For some stupid reason I always think that the next week cannot be as bad as this but it always is. To give some idea of how busy it can be I will at the end of this past a list of just some of the things we have dealt with this week.
As I sit down at the computer the time is 10.13 pm. My day started at 3.45 am. I virtually have not had a moment off during the day and this is typical of all too many days in my life. However this has special poignancy as will be pointed out during this diatribe. By the end of this I will have undoubtedly upset quite a few people but I have good reason not to care. There will also be many people who think I am arrogant and big headed as a result of what I intend writing but basically I am sick of the constant whimpering, snipping and non-stop condemnation from those who do nothing to help animals and are not even prepared to contribute 1 rupee towards their welfare.
How many people do you know that have been placed under special police protection because of threats on their lives due to them exposing animal cruelty? How many people do you know who have been constantly in and out of hospitals as a result of beatings they have suffered protecting animals? How many people do you know who never get a day off? Well all these apply to me. I came back to India on the 15th September 2014 and apart from two days when I was simply too ill to work I have not had a day off since I arrived back in this country. Even on days I am meant to be resting or taking it easy I have worked such as today!
Everyone tells me I should learn to take it easy and rest whilst at the same time I am bombarded with phone calls complaining that I am not doing enough! It seems that because I am the Founder of International Animal Rescue I am personally held responsible for every sick, injured and homeless animal in Goa if not in the whole of India. What sickens me is that most of the people that complain never themselves lift a finger to help. The times I get people on the phone complaining that they have called for our ambulance for a sick or injured animal but were told our ambulances were out dealing with other urgent cases and as a result they shout abuse at me for not having an ambulance available. However, would they ever think of putting the poor creature in a taxi and bringing it to our centre for treatment, of course not! To deal with all the phone calls we get I would need at least 20 ambulances and a staff of almost 100 to cope with demand. Nothing would please me more than to have them and indeed we could! All it needs is for everyone who complains to donate just Rs100 a month and we could solve the problem but getting Rs100 out of these people is more difficult than getting blood out of a stone.
Another thing I get pilloried for is because we have cages in Mapusa Market so people that would otherwise dump their animals in the market or elsewhere can put them in the cages. It is a fact that on average 300 animals a month get dumped in Mapusa Market, many of them are puppies and kittens that have barely got their eyes open and would be left to die a slow horrendous death. There are a handful of cranks that believe that it is better to leave these animals to die slowly in the market than to take them to our centre and have them humanely put to sleep. If you are one of these I simply do not know how you can sleep at night. I certainly have many sleepless nights worrying about the poor creatures dumped all over Goa. What these people do not take in to account is the mental suffering which I consider to be far worse than the physical suffering. Imagine the fear of a puppy or kitten taken away from its mother and dumped in this bustling terrifying place with no food, water or shelter. What happens to the ones not put in the cages is that they crawl down any hole they can find to hide from the sheer terror of it all. They are so terrified that they either stay there until they die of dehydration or are eaten alive by rats. Over the years my wife and I have found all too many dead animals hidden down holes or under tin sheeting or piles of rubbish.
My wife and I not only work night and day 7 days a week helping all these poor creatures, never ever getting a day off, but we are also at present paying for virtually all the work IAR Goa does. To cover this expenditure I have even had to sell my pension.
Now let me tell you of a far from unusual day such as today! For a start I am meant to be taking things easy because I have just been told by two surgeons that they are 99% certain I have cancer and as such need plenty of rest. Some chance! Because we have just taken in a new baby Langur monkey that is only a few days old, Nissa, the baby monkey that Jo previously had sleeping in her bedroom, had to come down to my bedroom and stay with Alfie the male baby monkey that was badly savaged by dogs. They have had play time together already and are now both about 6 months old. I was woken by Nissa at 3.45 this morning by her jumping off the high windowsill onto me and running off to do it again. She is so full of life that she continued this game, so at 5 am I got up and made a cup of coffee. By this time I was so wide awake that I stood no chance of going back to sleep, and besides Nissa was still in full bounce. Alfie is far more refined and nothing like such a hooligan! In the end I got up to attend to paperwork. Just after 6 am Jo asked me to look after the baby that had kept her awake all night crying for its mother so she could take a shower and get dressed.
Jo has to go to the market every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to collect vegetables for the monkeys so she leaves just after 8 am, so I was left holding the baby so as to speak. At around 9 am someone came up to relieve me of babysitting duties so I was able to deal with the mass of e mails that come in everyday. During this period I had no less than 3 phone calls complaining that IAR Goa was not doing enough and implying that I could not give a damn. Strangely enough I cannot remember any of these concerned people doing voluntary work at the centre! I have to say these calls which I get almost every day really do get me down. I waste hours every week listening to these people going on and on and I would love to tell them where to go but no doubt if I did it would be all over the local papers. I can just see the headlines "John Hicks the man who cares nothing for animals!"
I then had to go back and feed the little baby before I had to dash out to the centre to sort out a number of important things. When I got back at 5 pm I have to say I had the highlight of my day in that I got my Nora out. Nora is a Bonnet Macaque monkey who totally worships me and she loves to come and have a cuddle. At least I know there is one creature in the world that does not think I am totally useless, unlike all the people constantly calling me to tell me I am.
I put Nora away at about 5.45 pm, sorted out food for Nissa and Alfie, and got myself afternoon tea. After this I went round to check on all the monkeys before it got dark and to check they all had plenty of food. I then had to go and help Jo with the baby. Finally at 7.45 pm I collapsed in my bedroom to watch some TV. I had no sooner collapsed than I had a call from Goa Forestry Department to say they had a badly injured monkey and were at my gate to hand it to me. The poor creature had been badly savaged by dogs but in a previous accident it had lost the lower section of one arm. The poor creature was in a very bad way so I administered a pain killer and have left it in a quiet room in the dark. It is badly in shock and I have serious doubts it will recover. The wounds themselves are bad but probably not life threatening, but Langur monkeys suffer terribly from shock which so often kills them.
After seeing to the injured monkey I had a sick puppy brought in, and by the time I had finished it was time for me to assist Jo with the baby so she could get something to eat and have a shower before getting into bed for another sleepless night. I then came in to write this! It is now 11.35 pm and finally I am going to bed having followed my doctors instructions about taking plenty of rest and relaxing! You know I really should start thinking about doing something for animal welfare!
All the best
...speechless... except for : thank you, you are amazing.
We come to Goa every Christmas well I for one think you do a good job if I see a dog that looks like he has not have food I will feed him for the 4 Weeks we are there but when it's time to go home I get very sad and just hope that he will get fed and water I would gladly give some money next time we are out and help out some people just don't care
You do great work john, dont let them grind you down. Your all fantastic at what you do. We support you and always will. Your amazing.
I was very moved by your blog and have every sympathy with your unenviable position. My personal experience of IAR has generally been very positive and I understand the constraints of limited time, vehicles, volunteers etc. it is important that you take care of your own health and wellbeing and I hope you are able to do so. I will be back in Goa next week and will contact you personally, until then I wish you well.
After so many years,I thought I knew so much about you John but,I under estimated the exceptional depth of dedication. Reading this all too late,make me feel I too should have done more much much earlier. Indeed,you and Jo are amazing. I say are, because you have left a legacy for others to follow.....and in that you live on.