Dodo and Chiku are two brave young Indian female dogs adopted as community dogs by Shivani, Priya and their young group of friends in Masjid Moth area of New Delhi! For it was their barking that alerted Shivani and Priya’s family on the midnight of 30th November-1st December 2015 to the presence of a “Bike Thief” on the prowl in their colony. They started barking as the thief tried to use a Master key to steel Priya’s Scooty. As his efforts failed, he tried his hand on another bike parked nearby. Alerted by Dodo and Chiku’s barking, Shivani’s brother confronted the thief and the Police was called over, only to learn that he had just stolen two more bikes that were parked outside the colony gate as he chased his 3rd ‘target vehicle’. Strange as it is, the Police reprimanded this ‘regular’ bike thief and let him go is what we learn. The residents were happy that they got their vehicles back, but no one patted the backs of these two girls, Dodo and Chiku, the unsung heroes whose alert barking alerted their caretakers into taking action against the ‘thief’.
This is how street dogs guard the streets they inhabit. They don’t bark without a reason. Be compassionate towards them, they are on our streets for a reason.
Dodo, Chiku and their Mom, Gauri have all been sterilized and it was our turn at JAAGRUTI to vaccinate them all on 1 December 2015. Along with the three girls, Jetto, the black male dog was also vaccinated. We adore caretakers like Shivani, Priya and their gang of friends who were so respectful of us and grateful of the learnings they have had by reading through the JAAGRUTI blog and they were appreciative of our On-Site First Aid and Vaccination Service for Street Animals/Dogs as well.
The heroic acts of Indian Street Dogs to save their human friends in need are a daily occurrence, some get reported, most don’t!
Earlier this year in August 2015, it was ‘Pingu’, a mute Street Dog residing in Vasant Kunj area of Delhi had prevented burglary and risked his own life in the process.
You can read more about Pingu’s heroics on these links:
Contributions towards our medicine and transport costs are essential to support to keep up our efforts to sweat it out and treat animals on the street day in day out. Do consider supporting us by clicking on www.jaagruti.org/contribute-to-jaagruti. If you would like to contribute medicines in kind, please connect with us on email@example.com and we will get back to you with our requirements.
We at JAAGRUTI had shared in our earlier posts, how police stations across Naxal infested regions of India have befriended street dogs in their near vicinity to help alert them to naxal attacks and impending danger, and now, we would like to share how these stray dogs are helping Indian army soldiers posted along the LoC (Line of Control) on the country’s high security border posts, foil infiltration bids and giving our soldiers much needed companionship in a hard terrain doing a hard job of protecting us all and our nation. This story was published on the Front page of The Hindustan Times dated 11th October 2015 and reading it made our day and gave vindication to what we have been saying all along, that these sturdy Indian stray dogs if looked after well, treated with compassion, sterilized and vaccinated by local community caretakers, can not only act as wonderful guard dogs but also help spread the spirit of compassion around in this increasing self and selfie-obsessed world; for love is all we and they need actually!
All photos and text are courtesy Journalist Rahul Singh of The Hindustan Times.
We thank HT and Rahul for reporting this heart-warming story, so beautifully.
They are neither pedigreed dogs nor schooled in specialised tasks, but are finding themselves increasingly in demand along the troubled Line of Control where Indian soldiers have embraced the ubiquitous mutt.
It isn’t a patch on well-trained army dogs used extensively in Jammu and Kashmir for sniffing out explosives, tracking and patrolling — and even bestowed with gallantry awards for their exploits, yet the mutt has arrived.
Commanders at the LoC are being encouraged to ‘adopt’ strays at their posts as the canines have proved to be tremendously effective in providing early warning about the movement of Pakistani infiltrators, says Lieutenant General RR Nimbhorkar, commander of the Nagrota-based 16 corps. It is responsible for guarding a 224-km stretch of the LoC south of the Pir Panjal range.
“They are the best sensors and have helped foil infiltration bids,” he says. Forget the hierarchies in the canine kingdom, the presence of mutts at forward posts provides a break from monotony and dulls the effects of isolation on soldiers to a degree.
A brilliant innovation helped Indian soldiers neutralise the threat of Pakistani army dogs along the LoC some time ago. A senior officer reveals how leopard urine sourced from a zoo was sprinkled along vulnerable points to keep the hostile canines at bay.
At a forward infantry mortar position after nightfall, a two-man HT team is greeted by a pack of sturdy mutts — with dominant features of the Bakharwal breed — growling and baring their teeth, signalling us to stay away.
“They recognise our scents and consider you to be intruders. That’s how they alert us,” says a sentry, standing guard against the backdrop of the LoC fence illuminated by bright LED lights. The lights cast a glow that can be seen from the distant Krishna Ghati heights across Mendhar town, once a hotbed of terrorist activity.
The canines have come to be known as ‘langar dogs’ as they are fed by the army kitchen.
High-decibel noise during festivals like Diwali can be very traumatic for animals. Children think its fun to throw crackers at them and watch the poor animals suffer. Parents should prevent kids from doing this.
Here are 10 tips that pet owners, animal lovers and concerned citizens can practise, to lessen the trauma for pets and street animals. (Read points 1 to 3, if not all ten to help make a difference to the planet and street animals this Diwali). We don’t burn crackers and never will, to know why, please click and read here..
1. Pledge: An end to bursting firecrackers. What sounds loud to the human ear becomes four times louder to a dog and even more to a cat, so, you can imagine how loud the sound of a Diwali firecracker is to them. Even birds abandon their nests due to fear.
2. Tag: Pet owners and street dog carers should collar and tag the dogs with their names and contact details. If they get lost, it would be easier for the finder to trace their owner/caretaker.
3. Temporary refuge and tags for street dogs:
Street animals bear a huge brunt, as they are more susceptible to burn injuries due to the bombs and rockets. If it is difficult for street animal carers to give refuge to the street dogs that are petrified during Diwali, it would be good to have a temporary tag with your telephone number put on it. Street dogs cover long distances out of their territory and run helter-skelter or go into hiding. People, who notice a new dog in their area, can then call the street animal-carer because of the tag.
4. Don’t Walk: Pet owners who know that their pet is petrified of crackers should even go to the extent of not walking them outside the house during this period.
5. Give them company: Don’t leave them alone at home during Diwali. Having someone around, who they know, will lessen if not eliminate the
6. Distract: Animal behaviourists advise that pet owners should distract their pets by playing with them. Loud music that is soothing might help drown out the firecracker noise.
7. Keep Away: Don’t take or allow your pets to wander near the site where firecrackers are being burst or even near used fireworks/remnants as they retain dangerous chemicals and may be poisonous if ingested by the pets.
8. Medicate: There are Homeopathic and Bach flower remedies available to reduce the trauma faced by animals during Diwali. You can ask your homeopath/veterinarian for details about the remedy/dosage. Don’t self-medicate.
9. Report: Any firecracker-inflicted cruelty to animals or any lost pets wearing tags to the SPCA/animal NGOs in your city.
10. Keep: Emergency telephone numbers of your veterinarian and animal welfare organisations handy.
(Thank you: This post is courtesy Mid Day and the images used have been shared by PAWS Thane.)
All text below by Mr. Merrit Clifton from ANIMAL PEOPLE:
This Dog Care Field Manual, by Harrell Graham, covers wound treatment; treatment of both internal parasites such as worms and external parasites such as mange; emergency response to poisoning; and avoidance of rabies. Each topic is reviewed in depth and detail, recommending crisis care that almost anyone can give when the nearest veterinarian is many miles and hours away.
Graham, who recently returned to the U.S. after five years in rural Thailand, compiled The Dog Care Field Manual from his own rescue experience, in consultation with sympathetic veterinarians from around the world. Asks Graham, “Have you ever seen a sick or mangy dog and found yourself saying, ‘I wish there was something I could do to help that poor creature?’ Are you an expatriate living in a second or third world country where these sick and wounded animals are everywhere?
“This manual will show you how you can spend some time outside helping man’s best friend and at the same time get to know your community, meet people, and make your life more interesting and meaningful. It doesn’t require a lot: a handful of readily available medicines, plus some dry dog food.
“The satisfaction that comes from watching a mite-infected, sick and possibly hairless dog gain his strength and beauty back over a period of just a few weeks is hard to beat.”
Much of Graham’s advice will help rescuers anywhere. Even where veterinarians are plentiful and accessible during business hours, there is not always a clinic open all night when one finds a dog in distress, and even if such a clinic exists, emergency treatment may be necessary before the dog is moved.
“I read it and found it to be very useful,” C.P. Ramaswamy Institute president Nanditha Krishna e-mailed from Chennai, India, less than 24 hours after ANIMAL PEOPLE posted The Dog Care Field Manual for downloading from our web site. “Since I run a mini shelter with 15 dogs at home, I constantly need help. I have downloaded the manual to my desktop.”
The Dog Care Field Manual is not meant to substitute for veterinary care, even in remote regions of the developing world.
“I am a big believer in working with a local vet,” Graham told ANIMAL PEOPLE. In particular, an experienced local vet “can better diagnose certain cases,” Graham explained, where the dog suffers from a condition known in the community, but not common elsewhere. However, Graham found that the nearest capable veterinary diagnostician was often far distant. In Thailand, Graham recalls, “My vet asked me to bring him pictures––rather than haul all the dogs from the temples 30 miles away––and he could tell me what to do if I didn’t already know. There were only a handful of times I had to do this because, usually, Ivermectin and some worm pills, plus maybe some antibiotics, are all that most dogs need.
“On those occasions where the dog had problems I couldn’t deal with,” Graham added, “I took the dog to the vet.” Examples included “a broken leg with bloody sharp bones protruding; liver disease with great ascites (belly distention); and red cauliflower-like transmissible venereal tumors growing on the genitals, where the dog needed intervenous chemotherapy. I did administer intervenous vincristine at night once, on the side of the road, with a head lamp, and no one to assist me, but a vet can do it much more easily and quickly.”
Graham acknowledges that some of his advice may be controversial. “Regarding my suggestion of ‘throwing’ multiple drugs such as antibiotics, antifungals, and antiparasitics at an animal who has no hair and is sick,” Graham recalls grilling experts by e-mail, reminding them that “stray dogs will not have access to multiple tests in a vet’s office.” Most conceded that “Under those circumstances the ‘shotgun approach’ was okay.”
But Graham prefers to take a more cautious approach. For example, “I prefer to not give antifungals,” Graham says, “until I’ve first dewormed the dog, and have given the dog Ivermectin for mites, and antibiotics.”
Adds Graham, “I’ve treated more dogs with more severe skin infections than most western vets will see in a lifetime of treating ‘yuppy’ dogs. I know the approach I outline in the Dog Care Field Manual works because it has been ‘battle tested.’ That doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.”
Graham is continuing to research possible additions and amendments.
*Views expressed herein are solely the personal views of the author – Faizan Jaleel, who can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
**For those interested in the subject, there is also a website based book titled, “Animals in Islam” by Al-Hafiz B.A. Mazri , which can be accessed by clicking here.
