A British couple, Mary and Steve Muscroft has taken upon themselves to take care of sick stray dogs in the god’s own country (kerala). Since last 10 years they have been taking care of numerous stricken stray dogs in Kovalam beach, kerala. The couple came at Kovalam for a two-week holiday trip but fell in love with two rescue puppies and decided to stay here forever.
They have around 100 dogs and run an animal clinic with 3 staff members. They have set up Street Dog Watch Association – an organisation that rescues stricken dogs and feeds, vaccinates and sterilises the area’s strays.
Mary, a singer and former RSPCA volunteer from Middlesex said, “In no way did I envisage this would be my life. But we were never going to just sit and read and eat and drink. I don’t think anyone would ever have planned this though – that would be crazy.”
Before retiring, Steve, 59, had run a manufacturing business in Bradford.
“We weren’t well off but we were comfortable so we decided to retire while we were young enough. We didn’t have any set plans other than seeing a bit of Europe.” he says.
The couple’s first aim had been to see if they could adjust to a life without working.
“But we came here for a two-week holiday and fell in love with two rescue pups. The whole thing just snowballed. Two dogs became six, then became 12 and on and on,” Steve says.
The feeding stray dogs round got so big that a rickshaw was hired to carry all the food needed for the 15km (9 miles) trip. The rickshaw driver was Kukku, now Street Dog Watch’s clinic manager, whose family also help out.
Puppies would be found and brought back, and locals started to leave dogs at their gates.
“We found six puppies left in a plastic bag once,” Steve says.
And so began a life of sitting up through the night nursing and feeding dogs and willing them to get better if they were ill. Their dogs are housed in four large shelters, with up to 25 to a shelter.
A typical day begins by getting up and cleaning up.
“We get through a lot of pooper scoopers,” Mary says.
The dogs are fed and watered, and checks are carried out to make sure they are healthy.
Social media now plays a part, with the details of a steady stream of pups and dogs up for adoption being posted online. However, the couple do not recommend people from the UK should try to bring a dog over as it’s too expensive and too stressful for the animal.
The couple have ploughed £300,000 of their own money into Street Dog Watch Association, most of which has gone in dog care.
They regularly hold fundraisers and have been helped by family, friends and tourists who donate money to them.Sterilisations, which the couple first started to organise as the number of stray dogs was so high, have recently stopped as the money, donated by a friend, has run out.
When they first started, 633 dogs were counted around the beaches of Kovalam and Samudra.
In 2017, there were 89.
“It’s not all down to sterilisation, but it’s played its part,” Mary says.
Only healthy dogs are sterilised and the idea is to put the dogs back on the street, rather than look after them at their shelters.
“But we still see them, and check if they are healthy. There’s no shortage of food and water for them, and they are free. It might be different if it was in a city,” she says.
A crowdfunding campaign is up and running, and meetings are taking place with the local government to try to have an official licence granted.
“I want Street Dog Watch to become self-sufficient and get the local authority to help with the bill. It’s so the money people give us can go on treats for the dogs, rather than on basic care,” Steve says.
It’s been hard, and the couple say they live to a basic standard – cracked crockery is the norm – but there are no regrets.
You can donate for their cause here:-
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