Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Dogs Trust Busmans Holidays: volunteering at Animal Tracks, Goa

If you ever follow our the blog of our lovely Chief Executive, Clarissa Baldwin, you'll know that Dogs Trust staff often take their work with them on holiday; that is, plenty have ditched the beach in favour of volunteering at an animal rescue centre in the country they're visiting.

Once such recent trip was undertaken by Rosanna Boylan. As head of the Freedom Project in the UK, she is one of a team helping families escape domestic violence by finding foster care for their pets. She's also 'mum' to Yorkie Cross Charlie, who's also had his say on this blog. Here is the story of Rosanna's trip to Goa, India, in her own words:
"Animal Tracks is the name of the International Animal Rescue Centre in Assagao, Goa, India. It is run by a wonderful husband and wife team called John and Jo Hicks along with a permanent team of approx 23 local staff and a continual supply of overseas volunteers, mainly British, who tend to stay a couple of months at a time.

"I’ve seen it develop from a little bungalow with outside cages to a permanent structure with proper kennels and veterinary clinic. Ten years ago Goa had a serious problem with stray dogs and cats and the council often reverted to poisoning them at the end of the holiday season when the charter flights stopped and all the tourists returned home. Most of the animals stayed alive because they got fed by holidaymakers eating at the beach shacks but as these close during the monsoon season, many dogs sadly starved. You also saw lots of animals with hideous injuries and flea/worm riddled puppies and of course lots of mange. Besides a very effective sterilisation programme Animal Tracks offer a 7 day a week vet clinic for pet owners to bring there animals or anyone who finds an injured animal on the roadside. It’s a very inspiring place to visit and always an eye opener as sometimes people are bringing in snakes and/or monkeys. John has a particular love of monkeys and now runs a monkey sanctuary at his personal home in Goa which can prove difficult at times as the male ones tend to get territorial with his wife and try to keep her out of the bedroom! They insist on going in there to watch the TV!

"The volunteers are essential so that the 130 so dogs get walked every day. These (mainly street dogs) are the humblest sweetest natured dogs you will ever meet. In the past - Ive been visiting since they opened - I've normally just walked the dogs as well as always bringing much needed medical supplies in addition to leads, collars, washable toys, harnesses etc. This time I met a lovely English solicitor called Lucy who was spending 3 months there and she was in charge of the puppy section so I had the privilege of washing puppies and combing fleas out. Since last year they’ve built a puppy pen and all the puppies get a turn outside for a couple of hours.

"It really is worth a visit for anyone taking a holiday in Goa, just be sure to bring plenty of treats to give the nervous dogs that just need a cuddle in their pen."
You can see more pictures of the dogs from Rosanna's trip in the International Events and Visits set of our Flickr stream.

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