Being a Muslim has been linked to meat eating and in fact rightly so because many or most of the Muslims (followers of Islam) are non vegetarians. Being a Muslim myself and a non vegetarian till around 2009, I could simply understand that meat was a part of our cuisine and never in the entire time of my being a Non Vegetarian came from any religious guidance at that time. Meat was cooked and we ate it. It was not told to us in any religious sermon that you should eat meat to be a Muslim and yes neither it was the other way round like it was also not told to us not to eat meat as well. We didn’t know about the slaughter and cruelty and the pain and suffering and sentience. It was out of sight and so out of mind.
If we look at the history of Islam which had its roots in the sands and deserts, it is obvious that many hundred years ago there would have been almost meager vegetation and that’s why the cuisine there was mostly bland (lack of spices) and meat (lack of fruits, vegetables and grains). While Islam does teach about being compassionate and merciful and loving to all the life forms, it doesn’t prohibit meat eating, which fits well for that era. There is no evidence that I could refer to where it has been propagated in Islam to raise farm animals for organised slaughter and profit making if there are alternates available in abundance.
The entire meat eating frenzy which is common to a large part of our society is an organised business that rides on billions and trillions of dollars, cruelty and misery. Each day many million lives are taken in an indefinite number of slaughter houses. Many countries and unfortunately my Country also participates in this madness and crime and holds a distinction of causing maximum cruelty through its extremely crude methods of killing and murdering animals. Billions are earned each day.
As I see it and present my view, I believe, that meat eating in today’s world which provides a sea of alternatives is not as per the teachings of Islam. I believe Prophet Mohammad would have never approved of this, I believe that no Islamic scholar can justify this madness of killing and profit making when it is not required to be as per the tenets of Islam, however it can be very easily proved that this form of mass murder is against the teachings of love, compassion and mercy that Islam preaches so strongly. And it is not only about eating meat and killing animals, another aspect of the same issue is the amount of food grains used in raising these cattle and livestock population, the food that could have very easily fed millions of starving human population.
In Islam, drinking alcohol is prohibited because it is “sharaab” or “water that induces indecency” and is habit forming and is something that is not necessary to life – based on the same principle, meat in today’s context is extremely habit forming and not at all required as there are other options available – so why Muslims should notdenounce meat in total and live the spirit of Islam!
Is it so hard for us to stop eating meat because it has become a habit; is it stronger than the urge to be righteous? Has it become bigger that the religion itself?
I know by writing this I must have disturbed many Muslims, but that is what I meant to do, so that the next time when you have your juicy chicken breast, roasted lamb, steaks or veal, biryani or qorma, roghan josh or stew, kebabs or liver fry.. you take a moment to think that it is coming from one of the murder houses which just made a profit running in billions at the cost of your ignorance about your own religion and you are still happy about it.
This is the time to think again and be a rightful Muslim…. Not eating meat will not kill you however you will save a life somewhere.
Ignorance is a crime, seek knowledge and be an informed and compassionate being that is what we ought to be – all of us!
This template letter on Google Docsis kind courtesy of the Voice of Stray Dogs, Bangalore and makes for a good resource material for those of you trying to educate their own residential societies (RWAs i.e. Resident Welfare Associations) on the best possible legally correct, scientific and humane way of dealing with the ‘subject’ of street dogs in their colonies.
How to do this yourself?
Firstly, readthese two articles to best understand the Rights of Street Dogs in India and the Delhi High Court rulings on the subject of feeding street Dogs, then save the images and the PDF Files embedded in these articles on to your computer, take a print out of these saved files and attach it as annexures to the above letter that you would draft and address to the concerned person in your RWA, seal the letter and send it across through courier or registered post, keep a photocopy of the same set with you. Be strong and fight it out intelligently, the laws are on your side and the dogs, just use your wisdom and intellect to drive the point across to the ‘uninformed’.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on the above subject (kind courtesy of People for Animals):
Q) Can people who feed animals in their areas be stopped by the RWAs or Societies or neighbours under the law ?
A) Article 51A of the Constitutional Law of India, speaks about the duties of every citizen of India. One of these duties includes having compassion for living creatures. So the animal lover is protected under the Constitution.
Article 19 of the Constitution of India, deals with right to freedom and in this freedom comes the right to profession, occupation, trade and business. Therefore, it means that every citizen has the right to occupation and if someone has taken the caring of animals as his occupation, it is legal and he has every right to carry on with his occupation.
Article 21 of the Constitution of India states the right to personal life and liberty. Now this is the very vast right. If someone wants to feed dogs and provides shelter to the dogs, he has every liberty to do so. He has this right to liberty that the law provides to every citizen of India.
But, above every law and rights, there is a natural right too, which is a universal right, that is inherent in the nature of ethics and contingent on human actions or beliefs. It is the right that is claimed to exist even when it is not enforced by the government or society as a whole. It is the right of the individual and considered beyond the authority of a government or international body to dismiss. Therefore, if there are any rights at all, there must be right to liberty, for all the others depend on this. And, loving, caring and feeding and giving shelter to dogs, definitely is a natural right of any individual.
In a judgment passed by the Delhi Court, it has been stated that the Animal Welfare Board of India and the Municipal authorities have in the guidelines issued by them specified the problem often faced by the individuals and families who adopts stray animals and feed them and come to the assistance of such persons. The court says, that it is necessary to bring into record that these individuals and families who adopt stray animals are doing a great service to the humanity as they are acting in the aid and assistance of municipal authorities by providing these animals with food and shelter and also by getting them vaccinated and sterilized. Without assistance of such persons no local municipal authority can successfully carry out its ABC programs. The court has went on to say that the local police and the municipal authorities are under the obligation not only to encourage such adoption but also to ensure that such persons who come forward to take care of these animals specifically the community or neighbourhood dogs so that they are not subjected to any kind of cruelty.
And finally, the court has said that every individual has a right to live his life in the manner he wants and it is necessary that the society and the community recognizes it.
Q) Can an RWA/Society or any individual pick up the dogs in a colony that are sterilized and vaccinated and throw them away somewhere
A) Under the Government of India Animal Birth Control rules 2001 , no sterilized dogs can be relocated from their area. Under 5 High Court orders , sterilized dogs have to be in their original areas. Even if the dog is not sterilized , the Society can simply ask an animal welfare organization to sterilize and vaccinate the dog. They cannot relocate him. Relocation is not permissible as it would cause more problems such as increase of dog bites as dogs are territorial by nature and fight to retain their areas keeping out other dogs.
We are no experts and neither do we run an animal ambulance or hospital that tends to animals. We do it one street dog (or at best two or three) at a time and try to do our best in getting them treated/taking care of them and returning them back to the streets/areas where we picked them up/rescued them from.
We would like to share here what we have learnt, in our few years of doing this work on how best YOU can also try to pick an animal in need; place them in your car and take them to the nearest good vet for treatment/first aid.
Sometimes, a few regular visits to a good vet are all the injured street dog needs to recover back to full fitness. Also, try and learn some animal first aid yourself; and keep a first aid kit handy with regular medicines (please read this link: https://jaagruti.org/first-aid-for-dogs/)
Please remember sending each and every injured/ill animal to the animal hospital is NOT the solution. The animals recover better when treated on the streets, wherever possible, when tended to by animal lovers in the area and taken to vets, as advised periodically(and given supplementary medication mixed in food as advised by the vet) till they have completely recovered.
Some vets also do street dog sterilization surgeries (by prior appointments only) at their private clinics, at minimal costs for the dog lovers who tend to street dogs in their area and are willing to take care of the sterilized dogs in their homes for a few nights till they recover from the surgery, by sheltering them at their homes for this period of recovery. You need to find such good veterinary surgeons around your home so that tending to animals and getting them treated, sterilized and vaccinated doesn’t become a stressful chore for you, but rather a duty you perform with smile and satisfaction.
However, dogs do try to run away when they sense that you are trying to catch them…when they are injured, they may also tend to bite you, that is not because they hurt you, but because they are already in pain, that may have been inflicted by ‘humans’ only, and are thus less trusting of you
So here goes our checklist for catching an injured street dog and taking them for medical treatment:
1. Make sure you are at least two people, as two are always better than one, when it comes to extending moral, emotional and physical support to each other…all of which is required when it comes to getting an injured animal treated.
2. Take some dry dog food with you to tempt the animal to you and allowing the animal to trust you to pet/touch them.
3. Equipments you will need to catch a dog:
a. A naada i.e. a cloth string/rope that is used to tie pyjamas here in India)- it works better than a muzzle and we use the same to tie the dog’s mouth and then take it around the neck and tie it at the back of the neck. The naada is gentle and better on the snout.
b. A dog leash (one with collar and one without collar)- the handle of the leash without the collar also acts as a good thing to put around the dog’s neck, while sliding the leash through it so that it becomes a lock.
c. Cover your car seats/floor with a waterproof cloth or/and old bed sheets to avoid getting your car covers/flooring dirty, as the dogs may vomit (due to motion sickness), pee/urinate or poo/defacate en-route, please be prepared for it (Do this preparatory work in your car before you go to rescue the dog).
4. Lifting the dog: Once the snout is muzzled and the leash is tied around their neck (which also gives us a chance to ensure that the dog doesn’t run away once we land at the vet’s clinic), and then lift the dog up in your arms by placing your hands across/under their chest to establish a tight grip as you lift them up. Yes, you are thinking right, you need to be physically strong and firm on your feet to lift dogs up in your arms this way.
5. Place the dog in your car: We take the dogs in our car, we have a Santro, we push down/fold down the backseat, so that the boot of the car and this space adds up and the dog has enough space. Sometimes, for small-sized dogs, we have used pet carriers; but mostly, we just place them in the car the above way and then when we reach our destination (the vet’s place/hospital)…once you have placed the dog inside your car, roll down the window just by a few inches (for ventilation) and not too much the dog tries to stick its neck out and run away.
6. Also, try to ensure a crowd doesn’t gather (which may happen, as the dog being caught will try to scream as a defensive reaction); too many people crowding together will make the animal nervous. To disperse the crowd, take help of your team mates and gently try to explain them what you are doing and request them to disperse.
What we do? We have, through experience, learnt to talk and explain about such things gradually with different kinds of people; and when we are only trying to benefit a living being, what’s the shame in trying to answer curious queries…People do listen. While we request people to move inside their homes and not crowd about as the animal is in any case scared, some listen, some don’t and when they don’t, sometimes we have to be forceful and assertive in requesting them, while trying to make sure that we don’t enter into a fight by offending their sensibilities, its a test of patience we agree, but then it’s all worth it.
7. Once you reach the vet’s clinic, either request help from their paravets to take the dog from your car to the vet’s examination room/table. Or ensure that you lift the dog back into your arms carefully (taking care that all other windows/car gates are locked) and take him/her inside the clinic.
Please do share your experiences by writing to us at email@example.com or posting comments below. This is just a synopsis of what we do and what works for us.
