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A tireless crusade for canine care

A chorus of squeals and howls greets visitors to the four-storey building half-hidden by knots of bamboo shoots and shrubs. The kutcha road that abruptly ends at its doorstep stares at a sparsely-furnished room where some men are busy pushing saline drops into a few injured strays. Once cured of their wounds, the canines will be back on the streets. But until then, they are soaking up the attention and warmth at Love N Care, tucked away in a remote corner of Behala.

For Susmita Roy, founder of the hospital, Love N Care is the labour of her long attachment with animals since school when she would feed a pack of 60 strays daily in Paikpara. “I would put together whatever pocket money I used to get from taking tuitions and arrange for their food. Things got slightly better once I got a job after graduation. With a few friends, I would organise sterilisation and vaccination programmes in the neighbourhood. A corner of my flat would be used for post-operative care,” says the 37-year-old civil engineer from Jadavpur University.

But with neighbours protesting to such an arrangement and home proving too small for the burgeoning brood of strays, Roy shifted operations to a rented place near Poilan in 1997. “The space was adequate but not roomy or suitable enough to run a full-fledged care centre. This plot on the city’s outskirts seemed ideal as people object to animal shelters in residential areas,” Roy explains. With a central government grant and a fund flow from friends, Love N Care bloomed in the lap of nature on the secluded four-cottah plot in 2001.

“We pick up injured cats and dogs from the streets and bring them here for treatment. When they recover fully, we drop them back from where they had been found,” she says.

Now, around 65 dogs, 15 cats, two langurs, two horses and a monkey — mostly rescued from in and around the city — are lodged in the hospital with a 10-men strong staff attending to them round-the-clock. Furnished with an operating theatre (OT), an outdoor ward, a pathology unit, an isolation chamber and kennels for newborns, the hospital has a team of seven vets on its rolls, with an X-ray unit and a post-operative ward under construction. The outdoor ward on the ground floor sees a steady stream of pet-lovers. And while the first floor houses strays under birth control treatment and the spick and span OT, cats share the second floor with the hospital staff.

Treatment apart, Roy and her band of animal-lovers organise weekly health check-up camps for about 100 horses on the Maidan, a string of awareness programmes on animal care and anti-rabies vaccination and offer free cattle treatment.

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