Here’s a story from the streets of Varanasi, India, which offers a shining example of how best practices of First-Aid can go a long way toward helping animals on the streets effectively and intelligently, with minimum resources and maximum outcome!
Less than two weeks ago, Matru was bitten by two other dogs in the district of Khojwa, Varanasi.
Priyanka, one of the volunteers in the neighbourhood, immediately notified the area’s first-aid specialist, Anoop. Thanks to speedy dressing of the wound, antibiotics to make sure the infection doesn’t spread and regular follow ups over the next 3-4 days, Matru is now fast on his way to recovery! Priyanka has been taking good care of him, feeding him and regularly applying medicine.
The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations has been able to do this and more in Varanasi thanks to the growing first aid community in the city, with more than 35 volunteers providing first aid to over 60% of the city’s area. Based on FIAPO’s work in Varanasi and many other cities, below are five easy, tried and tested methods that are reliable, effective and quick for running an effective First-Aid program:
1. First Aid Rounds
Go for a first aid round at least once a week, bringing along a basic first aid kit. Look for dogs in gullies and under cars, asking the locals on the way whether they’ve come across any injured dogs. Treat small wounds by cleaning, bandaging, applying medicine, etc. If you need help with these tasks, get in touch with the local NGO to provide you training, or contact us at email@example.com to help you with the process.
2. Act Locally
Get volunteers to proactively take on the responsibility of caring for dogs in their neighbourhood. The best way to do this is by going on the aforementioned first aid rounds, and meeting and allying with the community caretakers. You can also use social media to your advantage by posting calls for volunteerism and starting your own subgroup for people interested in the health and happiness of street animals!
3. Foster a Positive Community
While conducting first aid, try building a rapport with your community helpers, like the local chaiwala, panwala, security guard and others. Remember to carry your business card, or your phone number written (in the local language) on small pieces of paper to distribute to the people around you. This way, the community helpers can help you by informing you about the whereabouts of dogs, and bringing to your notice if any of them needs your attention.
4. Connect with Fellow First Aid Volunteers
Having a well informed and interactive first aid community is imperative to quality first aid. You can start by creating a WhatsApp group to connect with fellow volunteers for emergencies, and to keep enthusiasm high by sharing inspiring success stories. With this group, you can also arrange for regular meet-ups (preferably at least once every six weeks), review the status of the network, add new people and check the health of the animals in the city.
5. Documentation of Treatment for Effective Follow Ups
Effective follow-ups are only possible if there is documentation of ongoing treatment. It is rare that a dog gets treated in one go, and when you are providing treatment for 15 odd dogs, it can be almost impossible to keep track! To make life simpler for you and the ailing animal, it is of utmost importance to know when the dog’s next dose of medicine is due.
If executed effectively, these five tips can help make your city into a safe haven for animals and foster a healthy environment for all our street friends! If you’d like to start a First Aid program in your city, or would like support for an existing one, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Featured image: puppies in Varanasi. Credit Paul Simpson, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0