A few weeks back, someone happened to share with us the following article over an e-mail, the reason we are sharing it here is because we also get asked such questions repeatedly, by the people whom we interact professionally or personally, the most common of them being Why do you work for animals, when there are so many suffering humans around?
Also when we attend to animal-issues specific calls on the Jaagruti helpline, some callers often try to argue with us on the subject saying, ‘human lives are more precious than animals, Madam!’
This article, kind courtesy of OpEd News by Dr. Charles Patterson, author of Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust makes for an inspiring read for people like us, and also tries to address those who question people like us who dare and care to be different in their own quiet ways to make a difference to the animals around them and the humans who care for them.
“Against the Current”
How often have you heard complaints that animal activists are misguided and have misplaced priorities? The implication is that people who care about animals are disrespectful of or even hostile to human values, the oppression of animals being the oldest and most strongly defended human prerogative. Critics ask, how can the interests of animals in any way be as important as human problems like war, poverty, disease, hunger, AIDS, racism, genocide?
Those who claim that the lives of animals are of little or no importance reflect the deep-seated speciesism of our society. They defend the status quo of human supremacy as strongly as the supporters of slavery and white supremacy used to claim that the lives and well-being of slaves were of little or no importance.
Another deep-seated conviction of our society is that when it comes to animals, might makes right. The late AIDS and animal activist, Steven Simmons, described the attitude: “Animals are the innocent casualties of the world view that asserts that some lives are more valuable than others, that the powerful are entitled to exploit the powerless, and that the weak must be sacrificed for the greater good.”
This is, of course, fascism pure and simple. Indeed, it was Mr. Fascism himself, Adolph Hitler, who stated the matter directly: “He, who does not possess power, loses the right to life.” How ironic that Hitler’s view is now flourishing in the United States where millions of cows, pigs, sheep, chickens and other innocent animals are killed every day because they are powerless to defend themselves against the might of the master species.
The great divide between humans and the rest of the earth’s inhabitants began about 11,000 years ago in the Middle East with the so-called “domestication” of animals. The enslavement of oxen, sheep, goats and other animals quickly led to human slavery and the treatment of human slaves like animals. The enslavement of animals increased significantly the level of cruelty, oppression, and conflict in human history.
The vilification of other people as animals followed. Europeans called Native Americans beasts, wolves, and snakes, and Africans transported to the Americas to be sold into slavery were treated like domesticated animals. During World War II Americans described the Japanese as yellow monkeys, dogs, rats, and vermin to be exterminated.
The vilification of people as animals made it that much easier to kill them because most humans have been brain washed from an early age to have little regard for the lives of animals.
In the memoirs of Holocaust survivors, the constant refrain is “they treated us like animals.” Victims of the Nazis were transported to extermination camps in cattle cars and were killed in assembly-line fashion, much like animals are killed today in American slaughterhouses.
The grim but undeniable truth is that our civilization is built on the exploitation and slaughter of animals, and it is from this core oppression that all other atrocities flow. The abuse of animals and the destruction of the earth are the crux of what’s wrong with our society.
Those who advocate for animals and fight for their liberation, radicals in the best sense of the word, are attacking the roots of human oppression in the most direct and effective way. Thank goodness there are people willing to go right to the heart of the matter with their dedicated activism. Each and every one of them is a hero and will be judged as such from the hindsight of history.
I’m reminded of the observation that Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, made more than a century ago. “It’s a matter of taking the side of the weak against the strong,” she said, “something the best people have always done.”
Don’t let anyone tell you that the life-and-death struggle for animals liberation against the fascist underpinnings of our society is anything other than a noble enterprise of the utmost urgency. Nothing is more important.
And don’t worry too much about complaints and criticism.
You will be going against the current of what society thinks, but so be it.
To quote the German poet Goethe, “The world only goes forward because of those who oppose it.”
About the author – Dr. Charles Patterson:
Dr. Charles Patterson is a social historian, Holocaust educator, editor, therapist, and author. His first book, Anti-Semitism: The Road to the Holocaust and Beyond, was called “important” by Publisher’s Weekly. The National Council for the Social Studies in Washington, D.C. presented Patterson with its Carter G. Woodson Book Award for his biography of Marian Anderson at a special luncheon at its annual convention in St. Louis, Missouri in 1989. His most recent book is Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust (now in 15 languages). For more information on his writings and activities, see his website.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, so long as their is somebody to love you”, said Roald Dahl.
Each rescued dog we revisit after rehabilitating them back to their home territories post treatment showers us with bountiful of love, we visited two of them the night before yesterday as we passed by their ‘areas’ (streets where they stay).
For most of us who do anything off the conventional track, like choosing not to burst crackers or spending our Diwali trying to get an injured dog treated, in all likelihood we may be mocked upon and today we just want to tell you, “do not care abut what the world says, its their job to say and we can choose ours, by not listening to their chatter and instead focussing on doing things we love”. For the unconditional love, we get in return from these supposedly ‘speechless beings’ is priceless, that lick on our hands, the tail wagging up and down or sideways, the elated jump…it is all these memorable little moments that make life so worth living.
We believe it when we read that you only get happiness when you give happiness to someone.
We get a lot of calls on the Jaagruti helpline by animal lovers sounding weak, lonely and dis-spirited in their battles fighting their RWAs, neighbours and the world who tries to abuse them, ridicule them, physically assault them, humiliate them, term it whatever..in short anything that breaks their spirits!
We request them all to dig deep through their reserves of courage and hope and amass all strength they can to stand up for, rescue or treat/get treated all those beings whom they love, respect and/or care for. There is no other way!
Because when that dog or any other animal rescued and treated with your efforts, expresses himself to let you know you are the best, you really don’t need to go around seeking a second opinion. Please remember that this world is a better and compassionate place all because of people like you.
On this day after Diwali, we wish all power to your elbow and all strength to the heart of all such people who carry on doing all that they love.
I am writing this post to share with you a very personal story that always springs back to our (me and my brother Vivek’s, we both co-founded Jaagruti) memories every Diwali or rather in the days nearing it, as we start hearing the noise of bursting firecrackers around us, like in the time that I am penning this down.
The year was 1997, I was in Class 11, studying Sciences at D.A.V Public School, Pushpanjali Enclave, Delhi. I was 15 years old at that time, and every Diwali, my mother would pay an uncle of mine (who had his shop in Sadar Bazaar area of New Delhi) to get a box, or often boxes full of an assortment of firecrackers for us, which we enjoyed ourselves with.
But, that year, there was something unusual and uncharacteristic that our school did pre-Diwali, something I had not seen or learnt about in my 7 years of being in that school.
Our school participated in an ‘Anti-Fire Cracker’ campaign. At first I thought, that this campaign was the school’s way of teaching us not to burn fire crackers as burning them lets to our air being polluted and us contracting a host of respiratory diseases. But I was mistaken.
Under this campaign, we were distributed these little red stickers which had the following text written in Hindi.
“Pataakhe nahi jalaayenge, baal mazdoori hataayenge”
(which in English when translated would mean “We will not burn fire crackers and help get rid of child labour”).
Child Labour and Fire Crackers?? I was confused. What was this being talked about…I listened with intent and that was when I first understood that children as old or many years younger to me are employed by Fire Cracker factories across India to make fire crackers, the fire crackers that I had joyfully burnt in all Diwali festivals prior to that year.
While, we the fortunate ones, used our soft and nimble hands and fingers to write, paint and play, in many a villages in India, children like me were labouring to churn out fireworks working for more than 10-15 hours a day, contracting unknown health ailments in the process of making these tiring efforts to feed themselves and their families.
A guilt overtook my conscience that day.
We pledged not to burn fire crackers any more, that Diwali onwards.
The pledge of ours was further strengthened when my fellow classmates enacted a play themed on this subject of ‘Child labour and Fire Crackers’ at the first ever Delhi School Eco-Mela (Eco-fair), held in the lawns of Delhi Public School, Mathura road.
Friends joined in and we convinced our family to not force us to burn fire crackers either.
It has been 18 years since those days and we have been able to stick to the promise we made to ourselves and the pledge we undertook and not burnt a fire cracker ever since.
In 1997, there was no internet we had access to, and neither were there these host of news channels, but today there are many and despite ‘legislations banning the use of children for labour’, many a million kids continue to be exploited and forced to work in and for such fire cracker units even today.
Spare a minute to read one such detailed news article, a 2014 dated news story and watch through the news clips below and think a little before you pick up the next fire cracker to burn this Diwali.
Beena Mohapatra, a domestic maid from Kolkata feeds 35 dogs in her locality. We are glad to come across a story with striking similarity. This picture was making rounds across a lot of groups and Facebook’s Animals – Facts and Anecdotes thought of putting up this story, which we are sharing here…
Our planet can still be considered as an average place to live. All credit goes to the Almighty who handpicked a few messengers to service mankind and other neglected species. One such messengers exist in the city of, Calcutta.
No matter how strange it may sound but some of the richest people on earth who are gifted with almost everything do not have the heart to feed a starving animal outside their house. If you think the act of this street urchin is a real act of humanity, share this story with the world.
She is a street urchin, but gifted with a heart of gold. She hasn’t got any clue what tomorrow has in store for her, yet she is brave enough to make the most out of today. She is a happy-go-lucky soul and this little puppy is like a son to her. Both of them are just inseparable and this picture literally translates the very thoughtful quote of the Marilyn Monroe who once said, “Dogs never bite me. Just humans.”
Beena Mohapatra, aged 55 years is a domestic maid by profession. Out of her meagre income she feeds 35 dogs with 2 full meals in a day. Her dedication towards the strays is evident from the fact that she carries 4 buckets of fish, starch & leftovers from nearby market areas and then takes the effort of cooking them for the stray animals. This is not just a display of tremendous hard work, but also a green concept where nothing in the environment is allowed to go waste. A bunch of animal lovers in the area support her cause by occasionally providing her with rice, medicines and other necessities. But her struggle continues every single day with residents who don’t like her feeding the stray dogs and create some problem or the other. It’s the grit and determination of this poor lady which has kept her going all this while. Affectionately called as ‘Beena Mashi’ by her supporters, she holds a fair amount of knowledge about veterinary medicines that she would need to handle a canine emergency. Given the choice of living with any one of her 2 sons – a farmer and driver respectively, Beena Mashi has chosen to live in her ramshackle house just to serve the mute animals of her lane.
What would you call such a person – angel, god sent messenger or an evangelist? Any adjectives used to define her persona will be an understatement. Salutations to this greater being. Long live Beena Mohapatra, may God always be there by your side. Share this story to tell the world that our planet is still a better place
For this post says so much of what we at ‘Jaagruti’ always wanted to put in words. As she rightly pens, ‘People need lessons in empathy, the imagination to put themselves in place of others or animals’…to spare a moment and feel the way the animals would with all that we humans mete out to them.
People need to realise the
benefit from contact with animals
and the natural world
I happened to be standing at a local bus stop one day when children were returning from school. I suddenly noticed a small group of young boys had collected and were staring at something on the wall behind me.
They were picking up stones. I look around, and there was a chameleon on the wall which the children were determined to kill. I shooed them away, but they kept coming back. Would “blood-lust” be too strong a term to describe the way they behaved?
