Friends of IACC

This is a volunteer community project to fix, maintain and improve the "Integrated Animal Care Center, Auroville" so it can continue to care for stray dogs and other animals.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Return to IACC: An update

Six months after we left Auroville to begin our project in Delhi, we decided to return and visit IACC. When we first came to the shelter in February, the place was a bit of a mess. The grounds were not kept well, the workers were unreliable, the funds from Auroville were missing, and Lorraine was doing almost everything by herself. We spent two long month working on the shelter grounds and investigating the root causes of all the issues, all of which resulted in the turnover of the shelter to new management, Xavier of Reve Guest House.

We have kept in touch with Lorraine, but we couldn't know exactly how things turned out without visiting ourselves. All we can say is, what an improvement! The grounds are more kept up, the workers are doing a reliable job, the puppies are separated by age, the dog's meals are being supplemented with rice cooked in IACC, a new electric water pump has been installed, and there are quite a few volunteers!

Though not everything is perfect and Lorraine still has a lot of work on her plate every day, the shelter seems to be coming out of a depression and moving towards effective work. Lorraine seems to think we have saved her life and given IACC a much needed break ... oh Lorraine! The oldest puppies were recently sterilized, some even in the clinic at IACC!

New volunteers pulling ticks off of puppies

The most incredible transition has been that of Rex, the Rajapulayam hunting dog who had awful skin and was painfully skinny! Look at how beautiful he is now after Xavier gave him some attention, medication, and love!


Here are some other transformations which have happened since we've been gone:



The "teenager" puppy hut constructed in our last weeks at IACC, now has a bed!
We helped with de-worming the littlest puppies.
Remember them? They were babies 6 months ago!

Munchkin, who has turned into a beautiful (and sterilized) young lady!

To stay updated on our next projects, please visit:

and see our blog on animal welfare work at:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Departure from IACC

After 2 months working at IACC we have realized that we can't maintain a balanced and healthy life in Auroville. Unfortunately this means that we cannot complete all the work that we intended to do when we first arrived. Things have improved, but now it is time to see new management step in which will maintain and build upon the processes we have started. Xavier, the Aurovillian who adopted Roxy, has agreed to do the job! After visiting the center for the adoption he realized how much good he could do and decided to step in to relieve Lorraine, who looks forward to taking time off after so many years. We will maintain contact with everyone at the Center to ensure that the transition goes smoothly. We wish them the best!

To stay updated on our next projects, please visit:

and see our blog on animal welfare work at:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Kids from Auroville coming to play with puppies!

We always love when youth are interested in animal welfare!  We occasionally meet local and Aurovillian kids who come to interact with our dogs, and our pups love them. We hope that by being allowed and encouraged to show affection for strays the next generation will lead the way to a more compassionate relationship with our companions!

Feel free to come play with our dogs even if you are a grown up kid ;)

Our First Sterilization!

Thanks to AV Straw's Dr. Kumar, we have seen our first sterilization at the Center in a long time! Hornet the dog was rescued near Auroville Kindergarten and brought to us so we could help him find a home. When he arrived we could see that this kiddo needed a surgery! We called Ingrid S. and Dr. Kumar and arranged for it right away. The surgery went smoothly, Hornet was up and running around in no time, and his incision is healing beautifully. Now he is ready for a home!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lucky and Hornet - introducing new dogs to residents

Lucky, arrived just a few weeks ago. We discovered him on the inside of our locked fence, which made it clear that he had been dropped over from the outside. He was terrified and wouldn’t let us near him, so we gave him food and water and let him stay in our entryway.  Slowly over the next few days we coaxed him into letting us sit near him and even introduced him to Piper, one of our pups about his age. Slowly but surely he began to become more curious about the rest of the dogs and now he is out and exploring! Now, a few weeks later, he comes running up to us with a wagging tail! What a transformation!

Hornet was brought to us with the assistance of Dr. Kumar who uses AV STRAW's blow-dart system for capturing stray dogs. We were called by some folks at Auroville Kindergarten and we were told that he was rabid. It was immediately clear to us when he arrived, however, that he is not sick at all! We kept him in one of our recently built secure areas for new arrivals to observe him for any problems and allow him time to adjust to the smells, sights, and sounds of the Center. After some time we allowed him to begin to explore and meet the resident dogs. Hornet is a really friendly guy and has blended in well with the others.  He might even have found a home straight away! Now he will have his sterilization and be on his way.  Good luck Hornet!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Rescued Dachshund Adopted!

Wow what a quick turn around! Dog lover and Aurovillian Xavier came in to adopt one of the puppies, took one look at Roxy, and decided to take her and a puppy. He and his wife have worked with dogs for years, we are so happy to give this girl a forever home! 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Courageous Dog Rescue

At the very end of the day, just as we were leaving the Center, we recieved a desperate call from Ingrid S. Ingrid has been in the Auroville area for many years, and as a devoted and passionate animal advocate has helped countless animals through rescues and sterilization programs. She called us as she was defending a young dachshund from being stoned to death by a group of extremely drunk men.

