Welcome to Darjeeling Animal Shelter
How An Animal Shelter in Darjeeling Grew from Nothing
On an ordinary day in 1994, Christine and Jeremy Townend, living in Darjeeling, took a stroll down the street. There they witnessed a dog, dying of strychnine poisoning, and later discovered from a local resident, Dr. G.S.Yonzone, that dogs were being poisoned by the Municipality in order to control the spread of rabies. Dr.Yonzone called a meeting of Darjeeling leaders, and at the meeting it was resolved to start an animal shelter. Thus Darjeeling Goodwill Animal Shelter Trust was started and registered with the Government of India. The trustees then talked with the Chairman of the Municipality, who agreed that the council would stop poisoning dogs if an Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme was started in Darjeeling town. An ABC programme involved catching dogs, vaccinating them against rabies, spaying them with keyhole flank spay, and, after a full recovery, putting the dogs back on the street in the place they were caught. This way, the dogs guarded their biological niche, and new dogs, potential rabies vectors, did not enter the town.
It was at this time that Muriel Arnal of One Voice, sent an email to Christine Townend, suggesting a shelter should be built, which could be funded by One Voice. The only piece of land which could be afforded by the trust, was steeply sloping and swampy, at Le Bong on the outskirts of Darjeeling. However, a skilled architect, Mr. Ashok Pradhan, arranged for an analysis of the soil, and explained that the shelter could be built on the sloping land. Dr. Naveen Pandey, a qualified vet, worked with Mr.Pradhan to construct the shelter, preserving gardens which could collect water, together with a gully that enabled water to return to the creek, supplying houses below. The shelter was constructed with the intention of limiting work to the carrying out of an ABC programme. However, it was not long before local people began to bring their animals for treatment, or to ring up and ask the shelter staff to rescue a dog or puppy, dying on the street. No more dogs have been poisoned and to date more than thousands of dogs have passed through the ABC programme.
A shelter for all the furry ones and respite for the ones in need
Founded by Dr. Christine Townend in the year 1992 for the sole purpose of Animal Birth Control of street dogs that were suffering with genital problems , skin conditions and overburdened with a litter of puppies that were neither adopted nor fostered. The female dogs and litter of puppies had to succumb a life of despair and cruelty because the locals feared of rabies and female dogs procreating time and again. About 22 years ago, rabies, a fatal disease/virus was on the rise in India and in these two Indian districts under West Bengal, Kalimpong and Darjeeling. In order to curb street dog meance and its population that was multiplying often and wipe out rabies, the local Municiplality was poisoning dogs with strychnine. But it was studied, with such a step by the Municipality (a cruel method) there was still no end to the dog population. Dr. Townend then on her summer visit to these towns approached the Municipality seeing all the horros of street dogs being poisoned and with multiple ailments, viral diseases, mange and genitalia issues such as TVT (Trasnsmissible Venreal Tumour). She presented the Municipality the Animal Birth Control Programme based on WHO guidelines, the most humane and effective approach in curbing the street dog population. Furthermore, she explained how the ABC Prg. would also help in eradicating rabies. The Municipality unanimously agreed to this approach then a new hope of positivity dawned on Dr. Christine by starting an animal shelter with a dispensary set-up for the near future well-being of street dogs where animals could be treated, rescued, caught for sterilisation and sheltered post-operative care for a few days and then be released. With this, Kalimpong Animal Shelter enacted the ABC Programme in 1998 and a few years later, the same Programme was extended to Darjeeling Goodwill Animal Shelter, a sister shelter. Eventually, the Programme carried out with mass sensitisation on locals and community where the staff members started huge vaccination drives against rabies and sterilisation camps in towns and villages travelling even to the remotest of villages to enlighten people about the benefits of spay and neuter programme.