Children as young as two pick up stones to throw at inoffensive dogs having a nap, while their bovine mothers stand there saying nothing. Of course, if the dog were to give the child a nip in return, all hell would be let loose.
Then there was the dog whose eyes were bleeding. We were to take him to hospital, but he was in a panic and rushed here and there. The young men who were trying to catch him finally succeeded. But in the meantime, a crowd had gathered, laughing and cheering.
You wouldn’t think all this could happen in a country where we are so ready to say our feelings have been hurt! Is this because, in our educational system and elsewhere, we don’t think seriously in terms of educating emotions?
In his autobiography, John Stuart Mill talks about the rigorous system his father put him through. If I’m not mistaken, he says that from the age of three or so, he was made to study Greek, Latin, History, and a great deal more.
At some point in his life, he felt so dead that he was near a nervous breakdown. It was then that he found relief and salvation in reading Wordsworth, whose work put him in touch with feelings that were both experienced and explored.
He is a poet who was as relevant then as he is now: “The world is too much with us; late and soon,/Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we see in Nature that is ours;/We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”
Valuing Science, Engineering, Medicine, Technology is fine. But we are more than scientists, engineers, doctors or computer specialists. Empathy, the imagination to put ourselves in the place of others, doesn’t always come naturally. (It does to my dog.
When I came home with a bandaged eye, he looked at it for a while and then licked my hand.) Nor can we expect to feel empathy all the time for everyone and everything. I, for one, would have happily machine-gunned that lot laughing and cheering while looking at the blind dog.
Sometimes, when I reach a point when I feel I can’t stand any more of this, something reassuring happens. One of half-a-dozen or so of small businessmen who look after animals, and are around the corner from me, asked me to look at a dog the other day.
The dog had a head wound infested with maggots. He was not a local dog. Wounded dogs often run from place to place because they are so distressed. Often people shoo them away. I knew there was really no hope for the dog. When I said this, the shop owner said, “Let’s give him a chance.” So we called the ambulance.
Obviously, people like him don’t need lessons in empathy. They know that we benefit from contact with animals and the natural world as much as animals/ birds benefit from our caring. But perhaps, till the great revolution in empathy arrives, we can make a small start: persuade ourselves to put out a bowl of water for thirsty animals and birds in this awful weather.
To read the Online version of this news story, please click here
Excerpt from this story is quoted below:
The Indira Gandhi International Airport here has initiated measures like using recycled papers at its premises in a bid to become a ‘green airport’. After putting in place some of the green initiatives like rainwater, use of natural lights and efforts to reduce emissions, the airport operator, Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), has now decided to use recycled papers in its offices. For this, DIAL has entered into an agreement with an NGO ‘Jaagruti’, which will recycle the waste paper generated in its offices and get the notepads or A4 sheet made from the recycled paper.
“The collected waste paper would be systematically graded and transported to the recycling mill. There it would be processed to make different quality of recycled paper by using Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) bleaching technology,” a DIAL spokesperson said.
This would save 17 trees, 26,281 litres of water, 264 kg of air pollution, 1,752 litres of oil, 4077 KW hours of energy, 82.62 cubic feet of landfill space, he claimed. As a part of the initiative, DIAL shared one tonne of paper waste for recycling to Jaagruti. “DIAL is committed to conducting its business in an environment-friendly and sustainable manner at IGI airport by minimising the impact of our activities on the environment and community. Environment Management is an integral part of our business strategy towards achieving credibility and business sustainability,” DIAL CEO I Prabhakar Rao said.
If you or the organisation you work with want to associate with ‘Jaagruti’ under our Paper Recycling Initiative to recycle your waste paper, please contactus by filling the form below or calling us on +91-9818 144 244 or writing to us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Court clears duo arrested, humiliated for feeding dogs
Two animal lovers from Thane, who were arrested and humiliated two years ago after a stray dog they used to feed allegedly bit a resident, have finally been acquitted, with a magistrate court ruling that feeding strays was not a crime.
The order provides welcome relief for animal lovers in the city, many of whom are pulled up by their housing societies for taking care of strays. Only recently, well-known director Partho Ghosh had a quarrel with his society management when he was fined Rs 1000 in his maintenance bill for feeding two stray dogs. His family, incidentally, had been taking care of them since they were pups.
This order is only the first victory for Sanjeev Dighe and Yatin Mhatre, who are fighting a separate case in High Court against the State and the police for handcuffing them and parading them around their society. In this, they are being represented by Mahesh Jethmalani and have the backing of, among others, Maneka Gandhi.
For Dighe, a commercial artist, and Mhatre – both residents of Lok Puram complex in Thane – the nightmare started on September 20, 2009. The duo had been feeding strays in their locality for several years, something that had led to many altercations with society members. Dighe says the residents believed this would lead to an increase in the stray dog population in the area.
That night, Dighe was getting ready to go out and feed the strays around 10.45 pm when a posse of cops arrived in a private vehicle and asked him to accompany them to Vartak Nagar Police Station. Mhatre accompanied him there, and a few hours later, the duo were booked under Section 289 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with animals in a particular person’s care attacking someone.
The next morning, both were handcuffed and taken to their society, where they were paraded around, ostensibly to show other residents what happened to people who fed strays. They were then taken to a holiday court, which released them on bail.
In a recent order, Jaishree Poonawala, judicial magistrate first class, remarked that “feeding stray dogs is not a crime”, adding that strays were not the same as pets and certainly not the sole responsibility of those who feed them.
“After our arrest, Maneka Gandhi personally got involved and helped us file the petition in HC through Mahesh Jethmalani,” said Dighe.
This order itself has come as a huge relief to Mhatre and Dighe. “Finally justice has prevailed. Several people like me are often victimised by residents who do not like others feeding strays. We hope this order will help others like us,” said Dighe.
Ajay Marathe, a noted animal rights activist, pointed out that incidents of animal lovers being victimised were common in Mumbai. “Those who feed dogs in their area are treated badly. Most residents are against such feeding and come up with random rules to stop them,” said Marathe.
RK Joshi, convener of Committee to Monitor Animal Welfare Laws in Maharashtra, has recently written to the BMC commissioner highlighting the issue of societies trying to get rid of stray dogs.
He has pointed out that years after Bombay High Court laid down the guidelines for dealing with stray dogs – the HC has put an emphasis on animal birth control and sterilisation – people continued to harass dogs and animal lovers.
“There is growing tendency in housing societies not to permit stray dogs on the society premises or even in the vicinity. There have been instances when dogs are brutally assaulted by the society members or the watchmen,” the letter states, adding that instances of animal lovers being assaulted were common.
The letter urges the commissioner, who is also the chairman of the Monitoring Committee, to urgently look at these issues and ensure that animal lovers and dogs were not harassed.
Ms. Anjali Sharma, Advocate and Legal Advisor to the Animal Welfare Board of India, says that what is extremely significant is this part: “In a recent order, Jaishree Poonawala, judicial magistrate first class, remarked that “feeding stray dogs is not a crime”, adding that strays were not the same as pets and certainly not the sole responsibility of those who feed them.”
This is, as Ms. Sharma explains, because these men had been arrested under Section 289 of the Indian Penal Code – ‘negligent conduct with respect to an animal’, after a stray they were feeding bit a resident of the locality. Section 289 applies to pet dogs, but there has been an increasing attempt on the part of many, including police, R.W.A.s, etc. to bring feeding of strays, and any aggression the strays may show if provoked, within the ambit of this Section.
In August 2011, we at ‘Jaagruti’ began our humble initiative to recycle institutional waste paper in a non-monetary (i.e ‘free’) recycling service which borders on an in-kind exchange programme, where institutions and organisations get back 100% recycled paper (or products) back to use in their work/study space, depending on the quantum and quality of waste paper given by them to ‘Jaagruti’ for recycling.
8 months since we started, it gives us all at ‘Jaagruti’ immense satisfaction at the number of institutional tie ups we have been able to establish under our ‘Waste Paper Recycling Initiative’. In the process, we have also helped make individuals from across various academic institutions, corporates and organisations aware on the benefits of following the principle of ‘Reduce. Reuse and Recycle‘, and helped save many tonnes of waste paper getting recycled again to make fresh paper, without cutting any trees! (As otherwise, producing 1 tonnes of paper would require 17 full green trees to be cut)
To understand how paper is recycled and the need for doing so, please see the short film below:
As part of the ‘Paper Recycling Initiative’ undertaken with ‘Jaagruti’ by Netaji Subash Institute of Technology (popularly known as ‘NSIT’), a prestigious Engineering College under University of Delhi, the sheets of recycled paper were given back to the institute were further deftly stitched into notebooks and registers by ragpickers at Matiala in Dwarka area of Delhi. The same products, made by ragpickers were put on sale at the College’s Annual Festival to raise help raise resources for them. The SIFE Chapter(Students in Free Enterprise Chapter) of NSIT also entered this Project of theirs, christened ‘Project Pratham‘ into the Dell Social Innovation Challenge (see screenshots below)
If your organisation/company is interested in getting yor waste paper recycled, we at ‘Jaagruti’ can help you, please contact us on +91-9818144244 or mail us at email@example.com or post a query below:
Director: Pradip Saha | Producer: Centre for Science and Environment Genre:Documentary | Produced In: 2005
Synopsis: Catch rain where it falls. This is the unambiguous message carried by “The Rain Catchers”, a training and information video on urban rainwater harvesting. And for a world in which access to water – or rather, the lack of it – might drive the next major conflict, this message holds immense significance. The film is an easy-to-use resource guide. It answers all the key questions (including what is urban rainwater harvesting and how is it done), and goes further to look at policy dimensions, products and technologies and maintenance issues across a range of geoclimatic zones in India.
The film takes the viewer to different cities documenting a wide range of very interesting and successful urban water harvesting case studies from industry, academic institutions (university campuses and schools), residential buildings, clubs, colonies, slum dwellings, urban water bodies and sports facilities (stadiums).
BHOPAL: He does not mind skipping his lunch In fact, he did so on many times in the past. But there is one practice he has followed doggedly –feeding stray dogs-for the past 20 years.
The man, Laxmi Narayan Sharma, a clerk with ‘Barkatullah University’ (located in city of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India) been feeding rotis to street dogs on the varsity campus from the day he joined the service, without fail. To some it may appear as fixation but the man, now popularly known as ‘Kutte Waale Baba‘ (which would lovingly mean something like ‘Uncle with dogs’), is beyond all such worldly cares. He carries a bagful of rotis for dogs everyday.
Sharma, a resident of Vidisha, a town 70 km away from Bhopal, comes to his work place with a bag full of rotis. And wait a minute, before setting out on his journey, he starts his day by collecting rotis from hotels and dhabas in Vidisha. “I provide flour to hotels and dhabas in the night and they hand over tandoori rotis in the morning,” Sharma said, adding this gives me immense satisfaction. He said, “I had to once borrow money from my friends to buy food for dogs. I can skip my meal, but cannot leave my friends hungry.” “When he reaches university in the morning, one can see him surrounded by dogs,” Anil Tanwar, an employee of Barkatullah University, said, adding “his devotion for canines must be appreciated.” Sharma spends around Rs 10,000 every month on feeding dogs. “They are my friends and I don’t think it’s a big amount”, he said.
