This is an eyewitness account of Dr. Vibhuti Sharda. After we published the article here it turns out that she’s been working on this issue on the ground for months. Dr Vibhuti is the quintessential dog lover with the quintessential dog lovers traits – discovers an atrocity – runs to the administration which turns a blind eye – courts still taking a view of the matter – as a last resort connects to Menaka Gandhi to get something moving.
Oct 2011 visits to the Shimla Municipal Pound
- 1st October 2011 [50 dogs alive]: She visited the dog shelter in Shimla, run by the Municipal Corporation (M.C.) and found that over 50 dogs were huddled up in 2 enclosures while 8 other enclosures were lying empty. There was no caretaker when she arrived and she had to call him. She verbally requested the caretaker to move the dogs to the vacant enclosures.
- 21 Oct Dr Vibhuti [40 dogs alive]: Dogs still in relatively healthy condition in the enclosure – but they were overcrowded, underfed and neglected. She’d requested the caretaker to put dogs in the vacant shelters – evidently to no avail. You have seen the published pictures of the dogs thrown left over spicy food – but Dr. Vibhuti Sharda has seen starving dog eating radish, onions and orange peels driven by hunger.
March 2012 visit to the Shimla Municipal pound
3rd March 2012 [16 dogs alive]: Dr Vibhuti visited again and the number of dogs in the pound had fallen to 16 and the conditions of the dog had dramatically deteriorated with malnutrition and mange.
All 16 dogs were found in the pound all huddled up in one enclosure, all of them diseased with evident mange and starvation. They were clearly deprived of food, medical treatment, living space and protection from extreme weather condition. The sanitary condition of the shelter was appalling – the enclosures had probably never been cleaned.
She saw 2 dog carcasses – the 1st in a garbage dumpster outside the shelter and the 2nd inside a shed in that very enclosure which had housed about 40 dogs in October. This shed of 40 dogs earlier had only 1 dog carcass now.
She then spoke to a doctor who was responsible for the treatment of those dogs, who told her that the shelter was intended to house 500 dogs so they were merely experimenting! His nonchalance about the issue was enough to make Dr Vibhuti deduce why those dogs had been allowed to suffer till they were mere skeletons lying around waiting for death.
Finally she approached the Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, who initially tried to refute her claims. When she offered to show him the pictures his total effort was to call veterinary doctor in charge to “look into the matter”. He also said that he did not ‘have time for this’. He complained that the MC had invited N.G.Os to take over the functioning of the shelter but none had responded – which can’t be an excuse to give those dogs such cruel and slow death.
7 March 2012 she found the caretaker missing again. Out of those the 16 dogs, 10 had been shifted to the M.C’s veterinary hospital for treatment, however 6 dogs were still there, out of which 5 were in a critical condition. When the caretaker was reached he explained that the vehicle can carry only 2-3 dogs and not all could be sent to the hospital!
- 8 March 2012 [14 dogs alive]: Dr Vibhuti’s friends visited the pound and that report is published here. 2 of 6 dogs that had been left behind had died.
- 11 March 2012 [9 dogs alive]: Dr Vibhuti reports of the 16 dogs that she saw on 3 March only 9 survive!
The Voice of Stray Dogs made the 1st public announcement of the excesses of GHMC – but that ‘movement’ spiraled out of control with mostly ‘Facebook’ activists with little connection to the people on the ground. In Shimla it would be a damn good idea to pool resources of volunteers and animal lovers together for these stray dogs: work at the pound, on the legal/administrative battle & on documenting the horrors of Shimla. Get in touch with Dr. Vibhuti Sharda on Vibhuti.firstname.lastname@example.org and make a difference to Shimla’s unfortunate dogs.