The terrified dog had been tossed from a car by her previous family and when she began being beaten by the men took refuge beneath Ingrid's mo-ped. Ingrid, who is not a large woman, bravely stood against this group and told them that they were not to touch the dog. Since we also do not have a secure way to transport dogs, we arrived also by mo-ped to find that Ingrid had managed to disperse the crowd and keep the dog with her. We immediately began working to develop trust with the dog, who was still very anxious.  After about half an hour we were able to pick her up and hold her wrapped in a sheet and a sack on the back of our vehicle.

We were very fortunate that we were trying to transport a very tame dachshund instead of a full-sized feral one! We took her to the Center, where she is staying in one of our newly enclosed areas for incoming dogs and adjusting to the routine. We are putting in all our efforts to find her a good home with a family that will give her the love and attention she needs! If you are interested in adopting her or any of our dogs, please contact us for more information.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Another Adoption!

Hooray! Another puppy found a home! Thanks to Annelouise, a recent transfer to the Auroville area, one of our littlest puppies will have all the love and care she could want.  The others still need homes though! If you are interested in sponsoring or adopting one of our puppies or dogs, please visit us here or come to IACC to meet them!

Parvo Outbreak

We have sad news from the Center. Recently a puppy was dropped off and we were told that her person "couldn't take care of her anymore." Most dogs when brought into the center don't look well, and so her shaking and low energy seemed normal for a new pup. Because we don't have an effective way of separating out new dogs, we put her into Lorraine's house with another new puppy found the same day. Lorraine's door opens out directly onto the porch where the majority of our young puppies choose to hang out. After a day we began to notice the new puppy salivating heavily and gagging, never a good sign, and she wouldn't eat. The next morning, we awakened to find her dead. After looking at her vomit and stool we could reliably say that the little girl had canine parvovirus, a highly infectious disease which affects puppies and has a very low survival rate. We immediately began to clean every surface she touched, but unfortunately we were not fast enough. Another of our puppies, Frida, already began to show signs of being sick. We separated her in the night, and late the next morning she passed away. Fortunately her decent into sickness was quick and she passed with little pain.

This incident only highlights the need to keep new dogs separated until we determine they are healthy, the need to isolate sick puppies before anything spreads, and the need for puppies to have their own space where their vulnerable immune systems are not as barraged by infections from the adult dogs (who may or may not show symptoms). Luckily we are working to do just that by adding gates and huts on the Center grounds where puppies can play without fear of sickness or injury!  

More puppies?

Goodness gracious how can it be?  More puppies have arrived at the center!  These three were dropped off by a local villager while another one was brought in by guests of Auroville.  These little cuties are probably three weeks old and would love nothing more than to be fostered or adopted!  Can you be their guardian angel?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

New youth volunteer and Adoption

We have recently welcomed our youngest volunteer yet, Parthi, who lives across the village!  Parthi came to us with his friends to play with the puppies, but he offered to carry water for the dogs, help us feed them, and other chores at the center.

His family also decided to adopt one of our puppies and have given him a forever home!  He continues to join us weekly at the center to help with chores and play with the dogs.  Thanks Parthi!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

First-aid Clinic: Before and After

When we arrived at the center, one of the first things we noticed was the horrible state of the clinic.  Once used for sterilizations, the room had fallen into complete disarray.  It was impossible to find anything, cockroaches lived in every corner. Expired medication and good medication was all over the place. Used medical supplies (gauze and cotton with ointment from whenever it was used last!) was mixed with unused supplies. Surgical tools and supplies were all mixed together. We didn't even want to touch anything!

Major props to +Joellen, who took it upon herself to make it a usable space, and spent a week scouring every corner, every dish, every box, and every piece of furniture to make it functional.  Now the cabinet is organized, the table surfaces are usable, the spiderwebs are gone and so is the wasp nest, the dog register is updated, and the refrigerator is cleaned. We still have a problem with the ants and cockroaches, but we are searching for a solution to keep dog food completely sealed so the bugs can't find it.  Even a local vet said once the ceiling is covered (right now it is open and dust can fall in) he could do surgeries there! Success!

Clinic Before Cleaning:

Clinic After Cleaning:

Neem Oil

Since arriving at IACC we have been researching all sorts of natural remedies for skin issues.  Skin disease is the number one problem we are having with the dogs, and we hear all kinds of suggestions about what to lather on to these suffering pooches!  The remedy which seems to be the most popular, however, is neem oil.  The Neem tree is very common here and yet in order to get reasonably priced oil we have to go all the way to Pondicherry, too far to go by bicycle!  Luckily volunteer Gopika from Chile has a motorbike and offered to go with fellow activist Ingrid to pick it up!  Now we have about 6 liters of it!  We have started using it on the dogs, check in for updates on how it is working!