On his off-days, he ensures that ‘his friends’ get proper food in his absence. For this he seeks services of his university colleagues living in nearby colonies.
‘The next time you are a little down, do an act of service — it might just be the gift you need.’
This was the message that came to us through a mail that shared the story of Roadie, a 15 year old dog and his gift to a grieving man. This story was penned by Laura Simpson, a tireless advocate for animals.
Laura writes….”I have the pleasure of meeting hundreds of incredible heroes, but this one caught me off guard. Your hair will stand on end as you read the story of this man and this dog who picked one another up time and time again: ‘I saw in the front yard what appeared to be a very old dog that was in obvious distress. He would walk in a semi-circle, then fall to the ground, then struggle back to his feet and do it again. I saw him do this same thing at least three times as I walked over to him. This was to be by far my easiest rescue because this poor old boy was in no shape to run from me, but also the most heartbreaking”.
About the author:Divya has trained as a wildlife rescuer in Sydney with Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Services. She specialises in birds and that is where she derives the confidence to continue her work in this area after having moved back to Gurgaon. She would love to share her expertise and knowledge with like minded people. Those interested in learning tips about bird care, may please contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org
As I sat outside in my garden, thinking of my pet bird that is in Sydney, awaiting paperwork before it flies to India, a pigeon flies out of a tree and falls on the ground, as if it ran out of ‘steam’.
I waste no time in jumping out of my chair to take a closer look. The pigeon sits still, showing no signs of wanting to fly away. As it sees me coming closer, it starts to walk away, looking for a dark corner for comfort and safety. I immediately knew that this poor fellow is not well. By this time, I also figured that it is a female.
I wait for it to get into a corner of my patio, just behind a pedestal fan. That is when I reach out with my right hand, grab her gently from behind and turn her upside down. I hold the pigeon’s head in the cup of my left hand to keep its eyes covered. Birds are very visual. It can go into a state of panic and even shock to see itself in the hands of a human being. By covering its eyes with one hand or even with a muslin cloth, I am able to calm the bird. This way I am better able to examine it for injuries.
As I had suspected, the pigeon has hurt itself on his right foot. Not bad but it had scratched itself enough to bleed. Fortunately for me, my very helpful daughter, equally passionate about birds and animals, is home because of summer holidays. She is quick on her heels to get some cotton wool, clean water in a plastic bowl (small container in which you get soan papdi…we also believe in and encourage recycle, reuse and reduce policy) and Dettol. We gently cleaned the wound with clean water, making sure all along that the bird is calm and not stressed. I still have its eyes covered for that. Then I cleaned it with cotton wool dipped in diluted Dettol water mix.
I then put the pigeon back in the corner where it felt safe and secure, while my daughter and I got busy in preparing a large box to house the pigeon. After all, it wouldn’t be a sound idea to leave her out in the open, unable to fly and unsupervised.
I got a cardboard box. Thank God I have plenty as I have recently moved from Sydney. Any plastic basket with holes will also do. Make sure it is large and not claustrophobic. Go by your own instinct. I lined the bottom with plastic bag, topped with a couple of newspaper sheets. Now comes the interesting bit. My daughter then spread soft leaves and grass on one half of the box, bearing in mind what the pigeon is used to in the wild. The idea is to provide the bird with what it is familiar with, to make it feel ‘at home’.
In one corner we put another reusable plastic container for water. Remember to put some clean stones at the bottom of the bowl so it does not tip over. Then we spread some bajra all around for the pigeon to feed on. We then carefully picked the bird up again, as before and put him in his new home to recover.
The wounds healed in about two weeks. By now, the pigeon was active and alert. She would spring up to see us walk by. Every morning and evening, I would put the box outside in the garden for the pigeon to get fresh air and see other birds. During the day, the box was placed in a covered shady spot. The water was cleaned every two days and the paper was changed every 3-4 days, depending on how much mess our little feathery patient made.
It’s been a month now and I lovingly call her ‘Poopy’. Unfortunately, the poor bird has a problem with its right wing. But the good news is that she is out of her box. She has found comfort on top of our linen cupboard and that is where she lives along with its water and food bowl. I am not surprised at her natural instinct to be above us and in a cosy corner. That is how they live when outside.
I am still looking for an avian specialist to diagnose the problem correctly and suggest the next course of action for us. Meanwhile, I am not stressed about whether it will survive or not. That is beyond my control. All my family and I can do is keep it safe because a bird that can’t fly is a bird that will either become another bird’s dinner or run over by a car.
For now, all you bird lovers out there, I am sure you now know that it’s not difficult to look after a pigeon and definitely does not cost anything at all. You can do it yourself in the comfort of your own home. . There are lots of birds that get injured, are sick or abandoned and orphaned. It’s not difficult to look after them. All it needs is some basic knowledge, lots of enthusiasm and love.
‘Magic’ is another of our rescued dog stories, for the story of his rescue and recovery is nothing but ‘magical’.
Last year when the Commonwealth Games 2010 ended, it was time to release the street dogs back into the games venue areas where they were picked up from and kept in at shelters for the period of the games.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s SSCBC (Society for Stray Canine Birth Control) decided then that to ensure transparency, the release of all dogs back into their respective areas will be photographed and video-graphed as evidence to comfort all that ‘no dog was dislocated from its original territories’ in conformation with the Animal Birth Control Rules 2001 (drafted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960).
On one such Dog-release exercises happening in South Delhi, I had volunteered to be part of the Release Team and photograph/videograph the release of the dogs as per the details we had of their respective areas at the time of picking them up.
As we were releasing some dogs in the area of R.K Puram, a middle-aged lady came up to me and pointed to a dog that had taken shelter in a shop of his rag-dealer husband. She told me ‘Take him, he has lost his eye’. I asked what happened and went close by, only to see something that I had not imagined. The left side of this male dog’s face was completely chewn apart by maggots and so was his left eye and we all could literally peep into his jaw, see his tongue and it was to say the least, a painful sight.
I requested the MCD Dog Catchers who were accompanying me in the Release vehicle to help catch that dog, but this was not a rescue for the faint-hearted and they couldn’t catch him and he ran far far away.
Next day morning, we at ‘Jaagruti’ decided to make another trip to that area as that lady had shared with me that the maggot-infested dog stays in and around their shop only.
After a few minutes of searching for him, we were able to locate this dog, but now came the big challenge of how to win this dog’s confidence and pick him up to keep him in our car…we had done this before, but this time around we needed some help and help did come to us in the form of the rag-dealer husband of that lady, who was friendly with that dog and helped pick him up and place him in our car. We had used the tried and tested trick of covering his eyes with a cloth and tying a leash around his neck…but then mayhem was to follow as this dog kept running up and down in our car and was scratching his face with the windowpanes, visibly in pain with the maggots tearing into his flesh, oozing blood all over.
We then called upon the ambulance from the Animal Hospital we at ‘Jaagruti’ support through monetary and in-kind contributions and requested them to help us with this rescue case. To our good fortune, their ambulance was nearby…and then we were successfully able to transfer this dog from our car into the ambulance and off he was sent to the hospital.
In the case of any other animal hospital in any part of Delhi or the world, such a severe case of maggot infested dog would have perhaps been euthanized or as they say’ peacefully put to sleep’ and we at ‘Jaagruti’ were prepared to hear that from our trusted vet too, but that wasn’t to be as the docs decided to give it a shot and then began the ‘magical’ treatment of this dog, whom we chose to name ‘Magic’…perhaps because his recovery was magical news for us and also because the name of the dreaded maggots who made this dog’s life hell started that way as well!
As ‘Magic’ underwent treatment, on day 1 his maggots and wound were cleared, on day 2 he was put on drips because with all the maggot clearing medicines going into his mouth, he had stopped eating food through his mouth…the glucose drips continued till day 4 and then came the good news, that Magic had started taking his food himself..
Another month of treatment and recovery followed and on Day 40, he was released back into his area where he was welcomed back by the area residents, all astonished and pleased that he had recovered and so were we!
For all animal cases that we get to attend directly to at ‘Jaagruti’, we just prefer to give them a name rather than referring to them as an anonymous dog or any other creature. But that name is just for us so that on platforms like this blog, we can share that animal’s story with you. We make it a point not to call that animal being treated out with that name, lest the animal gets used to it and then has no one to call it out when he goes back to his/her life on the street after spending his days of recovery either with us or at a boarding or at an animal hospital shelter.
Now, to who is Desty?
Desty is the name we gave to a street dog who landed out of nowhere at our doorsteps a few months back, we were alerted to his presence by the barking and screaming of the other dogs that live on our street. Desty was a new dog, we hadn’t seen him anywhere near the stretch of our colony or the colonies adjacent to ours!
And visibly as we could make out, Desty was unwell. He resisted the barking of our area’s street dogs and made himself comfortable next to our doorstep, we thought he won’t make it and won’t eat, but then when we placed a bowl of milk next to him so that we could examine him, he gulped it in seconds as if he was thirsty for ages…we gave him another bowl and he gulped it again. He was clearly in no mood to go anywhere and he just stayed put over there for the next two days and we kept feeding him. He had no visible signs of injury, but then we noticed something, he was showing signs of twitching and was coughing, symptoms characteristic of early stages of Canine Distemper.
Since we were feeding him, he trusted us enough to lift him and put him in the car to take him to our vet for examination or perhaps when we now look back, we think this was what Desty had come to our doorsteps for!
As the vet examined him, our fears were proved true, Desty was indeed showing signs of Canine Distemper, but the good news was that this was perhaps the initial stage and as per our trusted vet’s advice, we shifted him to the isolation ward of the animal hospital we support and there, under the supervision of our trusted vet, began Desty’s ‘homeopathic’ treatment, a specially designed course designed by human homeopathic doctor by the name of Dr. Shukla who works out of Noida, comprising of homeopathic medicines like Distemperium and Agaricus mixed in strict-secret proportions by him and given every few hours.
Within a span of 10 days, Desty was fit and fine again and we decided to leave him on the street at the very car parking spot where we had first noticed him prior to him coming on his own to our house doorsteps!
We had opted to release him back on the street in the early hours of the morning, so that he could safely chart his way back to whichever area he belonged to and sure enough he did.
We kept thinking about Desty as we couldn’t locate him again after that morning, perhaps this dog was just destined to come to our doorsteps on his own to get himself treated of Distemper, a life threatening disease with no cure if not detected and cured in the early stages of infection. And that is why we chose to name him ‘Desty’.
We were in for another surprise a month down the line, we noticed Desty next to our home yet again, this time hale and hearty and even showing his teeth to the dogs that inhabit our street. We came out, noticed him and remembered him and then he looked at us and sprinted away…we guess he had only come to tell us that he was fine and happy now and to put us at ease.
