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Shelter Or Suffering?
(As this article is now out of date, none of the links work)

The High Court has ordered the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) to remove the 30,000+ cattle that currently roam and forage on the streets of the capital. This is part of the continuing development plans for Delhi and should be of benefit to the city residents and the street cows. But behind the scenes all is not well, the cattle shelters where the cows are being re-homed are overcrowded, badly managed, have severe shortages of water and food. The conditions are so bad that life expectancy for the captive cattle is actually much shorter than for the cattle left on the city streets. We have come across many cattle exceeding 10 years of age on the streets – and yet it can take as little as a couple of weeks for those same animals to be killed by starvation or only a couple of days to be killed by dehydration.

JBF has been running its charity in Delhi India for three years providing free veterinary aid for the street cattle. The clearing of the street cattle has been on the cards for many years, but due to the

View Pictures
To see the conditions inside the shelter CLICK HERE.

scale of the problem and the fact that many people depend on the street cattle for milk and their livelihood means matters have never progressed with any pace. But after a high court judgment recently which demanded the immediate clearing of the cattle, the streets of Delhi have been rumbling with the sound of MCD trucks rushing around to clear the cattle.

At JBF we do agree that the street cattle must removed from this modern city, as the roads and streets are no place for an animal that would be more at home in the fields and farms that surround the capital. We of course have seen at first hand the injuries and problems the cattle sustain in a street environment, with traffic accidents common, both man and cow have been finding it harder to live side by side in what is one of the world’s busiest cities.

JBF recently visited some of the five Gou Shala’s (Cattle Shelters) of Delhi, where the majority of cattle are being re-homed. Unfortunately, what we found in most cases, could not be described as ‘Shelter’ of these animals, the condition inside being illegal under Indian law, making these far from ideal places to deposit the holy cows of Delhi.

Send an email to Commissioner Mehta to express your concerns. CLICK HERE. To find out more.

One such establishment is the Manav Gou Sadan, in the south of the city. We were so shocked by what we found that we immediately offered to visit with our veterinary team once a week to try and help improve matters for the cattle. Unfortunately, despite devoting one day a week entirely to this shelter, the management were unwilling to follow even our most basic advice, preferring instead to chat about ‘Visitor Facilities’ that they have planned as a method of improving their income.

Eventually we sent the management a letter to explain in detail what we thought were the main causes of suffering in their shelter and supplied simple solutions which we felt would improve matters dramatically. Surprisingly, we were told that we were no longer welcome to make our visits – we were even asked “Who do you think you are, you are not even donating money to our shelter!” And I think there you have the underlying cause for their reluctance to make changes – it’s all about money. Grants are given for every cow taken in to the shelter, but it is not a large amount and so the short life span of the inmates is advantageous from a maintenance cost point of view..

It is sad to report that after 12 months of weekly visits, the changes that Manav has implemented are minimal. It is true to say that nothing has really changed for those animals deposited there from the streets. Inside, most of the animals are showing extreme signs of being underfed and malnourished. On many days water was not available to them - even in 40c heat, and we found many dead cattle which where left to decay in the sun. Most of the cattle were finding it hard to move around due to being dehydrated or having injuries and disease caused by there conditions. Any food that was provided was inadequate for the animal’s nutritional daily intake, and was often just placed in a heap, leaving cattle to barge and trample over the weakest in a desperate bid to get to what food was made available.

Many of the staff at the facility seemed to be untrained and lacking basic cattle handling skills. The vet which we found for Manav was left unpaid and so quit his post several months ago. Since then the facility has been without any veterinary care – and yet this is a place which houses between 900 and 1,200 animals. Even while the vet was with Manav, his supplies were inadequate and his suggestions went largely unheeded.

Watch The Video
CLICK HERE To watch the video. (10 minutes)

These conditions are totally unnecessary; the Shelter receives Government grants to cover the costs of the cattle care based on the number of cattle they can hold. The Sudan’s also receive generous donations of money and food from private people who hold the cow in great esteem. We were constantly told by Manav management that there was no money for improvements, so why did they continue to take more and more animals? We suggested that if they were unable to provide adequately for the number already at the shelter, then it was cruel to add to the misery by taking in more animals. Our advice fell on deaf ears as cattle still arrives on a regular basis – replacing the dead animals that are taken away.

So how is it all going wrong? And why is the government not clamping down on the way these shelters are run?. We can only speculate that the money that is meant for the cattle is being very badly managed and that certainly much of the money is being fraudulently misused.

Even when the authorities do make an inspection of these places, their reports seem to bare little resemblance to the reality of the situation. It would appear that there is a general atmosphere of allowing this cruelty to continue as long as nobody makes a fuss and upsets the routine.

JBF aims to expose this situation to as many people as possible, in the government, at MCD and the general public, as we believe that once this is out in the open for as many people as possible to see it will no longer be possible for the authorities to overlook their responsibilities. This will put much needed pressure on the shelters to act in a humane and compassionate way towards these cattle, and on the inspectors of shelters to ensure that these sanctuary's are being run as they are intended.

We have produced a short film which covers much of this story and also shows the conditions inside the Manav Gou Sadan, we need your help to let people know what is going on, if you know people who would be interested, please pass a copy of the video onto them or direct them to our website were they can send an e-mail to the relevant Delhi government department, voicing there concern about this situation. It will only take a few minutes of your time and really will help to make the difference.

photo of sick calf

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