Thiruvananthapuram: There are over half a dozen stray dogs at Edapazhanji fish market under the care of headload workers. When they fall ill, their guardians take them to the local vet at Kunnapuzha on the suburbs of Tirumala.
The moment T.G. Ramesh enters the market to unload fish at 4.30 am every day, Kochu, Manikantan, Mondy (because it limps), Karuppoyi (black in colour), Sathi, Chembi (brown coloured), Valu-murichy (tail cut), Vell-achi (white in colour) and the rest swarm him.
They are names of few of the dogs abandoned there over the years. Workers hate their dogs being termed as 'stray' as they claim that they are their guardians.
Mr Ramesh is their chief guardian. He and eight colleagues ensure that they are being cared for and taken care of every day, be it rain or shine.
"I get few fresh fish and leftovers from the Edapazhanji market and have it cooked with rice to feed the nine dogs. I get work just for two hours a day and earn Rs 400 - Rs 450. With whatever I earn, I ensure that the nine are fed every day without fail," said the 47-year-old.
Earlier there were 14 dogs, but canine distemper and tick fever hit them. It was a chance encounter when a visitor to the market suggested Dr L. J. Lowrance, a senior veterinary surgeon with the Kerala police that he will take care of the dogs when they are unwell.
Since then, Mr Ramesh and his colleagues keep taking them to Dr Lowrance where they are treated free of charge for all types of illnesses.
The local auto-rickshaw drivers also charge only half price when they take the injured dog to the vet.
"I have not seen such dedicated dog lovers like them. They are excellent human beings with a heart of gold as they are caring for the dogs there like any other pet which have got a proper shelter above their head," Dr Lowrance says.