It was past noon when A Deepa’s domestic help came to her with urgent news: there was a snake near the flower pots, next to their ground floor apartment in Velachery. “This was unusual, we were seeing one in our house after seven years. And we have two children at home, that’s why we were scared,” she recalls.
Deepa immediately contacted Blue Cross, who rescued the snake, working with the Forest Department — all in a matter of 10 minutes. Thanks to the NGO’s new Click to Rescue initiative. Under this, people who spot animals in need of immediate care, can click on a link available on their website, Facebook and Twitter pages, that directs them to a WhatsApp chat box with Blue Cross, wherein they can send their name, contact number, photo of the animal and its current location.
“All these years, we were taking calls only on the landline,” says P Mohanakannan, Joint Secretary, Blue Cross of India. “But as we started expanding our operations from Chennai to Greater Chennai, the calls became 150 to 175 calls on an average every day.”
Each call would last nearly 15 minutes, and given that they had only three operators, many people would be unable to reach them, or have to hold for a long period. “More importantly, we were not being able to rescue every animal,” he says. They tried having people fill an online rescue form instead, but found that not everyone is tech-savvy enough to use it.
Given its easy accessibility and usage, they decided WhatsApp would be the best means of rescue. “It’s been a week since we made the WhatsApp link functional, and we have been getting 50 to 60 rescue requests each day.” Pictures of distraught animals: dogs, cats, cows, deer, snakes, eagles and more. For the latter wild ones, they work with the Forest Department to rescue them. Each person gets an RR (rescue request) number, prioritised based on the level of trauma the animal is in.
The best feature of the Click to Rescue programme, he says, is how efficient the communication has become. “We no longer need to spend time trying to figure out the exact location of the animal. We don’t have to rely on sign boards and landmarks. Our drivers know exactly which spot to go to, and because we have the picture of the animal, identification has also become easier.”
If you spot an animal in need of rescue, text Blue Cross on WhatsApp at 9962998886.