Karuna was established in 1888 as ‘Bangalore Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ and was registered as a charitable society on 24th May 1916. The name of the organization has changed to ‘Karuna Animal Welfare Association of Karnataka’ on 30th September 2001. Naturally our expectations were very high to visit the ABC center of Karuna. To visit a place like Karuna, which is known in Bangalore you’d think it is a well organized ABC center, a good example for other centers – some of which the volunteers have seen and reported earlier.
The surprise started as soon as the volunteer reached the center: A dog within the shelter had somehow escaped from a cage or van. The tail between his legs was a sign that he was very scared, traumatized and just wanted to run away. The observation of the event was telling: The dog catcher came around the corner with his catching tool and it was not a net. He caught the dog again with an iron loop and dragged it the whole distance to the ‘shelter’. It was clear from the start there was not the least compassion only the ability to execute a task in a brutal clinical way.
The reception area of Karuna is not unlike standing in a hotel lobby – there’s huge entrance hall and a waiting area. One lady behind a plexi divider greeted with friendless and asked how can she help out. The volunteer explained the purpose of the visit. After a short talk with her manager the lady at the reception came back and asked the volunteer to wait because “the surgeries of ABC programs have not started”. The volunteer told her that this doesn’t matter because we’d would like to see the whole facility, not only the surgery. But the appeal was meaningless and volunteer had to wait till called in by the vet.
Looking through some small window the volunteer could see what was happening near the ABC facility. People were moving fast, some catchers moving some dogs from one building to the other, one cleaning lady started cleaning. The volunteer thought maybe that’s the normal procedure before starting the surgery.
The following were the observations of the visit:
- Facilities and OT: When called in, the volunteer was taken downstairs where there a large Operation Theater (OT). A huge room with two OT tables. It was very impressive, so far the nicest OT in Bangalore, very modern and very well equipped. Next to the OT was a room and the door was closed but the volunteer could hear some people inside. On opening the door was like going into an different world
Dogs lay on the floor of the passage and and some of them in the floor of a kennel. The volunteer was told they have been brought in today and had been sedated.The volunteer walked through the dogs and all of them looked in a very bad shape, not like dogs which were caught that same day! The volunteer checked on one poor looking brown dog amongst them – she was dead. The workers had no answers why the dead dog was with the other dogs on the same floor. The vet came and expressed his surprise. But even he couldn’t tell me why and how was this dog dead and with other dogs. They then just shifted the dog to a different area.
- Hygiene: The volunteer enquired about the poor hygiene of the kennels and why all the dogs are already sedated. The manager was confident that kennels are not “that dirty” and that the volunteer was “ exaggerating”.
- Sedation and weighing: The vet said that they have so much experience that they wouldn’t need a scale to weigh the dog for sedation they do in purely from that experience! During one of the 1st surgeries the dog undergoing surgery dog woke up!
- Shaving: The shaving part was done on the floor! The volunteer could not understand how can it be that they have a modern OT but no hygienic area to prepare the dogs for the surgery?
- Tagging: There was no tagging at all! Most of the dogs were complaint dogs and the manager said that they “always catch in the same area and that therefore tagging is not really necessary”. On the catching sheet you find the names of the complainer and the address but no details on which dog belongs to which complaint?
- Recovery: The recovery area is an outside kennel, which was acceptable in the sense of cleanliness.
- Diseased dogs: Next to the recovery area was a kennel with sick dogs, mainly skin diseases. When asking the vet he said that the dogs are here for treatment but “that some of them will be put down”.
General comments & observation: Karuna is one of the shoddiest ABC centers we’ve seen and a good example of having the best facilities goes only so far in meting out humane treatment of animals in the care of an animal welfare organization. Catching, tagging, the pre-surgery facility and the hygiene of the kennels all are below par and need dramatic improvement.