To her love is a four legged word

CHAT ROOM
Report by: 
LOKNATH PATRA
Port Blair
24 Dec 2017

Dr. Geeta Gladson, a veterinary doctor based in Port Blair has taken  path to care for the man’s best friend with a missionary zeal. For more than a decade, she has been not only feeding stray dogs of the city but providing them medical help and cure. She operates on approximately 100 dogs a month spearheading the Spay and Neuter project helping arrest the uncontrolled growth of stray dog problem. Her exuberance towards her duty and love towards the dogs and even cats abandoned on the streets is clearly evident when she speaks about them like a little child visible on her expressive face and sparkling eyes. Brought up as a child at Nancowrie where her father worked for the Public Health Department and her mother taught kinder garden children, she later joined Model Senior Secondary School at Port Blair and then went on to finish her higher studies in Bachelor in Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry from West Bengal. She is married to Mr. Vinod Krishna who works for BSNL . They have two sons, Gavin who is in 12th standard and Ashwin in the 7th.
(Dr. Geeta welcomed me in at Dog Sterilisation Centre, Dollygunj still in her operating gown and gloves as newly brought in dozen odd puppies scampered around her wagging their tails in appreciation as if they knew they have reached someone who is compassion personified to their kind.)
EOI: Good afternoon Doctor. I am honoured to meet you.
Dr. Geeta: Good Afternoon. My best wishes to all your readers.
EOI: Thank you Doc. Let us start this chat from the beginning; beginning of your journey which made you take up this noble path, that  too such a strenuous one, as you could have easily chosen a cushy job.
Dr. Geeta: True, it is hard work, but the appreciation I receive from my friends here who cannot even speak our language cannot just be expressed in words. (Turning towards the frolicking puppies all around her  table)
EOI: How did it all start professionally?
Dr. Geeta: My first brush with caring for animals was when I headed to my ancestral home at Nagarcoil in Kanyakumari and joined a project by the local Church there to provide animals to people of the Attapadi tribal belt in Northern Kerala for their livelihood from 1994 to 1996. I found that, as the tribal people did not have the wherewithal, they simply let their cattle die after they found them sick. It struck to me that imparting knowledge about taking care of animals during their illness was also paramount. I believed I was myopic in my views till then, actually when things have to be looked in a holistic manner. Istarted imparting knowledge and saw how receptive the tribal folk were. This taught me not to look at things in piece-meal manner, but to approach empirically.
EOI: When did it all start here in the islands?
Dr. Geeta: Tsunami saw great destruction; animals too had to bear the brunt of nature’s fury. Animal health organisations were flocking to the islands. At that time I was involved with the BJJRSP, an animal welfare organisation working on Animal Birth Control (ABC) project. On my request in January 2005, Mrs. Geeta Seshamani, president, Friendicoes SECA (NGO) sent representatives for relief and rescue of animals to our islands. I joined them as it would give me a global perspective in animal care. That was the time when stray dog feeding commenced. (She smiles) Do you know, my father- in- law let me use his car for carrying feed to my destinations? Along with ABC, we also strived to create and encourage empathy in the minds of local residents, encourage adoption and teach children to be kind towards animals through events and film screenings.
EOI: There was a Canine Distemper outbreak in 2007 here. Is not it?
Dr. Geeta: That was heartbreak time. 80 of 90 dogs I was feeding from Corbyn's Cove to Mazhar Pahad died. I blame it on our adhoc mentality. But we arrested the problem by starting a vaccination spree.
EOI: What about this place where we are sitting now, where you conduct
your surgeries?
Dr. Geeta: It belongs to Animal Husbandry Department. PBMC brings the dogs. We perform the surgery and provide post operative care before their release. Male dogs are kept here for four days and females for seven days, the time they require to heal physically and mentally.
EOI: Should all strays be neutered?
Dr. Geeta: Absolutely not? (With conviction in her voice) 70 percent in every area should be neutered and the rest should let be for their benefit and a healthy community.
EOI: What are the future plans for the great work that you have undertaken?
Dr. Geeta: I want the project to encompass the entire Andaman and Nicobar islands. That is my dream!
EOI: How?
Dr Geeta: See, ours is a tripartite agreement between Friendicoes SECA, Animal Husbandry Department and PBMC. Therefore we are not venturing out of municipal limits. We are planning to talk to Panchayats and take it forward to rural areas. But, we have organized camps with Department of Animal Husbandry at Havelock, Hutbay and Neil, and PBMC supported us by providing man power. So I do see the light. With more persistence we could overcome the obstacles.
EOI: Thank you for talking to EOI, we hope you continue this great work.