September 25, 2008

Piyara Kutta: Love your Dog? Donate Old Collars to Support Rabies Vaccinations and Awareness in India.

Photo by: Rick Reynolds

With so many doting owners and pals to play with in the many open spaces, Boulder, Colorado is absolute heaven for dogs. However, when Deb Jarrett was volunteering in Dharamsala, India, she encountered a much different reality. Having spent a month there volunteering with children, she was taken aback by how she passed a different dying dog every day on her way to the pre-school where she was working. She saw little being done about this until she met Arvind Sharma, a local man trying to do everything in his power to change the way India treats its animals.

Arvind explained to her the situation. Most dogs in Dharamsala are stray or abandoned where they are left to suffer and die from injury and disease, as there in no formal veterinary care in the entire state of Himachal Pradesh. In July of 2006, the town of Mcleod Ganj (Upper Dharamsala and home to the Dalai Lama) issued a mass killing of dogs by poisoning to control the population.

In response, Arvind formed the nonprofit Himalayan Nature Society to organize volunteer vets, begin a spay and neuter program and shelter and rescue strays. He also is working to vaccinate the dogs against rabies. This is of utmost importance to connect the treatment of animals to the local community. Rabies is of concern in India, where a bite from a stray dog with the disease could result in death if the nearest hospital doesn’t have the medicine for treatment. It is estimated that 20,000 people die of rabies each year in India.

Deb was amazed at how her care for one particular dog, Tommy, caused a stir in her local village. Her attention as a Westerner began to change local attitudes, a challenge that Arvind had been facing. Her “aha” moment came when she saw that she could form a Boulder-based nonprofit to support this change in India.

Her organization, called Piyara Kutta (“Beloved Dog” in Hindi) is partnering on an initial project with the Himalayan Nature Society to do a mass vaccination and awareness day on September 28th which is the United Nations World Rabies Day. On this date, it will be necessary to start identifying the dogs that have been vaccinated. This is where you can help. You can donate your dog’s old collars and tags at Farfel’s Farm at 906 Pearl Street. Those who don’t live in Colorado may contact Deb Jarrett at: [email protected] regarding a mailing address for donations.

Piyara Kutta is also fundraising to purchase vaccines, a rescue vehicle, clinic, recruit volunteer vets and implement a community education program in India. Currently it costs $80 US dollars to purchase 100 rabies vaccines in India.

Check out more at Piyara Kutta’s site and Facebook group and click here to make a donation.

I was so happy to be introduced to Deb and Arvind and appreciate their work in promoting the welfare of both humans and animals and restoring this connection. I look forward to supporting their organizations and seeing the progress that they are sure to make.

Photo by: Arvind Sharma

Photo of Tommy by: Deb Jarrett

Photo by: Rick Reynolds

Photo by: Rick Reynolds

Photo by: Rick Reynolds

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