VIDEO: Remarkable rescue of Indian street puppies stuck in tar for more than eight hours

Humane Society International


KERALA, India – Eight puppies who were found covered in thick tar on the streets of Tirur, India had a lucky escape when the local community rallied for hours in a desperate bid to save them. A barrel of tar had collapsed on the puppies in the early hours of the morning, and when local residents heard their whimpering, the tiny puppies had been struggling to breathe or move in the toxic tar for at least eight hours.

A local animal lover Mr Jaleel led the rescue effort which included residents, ambulance drivers and journalists, subsequently joined by animal rescuers from Humane Society International/India who drove for two hours to reach the scene after receiving a call for help from the local government. HSI/India praised the community effort which is all the more remarkable because historically the region has struggled with human/street dog conflict.

HSI/India continued the rescue effort at its facility in Nilambur where the team battled for hours to clean the puppies with vegetable oil until all eight were safely free of the sticky tar and could be reunited with their mum. Sally Varma of Humane Society International/India works with the local community to promote animal welfare and humane street dog management, and she was part of the HSI animal rescue effort when devastating floods hit Kerala last year.

Sally was delighted at the community’s response to the puppies, and said: “This was such an awesome community effort because there is absolutely no doubt that these puppies would have died had the local people not come to their rescue. These tiny puppies had been trapped in the tar for many hours, and were exhausted as well as overwhelmed by the noxious fumes. They had tar covering their eyes, and in their noses and mouths, so they would surely have perished were it not for these compassionate people. HSI’s animal welfare officers refused to give up, and worked tirelessly to remove the tar. It was thrilling to see these sweet pups come back to life and suckle from their mother after their ordeal.”

Mr Jaleel, the ambulance drivers, journalists and HSI/India were presented with an award by the Tirur Press Club for this remarkable rescue effort. In two weeks the puppies will be old enough for HSI/India to vaccinate and sterilise them, before returning them to Tirur where the locals are anxiously waiting to look after them.

Robert Tigga, one of HSI/India’s animal welfare officers who helped the puppies, said: “To see this community tend to these street puppies with such kindness really makes us happy because Kerala has had a very troubled history with brutal dog culling. We’ve been working in this area for some years now on spay and neuter of street dogs, and promoting animal welfare, so this joint effort to save the puppies really feels like we’re seeing a more humane attitude towards these dogs.”

Download video and photos of the puppy rescue here.

Media contact

United Kingdom: Wendy Higgins whiggins@hsi.org