Once upon a time, Piggu, a dog so named for his pig-like ears, could have died along with his four siblings, in a desolate patch of the national capital like thousands that meet the same sad end. Strays are afterall invisible to many people whose lives remain unaffected by the misery of another living being, even if an animal.
But fate had other plans for Piggu – a house, a new life, and a new name.
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In April this year, Anjali Kakati found the five puppies on an evening stroll in the Aastha Kunj Park in Delhi, during which she also feeds strays in an isolated wilderness opposite the Park.
“We were feeding some older dogs nearby when my helper and I noticed five puppies. They were very young and without a mother. As soon as we whistled and called them, they came running toward us. From that day on, we started feeding them.
“The plan was to get them vaccinated in a few days but before we could take them to the vet, tragedy struck,” shares Anjali, in conversation with The Better India (TBI).
For the past 15 years, Anjali has been feeding and providing shelters for stray dogs in Delhi as part of “Each One Feed One”, a charity she started after adopting her first pup. Currently, the charity feeds over 70 dogs across Delhi regularly.
One day, two of the puppies from the litter died for no apparent reason and the other three got extremely sick. As soon as Anjali discovered that they were in a serious condition, she rushed them to a dog shelter in Delhi. A blood test was done and the doctors diagnosed Parvovirus in all three puppies.
The contagious canine virus is spread by direct or indirect contact with their faeces and causes vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss and lack of appetite. In case of the Delhi stray pups, it also resulted in them passing blood with their faeces.
Urgent treatment was necessary and the vets prescribed a costly Canglob P serum injection to be administered daily to each pup for the next consecutive five days. The injections and residential expense would cost Anjali Rs 40,000. At this point, she had to make a decision. She decided to pay the amount upfront, and later claim it via crowdfunding.
Explaining the medical situation, the IT official says, “The serum shots worked wonders and the kids started recovering.
They stayed at the hospital for another 20 days for their recovery. Meanwhile, we started searching for people who would adopt them. Unfortunately, no one turned up.”
Anjali, finding no other place to leave the little ones, had no option but to leave them near the place they came from. She was especially worried for the tiniest pup, who she named Piggu because it has tall standing ears like that of a pig’s. He had survived the virus but now ticks had started attacking him. Knowing that a more serious intervention was the need, Anjali got in touch with several people in the dog-rescue circle while keeping the three puppies in a paid shelter home in Delhi.
“I was put in touch with Rescue without Borders, an organisation based in New Jersey founded by Shilpa Gadde. The organisation has found forever homes in the US for many of the rescued street dogs from India,” Anjali says, adding that she had a humongous task ahead of her. The cost of transporting the dogs from Delhi to New Jersey would be a total of Rs 2 lakh. Time was slipping from her hands and she had to make a decision quickly. Once again, she crowdfunded the entire amount.
On 13 July, Piggu travelled ahead of his siblings who were to follow him on 23 August.
Within a month, Rescue Without Borders found Piggu a home. Melian Lody, who has already adopted a husky and four cats, was only too happy to open the doors of her home to the young Indian Pariah from Delhi.
Speaking to TBI, Melian says, “I stumbled upon the ad on a website called Petfinder. I actually wasn’t seriously looking for another dog at the time. My boyfriend and I had planned to wait until next summer to get another dog. I was mainly just browsing, trying to decide what breeds I’m most fond of, and then I came across his ad.”
They met Piggu in New Jersey through Rescue Without Borders.
“At the time, he was very skinny and very much lacking muscle. He had a hard time before he was able to fly over. He is a parvovirus survivor and he was just getting over tick fever,” she says adding that although it has been just a couple of weeks since the adoption, the Indian Pariah has been welcomed by the animals at Melian’s home. He has already started showing signs of recovery!
Piggu, rechristened Henwen after a Welsh fable character, who now lives a happy life with a loving family, has come a long way from the pitiful condition he had been found in April 2019. Anjali’s timely action helped save the lives of three dogs, a feat that many should emulate. She is hopeful that just like Piggu, the other two also find forever homes.
We are hopeful too.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)