4 new puppies. Our youngest so far!

A couple days ago someone found 4 puppies abandoned in water and saved them and brought them to IACC. Drowning puppies is a common horrific animal birth control practice in India. These puppies are just a couple weeks old and need constant care.

As per the article here  there is a widespread misconception that if puppies don't get mother's milk for complete period, then they won't build a good immune system. In reality, they get all the antibodies in first 24 hours of nursing. Also, if the mother has not faced and fought off a particular disease or is not vaccinated.

We are feeding them Cerelac every 4 hours for now. We were told by Red paws rescue that a better option is Royal canin babydog milk but we make do for now.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Water & energy conserving dish washing and food sorting station

Using the wood that was lying around, a scrap refrigerator door, jute rope, an old dish rack and 3 new plastic buckets, we were able to overhaul the dish washing and food sorting process.

Now dish washing happens under a shaded structure close to the hand pump. We fill three buckets 1/3rd with water. Leftover food goes in the food waste bucket, dishes are soaked in first bucket, scrubbed with ash and coconut husk, rinsed in second bucket and then dunked in third bucket that contains water and vinegar which acts as an anti-bacterial agent, and left to dry in sun and UV in strong Indian sun finishes the job than vinegar started!

Not only we conserve water in this method, we get it using "manual" energy. Something which is always available as long as volunteers are there :) All that is left is a water loving green patch right outside the hut so the water can be cleaned by plant roots before it seeps. We have already done earth shaping and laid some gravel.

At the time of food sorting, the dish washing buckets go down and we get a nice "dog free" zone for food buckets. Since this is an enclosed area we can hang some shiny things to deter crows. Also, this has freed up the entry way to IACC which was earlier used for this and now we can get it all cleaned up and it's sure nice to have a gate which is not covered in crow droppings all the time.

We are also thinking of blending the food after sorting for puppies. Does any one have a hand blender they can spare?

Dish washing process prior to this change.
Earlier someone would have to hunch over a wheelbarrow and buckets under the sun and muck around in soapy water (dogs used to get into that as well!) and use up water from the tank.

Food sorting process prior to this change.
Food sorting used to happen between the double doors at the entry way of IACC, which is un-shaded and attracted a lot of crows which led to a perpetually crow dropping covered gate. Also, the stinky food mess did not really make a good first impression.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


This guy has been through it...and it shows! Sumo was found by Lorraine on the side of the road, unmoving and taken for dead, until he lifted his eyes to look at her!  Since then he has lost a kilo and has been more responsive with the other dogs (but he's still a grump with the puppies).  Though he has come a long way, he still has far to go!  We gave him a bath and brushed him thoroughly, you wouldn't believe the grime which had built up all over his skin!  Now his fur is clean and soft, what a difference!  We also have given him a rigorous rub down with neem oil in hopes that his fur will start to grow back fully.  Maybe then people won't mistake him for a pig?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Another volunteer for a week

Alex from France saw our flier at visitor center and decided to pay us a visit. IACC is not the easiest place to find and luckily a guy from the Edayanchavadi village (where IACC is located) accompanied her and showed her the place!

It's time for us to find some used bike parts from the Bike co-op and make some Bicas inspired signs to point to IACC.

Anyway, I digress. Alex will be here tomorrow onward and has even promised to bring her friend. w00t!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Compost pits and first short term resident volunteer

Yesterday Fabio from Germany showed up based on a tip from a friend he'd just met here.  He is our first short-term resident volunteer. Not only will he be helping us with the daily routine, but also with improving the facility. He also brought a couple friends who have babies and it was good to see our puppies interact with the babies :)

So far all fruit and vegetable discards were going around trees which was a messy situation and cooked food discards were being dumped in an unused field. Now that we have fenced compost pits in making (we don't want our puppies getting in there and getting stuck!), we can turn a messy situation into compost for our planned herb garden.

With these pits we have just scratched the surface of how waste is handled at IACC. There is still the matter or handling paper and plastic waste, handling dog poop and minimizing the strain on the septic tank. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Medical Care

Today I met the founder of IACC for the first time. She expressed that she wouldn't mind us doing a project helping IACC and building upon the efforts already done. She will indeed reimburse us for any veterinarian bills, medical supplies, bills and sterilizations. This is great news!

Once we are setup for donations, we will focus on fundraising for -

1. Getting an ambulance for IACC to transport dogs.
2. Fixing up existing huts and building more huts for dogs.
3. Hiring Dr. Kumar for sterilization camps as he is the only veterinarian in the area with years of experience sterilizing stray dogs in neighboring villages.

