A corporate employees’ volunteer group called ‘CorPawRate’ works with the management of special economic zones (SEZ) in and around Pune for the welfare of dogs that live within their premises.
So far they have been working with Embassy and Capitaland’s managements for the last 5 years. Their activities include feeding the dogs in and around these tech parks and getting them sterilised. They also organise deworming, tick & flea control, and vaccination drives every year in partnership with well-known veterinary doctors in the area.
All the food is sponsored by the members of the core group, while other members pay a nominal monthly contribution that is used as an emergency reserve. Funds for the other activities too come from either the emergency reserve, donations from group members, or fundraising campaigns.
MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR STRAY DOGS
In several SEZs, stray dogs can also be found with injuries or illnesses. So the team gets them treated either onsite – in case of dogs with severe skin problems – or they are admitted to a veterinary hospital. For instance, in 2022 one of the dogs was diagnosed with TVT and several others were injured due to accidents, dog bite wounds, or other issues. Their treatment was done in collaboration with other NGOs like Resq and Petsforce.
One such success story is of Christiano, a black puppy who was hit by a vehicle and suffered a spinal compression, which prevented him from standing up for weeks. After CorPawRate rescued and got him treated, Christiano made a full recovery and is one of the largest and friendliest dogs on campus… he has a lot of fans!
In cases where the dogs can’t continue surviving in these areas, the team also works on getting them adopted. For instance, in 2021 two puppies which had illegally been relocated from some shops opposite Qubix SEZ were rescued by members of CorPawRate. Named Moh and Maya, the puppies were fostered while they underwent treatment for skin issues. Once cured, they were adopted into a farmhouse near Pune where they are living a happy and active life to date!
Naturally, such complex operations come with their own set of challenges, especially since the dogs are inside SEZs:
1. Convincing the managements of various SEZ areas about the importance of living in harmony with stray dogs is a major issue
2. Finding volunteers to feed and care for the dogs is also a huge challenge because employees working for various corporate companies and are on-site only for a few hours each day
“The pandemic and lockdown also proved a major challenge as most of our volunteers left for their hometowns and travel restrictions made it difficult for those still in Pune to get to the office campus,” wrote Writa Bhattacharjee on behalf of CorPawRate. Even then, the dogs did not go hungry; the volunteers who were available went to the office complex to feed them after getting the necessary police permissions. “When travelling was absolutely impossible, we coordinated with the SEZ security personnel as a special situation to get food to the dogs,” she added.
FORGING THE PATH FOR A DOG-FRIENDLY FUTURE
The team seems to have found effective solutions to tackle such issues, a lot of which revolve around spreading awareness.
A major step in the right direction was in 2018 when Mr Nitesh Khare, the then Animal Welfare Officer of Pune declared a certain SEZ as a human-animal conflict-free zone. “Since then we have had several meetings with the managements and tenants of various SEZs to address concerns regarding dogs, as well as circulated information on how to coexist peacefully with the dogs on campus,” said Write.
After the pandemic, when employees started returning to campus, CorPawRate also worked with a canine behaviourist to ensure harmony on campus between dogs and humans.
On a regular basis, they also put out newsletters detailing their activities and use social media as a tool to educate & help more SEZs and corporates about living a conflict-free coexistence with dogs.
IN THE HOPE OF REGISTERING AS AN NGO
The key to running a successful operation is, “Transparency, democracy and accountability. To that effect, all our major decisions are taken after discussion by the core committee. We also have semi-annual GMs where we discuss our activities and plans; the minutes are then circulated to all our members. Similarly, we share monthly accounts with all our members as well,” Write stated.
For the last several years, the team has been documenting their activities and accounts rigorously in anticipation of registering as a Trust, but the pandemic put a dent in that. However, they are determined to become an official NGO soon, so that they can continue to work with and help many other SEZs and corporates, and the canines residing in these campuses.
VOSD admires the initiative CorPawRate has taken to tackle dog-human conflict in these zones and wishes the team a bright future so they can help stray dogs lead lives of dignity, safety, and good health!