Treatment funds buy ambulance for pets

A fashion photographer and pet parent has turned a messiah for ailing pets, especially those that need emergency care in the middle of the night, in a city where such services are rare.

By Chandreyee Ghose
  • Published 14.09.18
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Arijit Mukherjee and his pet Labrador Toby in front of the ambulance for pets outside the Salt Lake clinic. Picture by Mayukh Sengupta

Salt Lake: A fashion photographer and pet parent has turned a messiah for ailing pets, especially those that need emergency care in the middle of the night, in a city where such services are rare.

Arijit Mukherjee has been running a veterinary clinic, Cats n Dogs, in Salt Lake that also offers mobile care to pets for the past three months.

Mukherjee started out by going to pets in distress in his own car, with a vet in tow, between 9pm and 5am when few veterinarians are available.

Next on his agenda was an 24x7 ambulance service for pets. The photographer, who was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2015, used a part of the money he had set aside for his treatment to buy a second-hand ambulance from an NGO in Jhargram last month.

"I had approached many people for a loan to buy the ambulance but had no luck. I decided to skip a follow-up check-up and precautionary treatment to buy the ambulance instead," said Mukherjee, who paid Rs 60,000 for the vehicle.

"Initially, the night vet and I would make the rounds in my own cars (an Audi and a Maruti Swift), armed with medicines, anaesthetic injections and basic surgery equipment. We went as far as Habra, Baruipur, Garden Reach and Thakurpukur," Mukherjee said.

Asked what spurred him, Mukherjee said: "I have had dogs since my childhood and lost two of them to post-operative negligence. The city lacks ambulance service or proper medical care for sick animals, especially at night."

The ambulance is fitted with surgery equipment, medicines and an oxygen cylinder. "We will also add an USG facility soon," he said. Mukherjee charges Rs 500 to Rs 1,500 for emergency service at night.

Media consultant Aditi Chowdhury and husband Sumit, residents of Mahamayatala near Garia, are among the earliest benefactors of Mukherjee's miracle service.

The couple met him on a "horror Friday" when their pet Labrador fell seriously ill in the middle of the night and wouldn't stop throwing up.

"Our vet was not available on phone that late. My dog was vomiting, bleeding and getting weaker by the hour. We don't have a car and did not know where to take her for treatment," Aditi said.

A frantic search online yielded little result. The couple finally took the Labrador to an animal shelter off EM Bypass at 6am. "The shelter authorities told us they treat only stray dogs but a vet there referred us to a 24-hour clinic in Salt Lake that offers mobile emergency service," Aditi said.

The Salt Lake clinic run by Mukherjee can treat four dogs at a time and boasts an operating room and a USG facility. Pet parents can keep their canine babies at the clinic till they recuperate.

Homemaker Dona Poddar of Rashbehari Avenue needed help one midnight when her four-year-old golden retriever started passing blood with urine. "The vet advised immediate USG. I connected with Mukherjee on Facebook and got immediate help," she said.

A clinic in Lake Gardens has been offering similar service to pets in emergencies. "We get at least two to three late calls a week from helpless pet parents. We prefer that owners bring their pets to our clinic," said Ravneet Kaur of Pawsome.