This handout photograph released by India's Defence Ministry on August 18, 2018 shows an Indian man being winched up to an Indian Air Force helicopter as he is evacuated from a flood affected area in the southern state of Kerala. Dozens of Indian military helicopters stepped up rescue operations in flood stricken Kerala state August 18 with pilots flying high-risk missions to rescue pregnant women and families from rooftops and isolate islands of land./ AFP PHOTO / INDIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY / Handout / -
Agence France-Presse

A woman refused to leave her flooded house in India’s Kerala state without her 25 dogs, a rescuer said Saturday, as the death toll continued to rise.

The dogs were found cowering on beds in the flooded house with water rising when an animal welfare group arrived for a last-gasp rescue, said Sally Varma of Humane Society International.

The woman, who uses only one name Sunitha, was found by rescuers in Thrissur, one of the districts worst hit by floods in Kerala that have left at least 324 dead.

But she refused to leave her house unless her dogs, all strays or abandoned pets, were taken too, Varma told AFP.

“She sent back volunteers and rescue officials because they said they could not evacuate her dogs.

“She was just not willing to leave her dogs behind. She then managed to get in touch with us,” Varma added.

“When the rescue team reached her house, it was completely flooded and the dogs were huddled on beds.”

Sunitha, her husband and the dogs are now staying at a special shelter as the relief camps set up for the disaster refused animals.

Varma said she has started a fundraiser for Sunitha and her pets so a kennel could be built at her home after the floods recede.

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