Vathmeekam: A refuge for strays to know what’s it like to be taken care of

There are 37 strays at Vathmeekam now.

Moovattupuzha: At Vathmeekam, all 37 of them are incredibly happy. Finally, they are home. These homeless strays who had to fight for food with no one to pamper them, have finally realised what’s it like to be taken care of. They can swim in the pond, play on the ground, sleep peacefully and howl without disruption. And they are also fed properly. At Vathmeekam, they feel loved and secure. There are strays with severed limbs, abandoned when they grew old, and orphans. Around 36 of them.

Vathmeekam, the home for strays is at Moovattupuzha. And they all have been given lovable names—Kithab, Chekkan, Munni, Balaraman, Chandi, Sreekutty, Padmi, Thomas, Akitha, Punyalan. No one at Vathmeekam will forget Kallu who was brought here with uterine inversion after her delivery. She had to undergo complicated surgery after getting admitted to Vathmeekam. Another one is Paranthak who was thrown into the river with his face tied up in a plastic cover.

Ramesh Pulickan, his wife Ambili Puraykal, and son Keshav Ramesh are the caretakers of Vathmeekam. When they built a new house in Moovattupuzha, they decided to leave some space to rehabilitate strays. Since they are also in charge of Daya, an organization for animal protection, they are required to take care of abused animals on a daily basis.

The menu at Vathmeekam is nutritious—it starts with milk and biscuits, a biryani made of chicken and rice for lunch, and at times fish curry as well. Chandi who weighs 32 kilos thanks to this diet is a regular blood donor now. Daya Animal Welfare Organization was started 20 years ago.

How to help a stray pet

Catch them safely: A strange, frightened, and possibly sick or injured animal can behave unpredictably. A sudden move on your part, even opening your car door, can spook them and cause them to bolt—possibly right onto the highway. If the animal looks or acts threateningly, or if you feel uneasy about the situation, stay in your car. If possible, restrain the animal. Create a barrier or use a carrier, leash, piece of cloth, or length of rope to keep the animal in the area. Signal approaching vehicles to slow down if you cannot confine the animal or divert traffic around them if they appear to be injured and is still on the roadway.

Approach the animal with caution: Should you succeed in getting close enough to capture them, you stand a good chance of being scratched or bitten. When moving toward the animal, speak calmly to reassure them. Make sure they can see you at all times as you approach, and perhaps entice them to come to you by offering a strong-smelling food.

If you're not able to safely restrain the animal, call the local animal control agency (in rural areas, call the police). Do so whether or not the animal is injured, and whether or not they are wearing an identification tag. Leave your phone number with the dispatcher and try to get an estimate of how long it may take someone to respond. If possible, stay on the scene to keep an eye on the dog or cat until help arrives. Make sure you report to authorities precisely where the animal is by using road names, mile markers, or landmarks. No matter which one, the common tendency for strays is to have truly little to eat. So the first thing to do with strays– even if you feel like a bath is definitely first on the list– is to feed them and give them clean water.


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