Thiruvananthapuram: British couple Steve and Mary Muscroft, who came on a two-week holiday to Kovalam on March 17, 2008, recently completed their tenth year here, all because of two street dogs.
They could not leave as they could not get anyone to adopt Chitty and Legs. “These two dogs had character. We could not walk away from them. The decision to stay was forced upon us, with no one to look after the dogs,” says Steve.
It was only in 2013 that they founded the NGO ‘Street Dog Watch,’ but even before it was formally started, they had begun rescuing, vaccinating and sterilizing dogs. Steve bought a motorcycle only to feed dogs. Today, their home at Mukkola has 100 dogs, and according to Steve, all but one speak English.
“One dog can understand only Malayalam instructions. That one was 10 years’ old at the time of rescue,” he says.
They have seen through 1,531 sterilisations, 322 adoptions and 2,483 vaccinations. All this, employing a team of five, and some good Samaritan volunteers, including a doctor.
Mary notices a shift in people’s attitude towards sterilization. “Many who adopt street dogs want their dogs to be sterilised. This change may not be highly perceptible, but it is certainly there,” she says. The animal-loving tourists of Kovalam might have been catalysts for this change.
The two have changed too. Steve says, at first he was an angry man as he firmly believed that local residents did not care for animals. “With time I realised that a majority cares, at least at Kovalam. They may not take them home, but you would notice so many dogs in the street resting beside people,” he says.
They may not have stayed in Kerala if it were not for the dogs. “The dogs took our life in a different direction,” says Mary....