familiar with, to make it feel ‘at home’.

'Poopy' feels at home (Photo credit: Divya Kapur)

In one corner we put another reusable plastic container for water. Remember to put some clean stones at the bottom of the bowl so it does not tip over. Then we spread some bajra all around for the pigeon to feed on. We then carefully picked the bird up again, as before and put him in his new home to recover.

The wounds healed in about two weeks. By now, the pigeon was active and alert. She would spring up to see us walk by. Every morning and evening, I would put the box outside in the garden for the pigeon to get fresh air and see other birds. During the day, the box was placed in a covered shady spot. The water was cleaned every two days and the paper was changed every 3-4 days, depending on how much mess our little feathery patient made.

It’s been a month now and I lovingly call her ‘Poopy’. Unfortunately, the poor bird has a problem with its right wing. But the good news is that she is out of her box. She has found comfort on top of our linen cupboard and that is where she lives along with its water and food bowl. I am not surprised at her natural instinct to be above us and in a cosy corner. That is how they live when outside.

I am still looking for an avian specialist to diagnose the problem correctly and suggest the next course of action for us. Meanwhile, I am not stressed about whether it will survive or not. That is beyond my control. All my family and I can do is keep it safe because a bird that can’t fly is a bird that will either become another bird’s dinner or run over by a car.

For now, all you bird lovers out there, I am sure you now know that it’s not difficult to look after a pigeon and definitely does not cost anything at all. You can do it yourself in the comfort of your own home. . There are lots of birds that get injured, are sick or abandoned and orphaned. It’s not difficult to look after them. All it needs is some basic knowledge, lots of enthusiasm and love.

The story of ‘Magic’ and his rescue

‘Magic’ is another of our rescued dog stories, for the story of his rescue and recovery is nothing but ‘magical’.

Last year when the Commonwealth Games 2010 ended, it was time to release the street dogs back into the games venue areas where they were picked up from and kept in at shelters for the period of the games.

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s SSCBC (Society for Stray Canine Birth Control) decided then that to ensure transparency, the release of all dogs back into their respective areas will be photographed and video-graphed as evidence to comfort all that ‘no dog was dislocated from its original territories’ in conformation with the Animal Birth Control Rules 2001 (drafted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960).

On one such Dog-release exercises happening in South Delhi, I had volunteered to be part of the Release Team and photograph/videograph the release of the dogs as per the details we had of their respective areas at the time of picking them up.

As we were releasing some dogs in the area of R.K Puram, a middle-aged lady came up to me and pointed to a dog that had taken shelter in a shop of his rag-dealer husband. She told me ‘Take him, he has lost his eye’. I asked what happened and went close by, only to see something that I had not imagined. The left side of this male dog’s face was completely chewn apart by maggots and so was his left eye and we all could literally peep into his jaw, see his tongue and it was to say the least, a painful sight.

I requested the MCD Dog Catchers who were accompanying me in the Release vehicle to help catch that dog, but this was not a rescue for the faint-hearted and they couldn’t catch him and he ran far far away.

MCD's dog catcher tries to catch the maggot infested dog 'Magic' but he resists the catching attempt and runs away -Image Copyright: Jaagruti

Next day morning, we at ‘Jaagruti’ decided to make another trip to that area as that lady had shared with me that the maggot-infested dog stays in and around their shop only.

After a few minutes of searching for him, we were able to locate this dog, but now came the big challenge of how to win this dog’s confidence and pick him up to keep him in our car…we had done this before, but this time around we needed some help and help did come to us in the form of the rag-dealer husband of that lady, who was friendly with that dog and helped pick him up and place him in our car. We had used the tried and tested trick of covering his eyes with a cloth and tying a leash around his neck…but then mayhem was to follow as this dog kept running up and down in our car and was scratching his face with the windowpanes, visibly in pain with the maggots tearing into his flesh, oozing blood all over.

We then called upon the ambulance from the Animal Hospital we at ‘Jaagruti’ support through monetary and in-kind contributions and requested them to help us with this rescue case. To our good fortune, their ambulance was nearby…and then we were successfully able to transfer this dog from our car into the ambulance and off he was sent to the hospital.

'Magic' after being put in the Animal Ambulance- Image Copyright: 'Jaagruti'

In the case of any other animal hospital in any part of Delhi or the world, such a severe case of maggot infested dog would have perhaps been euthanized or as they say’ peacefully put to sleep’ and we at ‘Jaagruti’ were prepared to hear that from our trusted vet too, but that wasn’t to be as the docs decided to give it a shot and then began the ‘magical’ treatment of this dog, whom we chose to name ‘Magic’…perhaps because his recovery was magical news for us and also because the name of the dreaded maggots who made this dog’s life hell started that way as well!

As ‘Magic’ underwent treatment, on day 1 his maggots and wound were cleared, on day 2 he was put on drips because with all the maggot clearing medicines going into his mouth, he had stopped eating food through his mouth…the glucose drips continued till day 4 and then came the good news, that Magic had started taking his food himself..

'Magic' on the road to recovery at the Animal Hospital - Image Copyright: 'Jaagruti'

Another month of treatment and recovery followed and on Day 40, he was released back into his area where he was welcomed back by the area residents, all astonished and pleased that he had recovered and so were we!

'Magic' in the ambulance post recovery and before being released back into his area -Day 40 (Image Copyright: 'Jaagruti')