It is these little inexplicable and often ‘divine’ moments of satisfaction and joy of seeing an animal you helped treat back on its feet again that uplifts our sagging spirits to keep on in our efforts to help those who can’t help themselves.
Life is a puzzle which gets deciphered when we look back and connect the dots. When I was in school, I had yearned for people to come over and talk to us about animals and environment but no one did, I tried to do it myself-telling my fellow classmates about not using polybags to dump kitchen waste as it kills a cow and clogs our drains, but no one listened….probably I didn’t communicate the right way or perhaps that was because our teachers didn’t reinforce what I said or probably because no one had the time to think about ‘going green’ as that buzzword wasn’t around at that time, neither was ‘Environment’ a career option as my School counsellor was clueless when I went and asked her about it.
Nevertheless growing up, I had always harboured deep within me a dream and a desire to go back to my school and speak to students and teachers therein on subjects pertaining to animals and environment because this is all I had always wanted to do and this is one of the reasons ‘Jaagruti’ was born…
And who says, dreams don’t come true, they do take time but I believe they do come true…and sometime back I had the opportunity to go back to my school and address the students in there not once but twice on subjects close to my heart, once on ‘Waste Management’ and the second time around I had the opportunity to address an Eco-Club seminar which was attended to by eco-club teachers from about 15 more schools and a group of Eco-club students from Classes 9-12. The focus of this interaction with teachers and students was to apprise them of the little things they can share with their colleagues/students/classmates on what all we as ‘individuals’ can do in our daily lives to help street animals and care for the environment.
One of the many things I had touched upon in this interaction was how many birds-eagles/kites, crows, mynahs and pigeons often become victims of kite strings-the glass manjhas/threads used by people to fly their kites high into the sky.
Though the kite flying games end, these kite strings often end up tearing through many a birds wings, either while they navigate through the open skies or when later on when these birds perch on the tree branches-their tiny claws/legs and wings remain susceptible to be trapped in the strings left wound around tree branches forever…
Someone in the audience that day in my former school was listening carefully to what I was saying and that was Ms. Rajbir Kaur, a teacher from a neighbouring school who was faced with a similar situation a few weeks later and that is when she called us over on the ‘Jaagruti’ helpline.
As Ms. Kaur’s family was attending to guests, the little kids in the family spotted a pigeon hung upside down from the branch of a Eucalyptus tree, the kids tried and tried along with their father of ways to get the pigeon down, but the tree was so far away from any houses’ balcony and the branches were too high, that it was not within reachable distance from the common ladders and poles we all have in our homes and they were now feeling helpless.
Ms. Kaur called us over, and after listening to the story thus far, we just gave her one calm advice to follow-to call the Delhi Fire Service on 101 and request them to send over their Fire Brigade as their long ladder will help. The Delhi Fire Service staff has time and again helped people help birds stuck in such situations and needless to say when Ms. Singh called 101, they were prompt in sending their Fire Brigade over….just that there was one thing she missed telling them…which is what height the pigeon was stuck on and thus the Fire Brigade that came didn’t have a ladder that long to reach the pigeon. And it was then that we all had to sincerely request the Delhi Fire Service staff to call for the Fire Brigade with a longer ladder and they agreed after initial hesitation. Their hesitation was that since this was a festival day and there could be fire emergencies in the city, how could they be here saving a bird…we assured them that if there is any such emergency; we will let them go and may be God will be kind enough to spare Delhi of any fire disasters and then they agreed :)
The Delhi Fire Service then called upon their most prized possession ‘The Bronto Skylift’, a new entrant into their fleet of Fire Brigades and then began the story of a heroic rescue of nothing but a pigeon who was hanging upside down and still uptil then making everyone wonder whether it was even alive!
But then, as soon as the Bronto Skylift’s ladder reached near that branch, the Pigeon started fluttering its wings in hope and excitement as if to convey that it was well alive and kicking!
The Delhi Fire Service staff got a heroic applause as they brought the pigeon safely down and then taking it to Ms. Kaur’s residence even helped cut the kite string which was wound around its wing, in such a neat manner that there was no injury caused to the pigeon, now named ‘Hero’ by Ms. Kaur’s husband-Mr. Singh. Since it is not advisable to release birds like Pigeons at night time, Mr. Singh’s family gave ‘Hero’ a nice place to rest, grains and water to feed on and even put on their water cooler (while switching the fan off) so that ‘Hero’ has a restful sleep.
Next morning, we went and took the pigeon for further examination to Abhinav at Fauna Police and then the next day since the pigeon was all good and healthy, Mr. Singh got him back on his way back from work and released it onto his balcony.
And then, the anticlimax happened, ‘Hero’ actually ended up being a ‘Heroine’, which is that Pigeon wasn’t a male but rather a female pigeon who then chose to use an abandoned nest atop an almirah placed in Mr. Singh’s balcony to lay her eggs :)
The story of Heroine’s rescue and release has been delightfully documented in the video shared by Mr. Singh with us below. Have a look!
Mr. Singh had this to say, “By saving this bird’s life, the Delhi Fire Service has shown that they respect and value all life (humans and animals) and that is what all of us need to learn and imbibe”.
Then onwards Mr. Singh’s family has also taken the initiative of getting all of their colony’s street dogs vaccinated against Rabies, which were uptil then only being fed by the area residents, but they took on additional responsibility and expense to make sure that these dogs are now vaccinated as well.
It is said that doing one good deed prompts you to do the next one and thus, the spirit of compassion continues to flow!
By Vasudha Mehta ‘Jaagruti’, A visit to PAWS (Plant and Animals Welfare Society), Thane
This is a month overdue report of my February 2011 visit to PAWS in Thane, an animal rescue and welfare organisation located in the Dombivli East, a suburb about 70 kms from Mumbai.
PAWS (Plant and Animals Welfare Society), was founded in 2001 by the young and dynamic Nilesh Bhanage and his college friends. However the journey began three years earlier in 1998, when Nilesh first saw an injured pigeon on his rooftop, his eye was hurt and crows were attacking that helpless pigeon. Nilesh and his friends intervened and rescued that pigeon, but even then they were clueless on how to treat that bird or the nearest place where they could take it to where it could be treated. It was then that Nilesh’s eldest cousin brother who runs a Photo Studio shared with him the details of a young lady named Anamika who used to come to this photo studio to get her photographs featuring animals developed from here. Following this, Nilesh decided to take that pigeon to Anamika’s place and that was the beginning of a new chapter in Nilesh’s life and in the life of many an animals in need in and around Dombivili.
Nilesh shared that, “Anamika was the one who taught me first aid for animals. The other lady that I am inspired by is Goodicia Vaidya who is now the Vice President of In Defence of Animals-Mumbai and who in 1998-99 used to drive an Animal Ambulance from Dombivli to Mahalaxmi, distance of 90 kms one way and back every day tirelessly helping rescue animals in need”.
PAWS was formally registered in 2001 and it got a lease of life when Ahmednagar SPCA donated its ambulance to PAWS in the first formal year of its operations.
The journey thus far
In the world of animal welfare that I had closely observed as a volunteer and a working professional with this sector (which I pursued for about 3 years-2006 to 2008 after I finished studies), the thing that struck me most hard was that sadly, most Animal Welfare Groups don’t work together, there is too much infighting and back-biting that it can easily make a genuine animal lover feel disillusioned and heartbroken. But Nilesh and his team at PAWS were for me a ‘blessed’ exception to what I had seen and experienced thus far.
I first met Nilesh at the Asia for Animals Conference held in Chennai in 2007 and what struck me were his unassuming nature and modesty and his ever-so-willing intent of helping and guiding other groups and people like me who are keen to do more for animals. Also, what impressed me were Nilesh’s extremely professional and transparent ways of operating PAWS, his effective media outreach and awareness initiatives, the timeliness of PAWS newsletters and stories of the month, the transparency and accuracy with which he shared the figures of animals rescued, treated, released, vaccinated and even those that have died.
The fact that PAWS doesn’t have an animal hospital of its own has not been a deterrent in their efforts to help animals as Nilesh works with a tight knit staff and team of volunteers at PAWS and believes in administering on the spot first aid treatment for animals, wherever possible and for those who are severely injured, the PAWS ambulance takes on the onus of dropping the animal, domestic or wild at the designated shelters nearby. And once an animal is dropped for treatment at a veterinary hospital or shelter, Nilesh at PAWS ensures that he keeps following up on the animal’s health status and have it released when the animal has recovered and is in good health. By tying up with veterinary units doing Animal Birth Control programmes I nearby major districts, PAWS has also ensured that they get as many dogs in their area of operations sterilized over the years and all these first aid, and treatment based pick and drop services are catered to by the PAWS team of two ambulances and trained drivers cum paravets. PAWS runs two ambulances, Nilesh oversees the operations of the ambulance operating in Dombivili, Kalyan and Ulhasnagar and Anuradha Ramaswamy, a founder trustee of PAWS since its inception oversees the working of the PAWS ambulance in Thane, Kalwa and Mumbhra regions.
When Nilesh officially registered PAWS as a charitable society and trust in 2001, till uptil July 2010 (i.e. last year), Nilesh was doing a regular job in Mumbai as well besides managing PAWS and it is this that was most inspiring to us. For he wasn’t drawing any income from PAWS and its operations rather spending whatever he had personally, be it time, effort or money to still run an effective animal rescue organisation that was volunteer-driven.
And the above is what we at Jaagruti are also successfully aiming to do, thus despite me and my brother having regular full time jobs to cater to, we started ‘Jaagruti’ formally in end of 2009 and do try our best to spread awareness on these issues, treat and rescue as many animals in our area as possible while facilitating those we can’t besides hosting a 24 hour helpline of ours to attend to any and every animal and environment based query that could help guide a person to care for animals and help the environment in their own little ways.
Now, Nilesh works as the Manager of the India National Rabies Network with the Worldwide Veterinary Services and this job is helping him drive his income from also doing what he likes doing, which is helping animals besides devoting all of his attention and time to managing and expanding the operations of PAWS.
Staff and Volunteers at PAWS
PAWS has a network of 300 registered members connected via a google group and off these about fifty are dedicated volunteers who take turns to contribute their skills, be it rescuing all kinds of birds and animals, administering them first aid, designing brochures and other awareness literature and hosting fundraisers and awareness events etc.
PAWS looks after its volunteers by administering them preventive anti-rabies and tetanus vaccinations as part of its ‘Protect the Protectors’ vaccination drive, the volunteers are reimbursed their vehicle expenses post submission of the animal rescue form and the receipt from the animal hospital where the injured animal was dropped post rescue, the top 20 volunteers who help in rescuing animals are also aided by PAWS with a Medical/Health insurance policy and besides this PAWS has distributed First Aid kits to 5 volunteers in Dombivili who help out with Animal First Aid regularly and their medicine stocks are also replenished as and when they run out of it.
How we at Jaagruti wish that there were dedicated volunteers like this around in Delhi too! But I guess a big city like Delhi has its own problems where volunteering is a matter of convenience and not commitment, but we do hope things will change and one day, all other cities would also have dedicated volunteers like the ones PAWS can proudly boast off.
