Those of us who follow Ramana Maharshi’s teachings know full well how he loved all Gods creatures – monkeys, cows, dogs, even snakes. And how they loved him. How he fed the ashram creatures before he ate his own meals. How he cared for them as best as he could.
After his death things slowly turned ugly. With no one to care for the sick and injured, Tiru became like most Indian towns – full of starving, injured, suffering animals, mostly dogs, arguably his favourite.
Today Tiruvannamalai is one of the very, very few municipalities in all of India that has ‘no animal problem”. But it wasn’t that way when we opened our shelter six years ago. For animal lovers it was a scene of unmitigated horror.
My name is Leslie Robinson. The founder of the animal shelter in Tiruvannamalai. We’re the ones that brought about that change. You may not have heard about us because historically we have focused on our work, not public relations.
But now we’re in need of funding to survive. And it is critical.
Sundaram, the President of Ramana Ashram, has written a powerful letter praising us, and encouraging those who are moved in that direction to support us. Our work is at the Heart of Bhagavan’s love and legendary caring for animals.
We have a monthly budget of 400,000 rupees ($8000US). We could have done the same thing three years ago for 200,000 rupees. Inflation has been strong, especially in unskilled wages (wages are half our expenses), and in foodstuffs.
Since the beginning we have raised $450,000 US. But three of our main donors have had to cut back significantly because of the global economic slowdown. We need your help. I have never drawn compensation and have exhausted all my personal resources.
If we go down it will rapidly deteriorate back to the scene of horror. In Bhagavan’s name,
WE NEED YOUR HELP.
A bit more about our beginnings and the transformation that has taken place here.
Like you, I am also on the spiritual path. I met my Guru, Baba Muktananda, in 1975. Spent ten years in his ashrams, managing the one in Ann Arbor for a time. Spent four years in the mountain gonpa of Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche. Now I’m serving our beloved Bhagavan Ramana.
I came to this place in 2006. Intending to stay but two weeks. Just before leaving I heard the Municipality was about to begin killing homeless dogs street by street to cull the population as they had been doing for decades. Horror stories of bounties paid. Clubbing. Strangling. Stories of trucks with piles of bodies, some not yet dead. We managed to stop them - with the caveat that an effective population control program had to be put in place. Ramana would have made this happen, no doubt. But since he was out of body, that left mine to deal with it.
With pure motivation we began. Incredible people were sent to do the work. Magical happenings seemed to arise to bring together every important movement. It was clearly Grace. By name it's the Arunachala Animal Sanctuary & Rescue Shelter. It has a staff of eighteen including two full-time vets. The core of our work is demonstrative love. The core of the shelter are two young men. My senior vet, Dr.Raja, and the Director of Operations, Vishwa. Both age 30. Neither holds anything back. Both are totally committed 24/7. I have written about them in the Founder's Diary on our website
When we opened January 2007 there were well over 4000 homeless dogs. The population was out of control. Suffering was everywhere. 250 to 350 starving, sick, injured, and dying puppies/dogs on the streets. No facility for treatment. No small animal vet within 70 kms. The animals were a menace to themselves and to the residents. And they were subjected to incredible abuse.
This is six years later. There are no more suffering animals on the streets. It is rabies free. The population for the first time historically is decreasing. And has been for three years. 7000 fewer puppies are born each year most of whom would have suffered and died. And most importantly, the relationship between the homeless dogs and the people amongst whom they live has been totally transformed. Without this transformation, no matter what we did they would have been subject to the same injustices, the same cruelties, the same scramble for food and water, and no one to protect them when they were in harms way.
It is not a static situation. We do 20 to 70 rescues every month. We have a busy clinic. A portion of the creatures brought in are homeless dogs. We get 10 to 20 puppies a month. Street puppies. All are in trouble. Either lost their mothers when too young to survive, or sick or injured. If we went down all these creatures we are caring for would immediately come pouring onto the streets, and unbounded suffering would follow. In the first month there would be from 20 to 50 suffering and dying creatures on the streets. Within a year it would be back to 250 to 350. The human/homeless dog relationship would collapse. Rabies would re-manifest. In three to four years the population would again be out of control and the scene would be back to the unmitigated horror scene it was when we started.
We have seven core programs. We have a busy clinic, hospital, 24/7 emergency, sanctuary for animals that can't make it on their own, hospice (we don't euthanize), amazing adoption program, and sterilization/anti-rabies program. We have done 5000 sterilizations since opening. Given over 8000 anti-rabies injections. Had 17000 visits to our clinic. Given over 51000 in-patient treatments. Found good homes for 500 puppies. Rescued over 1100 creatures. And treated over 1600 animals other than dogs: cats, cows, bullocks, monkeys, goats, sheep, squirrels, eagles, snakes, peacocks, birds, an owl, turkeys, chickens, donkeys, horses. We will move for any creature in need.
The very core of our Work is demonstrative love-hugging, stroking, reassuring,
kissing. If you care for animals, and you entered our shelter, it would gladden your Heart.
Please … In Bhagavan’s name dig deep and generously. Recurring donations that can be made on our website
are the most important. As you know money goes much further here. Even smaller amounts have a significant impact.
Arunachala Animal Sanctuary & Rescue Shelter
PS Please, network this letter. Send it to your friends, Facebook, blogs, and however else one networks.
PPS We recently sent out a Newsletter which also has a copy of Ramana Ashram’s letter. If you’d like a copy, drop an email to
. Love, again, L.