Soap in food. Yuck.

Good thing we sort the food or else we'd have had some soap bubble blowing puppies on our hands!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What needs to be solved at IACC

Right now, IACC is acting as a safe space for strays protecting them from cruel treatment they might receive on the streets and ensuring that they get fed twice a day, but that's about it. These are the key small and big issues that need we have identified and will begin solving for the smooth function of current activities of IACC.

  1. There should be a way to separate the adult dogs in few different groups, keep the puppies separate, and the ability to isolate a dog who is a new arrival or has an infection that can spread to others. We have no way yet to isolate the dogs which is bad as they keep infecting each other, puppies get bullied by older dogs and at feeding they start fighting.
  2. There is a massive flea and tick infestation.
  3. There is no veterinarian on site and there is no medical care available for dogs unless Lorraine can schedule a house call with a local veterinarian which does not always happen.
  4. The evening feeding is done by the food delivery person, which means there is no food sorting and dogs don't get separated, which means some dogs might be not getting fed and there is a good chance of someone choking on a food item which should not have been present in the food.
  5. Dogs don't get any individual attention and the affection they need.
  6. Dish-washing happens in an un-shaded area, the procedure is clumsy un-necessarily difficult. Also, dogs always get into the soapy water which is not good for them.
  7. Food-sorting happens in an un-shaded area in the entryway and attracts a lot of scavengers.
  8. We think some of the dogs might have food related allergies but there is no way to confirm it.
  9. The clinic is sort of a dumping room.
  10. There is no adoption process and thus no outflow of dogs.
  11. There is no procedure to handle dog poop, food waste or garbage. Things are being burnt and dumped.
  12. There are no set schedules, procedures, documentation, lists, methods thus making it trickier for new people to get involved.
  13. There is no place outdoors apart from the double doors at the entry way where you can be without being swarmed by all the dogs, which can be a little too much at times.
  14. There is no means of transport for dogs available apart from booking a cab.
  15. There is no funding available.
  16. The property being ill-maintained in general. Wild grass is not being cut. There are wood piles which are unsightly and promote vermin. There are broken down and shabby structures. Even the current structures are  made without much thought and are in the way. Thatch roofs are great if maintained, but the way situation is, it is just promoting insect growth and definitely does not make sense in the clinic.
  17. There are no ready quarters for volunteers to settle and no communal space.
  18. There is no dedicated staff apart from Lorraine.
We have our work cut out for us!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The daily scoop - sort, feed, wash and pick up poop

Lorraine is so consumed by managing the daily process alone that she has no time to improve the processes or place or the clinic or to find good help. Every now and then a volunteer or two show up and she gets a breather. Sadly the Auroville Guest Services website form which volunteers fill up, never make it to her :(

So the process till date - The day begins with cleaning up the yard, aka poop pickup. Then the hand pump is used to fill up water buckets which are then used to water bowls spread across the yard.

Murthy, a part time worker being paid by Auroville fund brings left over food scraps and kitchen waste from the eatery at Auroville visitor center. This food needs to be sorted manually as it has many many things like onions, cooked chicken bones, raw dough, stale cheese, drumsticks, which are bad for dogs and big pieces of vegetables which need to be mashed as otherwise puppies can choke on them. Sometimes the food comes with a little kibble or chicken soup (We'd rather have these dogs stay vegan!) which is mixed in. Then a little spirulina is added and the dogs are fed with an attempt to spread them out so they don't fight each other.

After that the dishes are collected, washed and spread out in the sun for evening feeding. Some days Alessandra removes ticks from the dogs. In the evening the process is repeated, except the food is not sorted as there is no one present to sort it sadly :(

The whole process needs to be more organized and efficient. Then even a volunteer who is present for a day can participate. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Arrived and started!

It was last August when I'd first seen "Integrated Animal Care Center". I was in the eatery at Auroville's visitor center when I saw a handmade flier by previous volunteers Phill and Susie. I called the phone number listed and after a twisty paved road, an even twistier dirt road and following the sound of dogs barking I'd finally made it there and I knew it then that this place needs me and I need this place.

I had to turn back and go home to Arizona but I made a promise to myself and Lorraine, the person managing the place single handedly, that I will be back in February.

As luck had it, I met another dog lover in my short stay in Tucson who had years of experience working with dogs in humane society, in a vet's office and also walking and training dogs! I told her about my plans and she decided to join me in this adventure.

Finally, we reached here yesterday evening and set up camp (literally) in a thatch hut. Today we registered with financial services, got our Aurocards and have gotten our daily contribution (Rs. 150 per day, which every guest in Auroville has to pay) waived, rented bicycles, bought food in Kulapalayam (a neighboring village which serves to most common needs of residents and travelers in Auroville).

Tomorrow, we start work!

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