I also had the opportunity to participate at a Vaccination Drive organised at Kharegaon, Kalwa (Supervised by PAWS trustee Anuradha) in which with the help of 8 volunteers, lead by the just graduated Veterinary Doctor Anahita, 55 street dogs were administered Anti-Rabies vaccines, many animals were administered first aid, and many little pups dewormed. PAWS organises such Anti-Rabies vaccination camps every weekend in various areas of Thane District along with community support and help spread awareness amongst community residents as well on how best to live in harmony with street animals and look after them.
Other than the volunteers, the full-time staff employed by PAWS includes two part time office assistants, two ambulance staff who act as both drivers and paravets and two rescue staff, both of who are young boys from orphanages housing kids orphaned in the Latur earthquake of 1993.
PAWS has a philanthropic side to its activities in the domain of ‘human welfare’ as well as we learnt that PAWS donated its first ambulance received in 2001 from SPCA Ahmednagar, which happened to be a matador to St. Josephs’s School which happens to be a schools nearby PAWS office where children with special needs are taught alongwith ‘normal ‘kids uptil Class 4. Besides this, PAWS regularly ties up with societies working with blind and under-priveleged children to organised joint fundraising activities through merchandize made by these societies.
Often, people like Nilesh and us at ‘Jaagruti’ and many who work for animal welfare are asked this question of why we care for animals when there are so many humans suffering? And to this my answer is that caring for voiceless animals doesn’t mean that we care less for humans, infact the activities done by PAWS for children with special needs and other societies working with orphaned, disabled and underprivileged children only goes to prove that people who think and care for animals and their suffering have a very high empathetic quotient, they are sensitive people who care equally deeply about humans and their suffering, it is just that they prefer volunteering their hands-on efforts to animals, because there are in any case man few people fighting for animals and their rights to live lives of respect and dignity.
For anyone working for the cause of animals or for that matter, any alienated social cause, the support extended by ones’ immediate and extended family is of extreme significance. For working selflessly and tirelessly for a social cause takes away more than your time, it draws on your personal space and even your mental and emotional energies extensively. I say this for me and my brother-Vivek too for we couldn’t have continued with our and Jaagruti’s efforts had it not been for the immense moral and priceless support we had received from our mother. A strong and supportive family surely helps retain our state of mental and emotional well-being, staying grounded, practical and should I say ‘sane’!
And this is what prompted me to understand how Nilesh’s family thinks about the work he and PAWS does? Nilesh is the youngest of 7 cousin brothers (and a sister) in his big Maharshtrian family. His parents work in the Railways and are now very supportive of the work he and PAWS does.
Though initially Nilesh’s parents found the animal rescue work he did a bit strange! When I asked him how their perception about his and PAWS work changed, Nilesh shared, that, “One day my mother went to the vegetable seller in the nearby market to buy vegetables and it was then that, the vegetable seller and his wife spoke highly of the work PAWS does as we had once helped get their pet female dog sterilized and treated for which they week extremely grateful to my mother. That bitch of the vegetable sellers is now over 10 years old, hale and hearty. That incident changed my mother’s perception. Many such incidents followed wherever she went in our area and soon she and my father started feeling proud of what I did through PAWS.”
Nilesh’s family is extremely supportive of his efforts; his parents live in the floor beneath his in the building named ‘Savitri Sadan’ after his paternal grandmother. ‘Savitri Sadan’ was once a the big family home of Bhanage family but about a decade back, the family decided to convert it into a building and the different brothers moved into different apartments and floors in the same building. But in this age of nuclear families and rifts in relationships, the Bhanages are indeed a family that stays and prays together as they keep teeming up and meeting for each of the festivities and little joys the family celebrates. The whole family also extends its support to PAWS by housing injured animals received from volunteers in their premises when Nilesh is not around.
*Manasi and Dishita:
In the world of animal welfare that I had seen thus far, many people are not married and even if they are, their marital lives are far from being ‘ideal’, but by God’s blessings, Nilesh and his wife Manasi are a ‘super couple’, devoted to the cause of animals and their welfare.
Before meeting Manasi, I had always imagined that Nilesh would have met Manasi while rescuing an animal somewhere or the other, but to my surprise that was not the case. Nilesh shared that his meeting Manasi was purely ‘divine intervention’ as they met in a Tourist Bus in 2006 when Nilesh was travelling with his friends on a short pilgrimage trip to Sai Baba of Shirdi. Manasi was in the same bus taking her grandmother to the holy place. Manasi was not an animal lover or animal welfare person to begin with, she was an HR Management Professional working in a Mumbai based company; but as Manasi shared, “I always knew rescuing animals was a way of life for Nilesh. Even in our courtship period, I was truly amazed by all that he had accomplished and aimed to do at such a young age for animals and PAWS uptil then”.
But Manasi’s life was to change as well, when she started accompanying the PAWS ambulance on its daily rescue calls following the birth of their daughter Dishita which had prompted Manasi to leave her regular job as well. As Manasi saw the suffering of animals on the street and the tender affection and commitment with which Nilesh and the PAWS team nursed them back to fitness, Manasi was gradually inspired to do her bit, she and she surely has done more than her bit and her efforts are only growing by the day in aiding Nilesh in all his efforts with PAWS.
Manasi and Nilesh complement each other’s skills tremendously in life and also while working for PAWS. While on one hand, Manasi’s strong interpersonal skills help her organise and arrange for funding to sustain PAWS activities, her HR skills also help calm down (and retain) the staff and volunteers who may sometimes feel overwhelmed by Nilesh’ strong and tireless work ethics and his methodical attention to details, on the other hand, Nilesh’s vast experience in animal welfare and his global network coupled with his diligence, determination and professionalism have helped ensure that PAWS has continued to remain the lifeline for the animals living in the suburbs of Mumbai.
And expectedly so Nilesh and Manasi’s two year old daughter is following in her parents footsteps, she is not afraid of animals and keenly observes her father rescuing and treating all animals, be it birds, dogs, cats or even snakes! Manasi’s companion these days are their pet cats Bitty and Kitty. Kitty who happens to be adopted and blind is about an year old and Nilesh adopted her the moment he first received an SOS adoption message about her many months back, Kitty has learnt to find her way in the house, the PAWS office and the accompanyiong staircase. She is extremely lovable, gorges on her favourite catfood ‘Drools’, is potty-trained and now also sterilized and Kitty with Dishita are surely, by the way it seemed, are both adorable darling apples of Manasi’s eyes too!
Nilesh’s 16 year old pet dog Raju, who passed away in December 2010, was Dishita’s first introduction to animals, she used to even sit on his back and take rides on him and Raju patiently let her do all of it as Manasi watched in awe! Raju was a special dog in Nilesh’s life too; his photo now adorns a prime place in the walls of the living room of Nilesh’s house. “Raju has seen both me and PAWS grow, he was 3 years old when I started working for animals in 1998 and had been with me and PAWS for 13 years thereafter. He has been with me and my family through everything and we all miss him and his presence in our lives and the void will remain so always.”…Nilesh also shared that in his younger days, Raju used to walk till the local railway station to drop off his parents as they left for their work in Mumbai early morning and then used to return back home on his own without getting into a fight with any of the dogs along the way!
The journey ahead….
PAWS formally got access to a Rescue Centre of its own last year thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Maneka Gandhi of People for Animals which operated this premises in 1994-95 and the place was lying unused ever since. This rescue centre is located at Murbad, about 50 kms away from Dombivili .
With this PAWS Rescue Centre at Murbad nearing completion and renovation, Nilesh aims to generate more funding resources to make the Rescue Centre sustainable. Like us at Jaagruti, Nilesh agrees that Rescue centres should only be aimed at treating animals to fitness and then releasing them back in their natural surroundings or where they were picked up from. “Only those animals who are so badly handicapped that they can’t fend for themselves should be housed at a shelter for life”. Says Nilesh and we at Jaagruti second that, for if animal shelters keep on housing and feeding healthy animals then according to us at Jaagruti also this habit of ‘hoarding and collecting healthy animals at shelters’ robs an injured animal in need of much needed space and the resources spent on feeding and fattening healthy animals at shelters can be best spent on treating many an injured animal.
“My aim now is to start an Animal Birth Control Unit and a full-fledged veterinary hospital at the PAWS Centre in Murbad. It will be a long drawn process but I am sure we will be able to do so”, shares Nilesh. Nilesh’s immediate goal is to recruit honest staff to support housekeeping and medical needs of animals at Murbad and generating resources for the same is something Manasi plans to take on with gutso as she plans a non-profit event management company of her own, that could help PAWS to generate funds for its operations through event-based awareness and fund-raising activities.
We at Jaagruti wish them and the team at PAWS the very best in all their efforts and promise hereby to continue to support them in whatever way we possibly can.
We also express our deep gratitude to Nilesh and Manasi for making these three days of mine spent with them one of the most enriching learning experiences of my life, which will for sure continue to inspire us all at Jaagruti in our efforts as we aim to expand our reach and efforts from a modest beginning thus far. A big thank you!
If you want to learn more about the work PAWS does and help support Nilesh and his team in their efforts, please click on www.pawsasia.org.
If any one of you reading this can draw any lessons and inspiration from this article penned by us, this whole effort of ours at Jaagruti will further strengthen our objective of informing, sharing and inspiring as many people as we can about animals, the people who work for them and make this place a kinder and a better place to live in!
In August, this year when we at ‘Jaagruti’ received a call from the Gulati family in Faridabad alerting us to the fact that their colony RWA was disallowing them to take their dog ‘Pixie’ in the building lift, it prompted us to do some research on such cases in India, following which we had come out with this article explaining how people could act in such cases.
Yesterday, however brought good news to many a residents fighting this battle for their dogs with their colony RWAs with the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum at Mumbai giving a judgement in favour of the D’Souza family and saying that, “Dogs are part of family, and they can use lifts for free”
Please read the article below in Times of India dated 30th November 2010
The below story Courtesy: Anand Holla and Mumbai Mirror gives more details on this ruling of the court.
Dogs are family, can use lifts for free, rules court
This judgment by a Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum at Mumbai will help make life much easier for pet owners in multi-storeyed apartment complexes facing harassment from their RWAs regarding use of lifts by pets.
Mahim society asked to stop charging residents for letting pets use building elevators. Consumer forum says if milkmen can use it, so can dogs
The status of dogs in housing societies have been elevated. In a judgment that will set a precedent for housing societies on how to treat pets, the Central Mumbai Consumer Redressal Forum has rapped a Mahim society for charging one of its member Rs 500 for each of his two dogs using the elevator.
The D’Souzas had been paying Rs 500 a month so their dog Barney could use the lift
Noting that pets are members of the modern, urban family, the forum ruled there is no reason why pets can’t use elevators when outsiders, including service providers such as milkmen and vendors, have access to the facility without any charges.
The family in question — the D’Souzas — resides on the 10th floor of Our Lady Of Velankanni And Perpetual Succour society. The D’Souzas, 58-year-old Allwyn and Eleanor, 52, were shocked by the resolution passed during the society’s general body on August 10, 2008, charging Rs 500 per month for each pet using the lifts. The move hit the couple hard as they would use the elevator to take their pet dogs Barney, a labrador, and Dash, a mongrel, for a daily walk.
When the family protested, the society management justified the decision by saying the pets cause “nuisance due to the stench and threat, causing inconvenience to the members” and that “extra electricity (was) consumed due to unnecessary trips by the lift because of the dogs,” among other factors.
The D’Souzas were left to fend for themselves as the other family in their building that had a pet stayed on the third floor and took to stairs after the diktat. Challenging the society’s decision, Allwyn D’Souza moved the consumer forum while continuing to pay Rs 1,000 every month “under protest”, along with maintenance bills.
D’Souza’s lawyers Udav Wavikar and Rashmi Manne contended before the forum that pets are pampered and loved as much as any other family member, and hence, should be considered part of the family. Invoking religion and mythology, the lawyers said a dog is considered an incarnation of a deity in Maharashtrian culture.
The lawyers further argued that forcing dogs up and down 10 floors amounts to sheer cruelty. To bolster his case, Allwyn collected signatures of society residents to attest that they had no complaints against his dogs. The society, however, said the dogs dirtied lifts by either urinating in them or soiling them, and there was the danger of them biting other residents. The society also argued that dogs are not members of the D’Souza family, and the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act doesn’t include them in the bracket of family members. It claimed the forum had no jurisdiction to hear the complaint.
However, the bench of Nalin Majithia and Bhavna Pisaal observed last week, “We don’t find the society’s view correct. The D’Souzas pay all normal charges and to charge them an extra Rs 500 towards each dog is illegal, and is an instance of unfair trade practice. In Indian culture, dogs are common pets and usually treated as lovingly as other members of the family.”
The forum noted that no resident had ever taken any objection to D’Souzas’ pets. “In a populous city like Mumbai, there is always a shortage of space and multi-storeyed buildings are fast filling up the landscape. Several outsiders such as milkmen, newspaper and vegetable vendors, laundrymen, sweepers, etc, use the building lifts on a daily basis. In such a scenario, the society’s decision to levy charges on residents’ pets for lifts usage is inappropriate,” the forum held.
Ordering the society to return the entire amount it has collected from the D’Souzas along with nine per cent interest and Rs 5,500 towards mental and physical torture and legal costs, the forum held, “The society has indulged in unfair trade practices and it is incorrect on their part to charge the D’Souzas.”
From October 2008 till September 2010, D’Souza paid “dog fees” to the society. Allwyn said, “Our dogs were kept absolutely clean and healthy. We would take them out only twice a day and they never misbehaved with anybody, nor dirtied the lift or the society premises. Some members of the society passed this order only to harass us.” Happy with the order, he said, “This will come as a relief to many residents who are similarly harassed over their pets.”
Lawyer Wavikar said, “If pets dirty the premises, their owners should be made to clean up the place. However, charging residents for keeping pets is completely unjust. With the city constantly experiencing vertical growth, this landmark judgment will go a long way in settling the issue on pets and their rights to use building facilities.”
The society’s lawyer, Anand Patwardhan, termed the forum’s order as ‘perverse’ saying the case should have been decided by a co-operative court. “The society is fully justified in charging additional money as provided in the by-laws of the Co-operative Society Act. Consumer forums shouldn’t trespass the jurisdiction of other courts – in this case a co-operative court.”
While Dash died last year, Barney can now use the lift without burning a hole in his owner’s pocket.
One of the saddest things is an old dog left in a shelter by an uncaring human family. Common excuses people use are that they don’t have enough time for the dogs or that they are moving (although I have never heard of any state in the U.S. where dogs are illegal). In this disposable society we live in, some people actually dump their family dog in a shelter and walk out with a new puppy. Imagine the fear, sadness and confusion that an old shelter dog faces.Even worse, their time in the shelter is spent watching people walk past their cages, barely seeing them, instead rushing to the cute puppies.
Why would anyone consider sharing their home with an older dog, when there are so many younger ones available?
By adopting an older dog, you can make a statement about compassion and the value of all life at all ages, as well as register a protest against the indiscriminate and inhumane breeding of dogs, whether it is for profit or to “teach the children about birth.” And, of course, just as a puppy has his whole life ahead of him, so does an older dog have the rest of his life in front of him. You can give that older dog the best years of his life while at the same time bringing a wonderful addition into your family.
1. What You See Is What You Get
Older dogs are open books—from the start, you’ll know important things like their full-grown size, personality and grooming requirements. All this information makes it easier to pick the right dog and forge that instant love connection that will last a lifetime. If you’re not so into surprises, an older dog is for you!
2. Easy to Train
Think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Hogwash! Older dogs are great at focusing on you—and on the task at hand—because they’re calmer than youngsters. Plus, all those years of experience reading humans can help them quickly figure out how to do what you’re asking.
3. Seniors are Super-Loving
these dogs give you—and those of you who adopted dogs already in their golden years told us how devoted and grateful they are. It’s an instant bond that cannot be topped!
4. They’re Not a 24-7 Job
Grownup dogs don’t require the constant monitoring puppies do, leaving you with more freedom to do your own thing. If you have young children, or just value your “me time,” this is definitely a bonus.
5. They Settle in Quickly
Older dogs have been around the block and already learned what it takes to get along with others and become part of a pack.They’ll be part of the family in no time!
6. Fewer Messes
Your floors, shoes and furniture will thank you for adopting a senior pooch! Older dogs are likely to already be housetrained—and even if they’re not, they have the physical and mental abilities to pick it up really fast (unlike puppies). With their teething years far behind them, seniors also are much less likely to be destructive chewers.
7. You Won’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
There are those who yearn for a doggie friend of their own, but hold back because they worry what might happen in their lives in the years to come. And they are wise to do so—a puppy or young dog can be anywhere from an 8- to 20-year responsibility, which is not appropriate for the very elderly or those with certain long-term future plans. Providing a loving home for a dog in her golden years is not a less serious commitment, but it can be a shorter one.
8. They Enjoy Easy Livin’
Couch potato, know thyself! Please consider a canine retiree rather than a high-energy young dog who will run you ragged. Not that older dogs don’t require any exercise—they do—but they’re not going to need, or want, to run a marathon every day.
9. A good night’s sleep
Older dogs let you get a good night’s sleep because they’re accustomed to human schedules and don’t generally need nighttime feedings, comforting, or bathroom breaks.
10. Time for yourself –
Older dogs leave you time for yourself, because they don’t make the kinds of demands on your time and attention that puppies and young dogs do.
Senior dogs whose lives have been disrupted in their later years have so much love to give and like nothing better than giving it. They tend to rely heavily on their owner for companionship and therefore bond very quickly. The desire to reciprocate the companionship given to them is very strong.
12. Seniors for seniors.
An attractive concept used by many animal rescue/humane organizations, an older dog can be successfully matched up with a senior citizen. Lifestyle requirements of an older person often mix well with the lifestyle of an older dog. It’s a win/win situation, resulting in quality retirement companionship for both.
13. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
You sure can. While it may take an older dog a bit longer to adjust to new situations, they can; they will; they do. Their only requirement is to be given the opportunity. Generally, older dogs are calmer and therefore will focus much easier on what you are trying to teach them.
14. Save a Life, Be a Hero
At shelters, older dogs are often the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized. Saving an animal’s life offers an unparalleled emotional return on your investment, and you’ll feel the rewards every day you spend together.
15. They’re CUTE!
Need I say more?
Please consider adopting a senior dog , you won’t be sorry. Your decision to adopt a senior pet will be rewarded with unconditional love and devotion..
The below story is kind courtesy and copyright of : Daily Good.
We are sharing it here because it meets one of the objectives behind the intent of ‘Jaagruti’ which is – spreading respect and compassion towards members of the canine family.
Two-Legged Dog to Inspire British Troops Wounded in Afghanistan
BY MARC HERTZ | WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 18, 2010 5:45 AM ET
A dog named Faith inspires others simply by being able to walk with just her two hind legs.
There are some things you have to see to believe, and Faith is one of those. She’s a labrador-chow mix born without one front leg and another that was severely deformed, only to be removed when Faith was seven months old due to atrophy. What’s truly amazing about Faith is that, despite having only her two hind legs, she can still walk on them, as you can see in the video below.
Faith is something of a celebrity, having appeared on Oprah a few years ago, and according to The Sun, she’s actually an honorary sergeant. The US Army gave her that title because she’s helped disabled veterans trying to overcome injuries they sustained in war zones, even donning a military jacket when she visits bases or hospitals. As her owner, Jude Stringfellow, was quoted, “Faith seems to inspire these young men. It’s very emotional watching them respond to her. She shows what can be achieved against great odds.”
Now, she’s planning to go international. Stringfellow wants to bring Faith to the UK, so she can bring her own brand of inspiration to those troops wounded in Afghanistan. Before she can do so, though, quarantine rules will have to be met. For the sake of those wounded soldiers, let’s hope they have the chance to see Faith “marching” their way.
On the afternoon of 10th August 2010, the Jaagruti helpline received a call from Mrs. Usha Gulati in Faridabad who informed that the residents welfare association of the colony in which they stay had objected to them taking their Pet dog Pixie up and down the building lift from their 5th floor flat. Ms. Gulati and her family was willing to take Pixie down (for his walks) using the stairs but given his age (Pixie is 10+ years old) and the fact that they live on the 5th Floor, the Gulati family was not willing to cow down to the demands and orders of the RWA in any way and were even willing to take this matter to court should the RWA remain adamant in its stance on this subject.
Most of the times the arguments that RWA office bearers give to pet owners while objecting them to using the building lift with their pets- ‘the pets odour is harmful for human health’, ‘pets are dirty’, ‘pets make the lift dirty’, ‘pets can pounce or growl or attack other people in the lift’ and the list goes on as per the whims and fancies of the RWA representatives.
Ms. Gulati mentioned to us that she has a copy of a news clipping that came out in Times of India newspaper in December 2008 in which a Mumbai resident had approached a consumer court for his pet dog Shimu. Further to this Ms Gulati wanted to know from us if there was any previous judgment in this regard that they could use to help Pixie. Below is presented a step-by-step guide on how to tackle such a problem which, as we learnt is a common problem faced by many people living with their pets in buildings with lifts face across many cities in India. The key to coming out victors in such a situation is to have cent percent commitment towards your pet and to be willing to stand up for your pet’s rights, for pets are family!
Through the power of the internet, we enquired upon this ‘Pets being denied lift access’ subject from people across the animal welfare fraternity across India, the following facts came to light and we are sharing this information in our effort to inspire all those who face similar problems to act accordingly when faced with such situations. As for what transpired in the story of Pixie, read this till the end:
The only preceeding judgement in such a case was when Mr. Ajay Marathe, a resident of Mumbai’s Vashi Colony approached the Consumer Court (on 26th September, 2008) when his colony’s association passed a resolution disallowing them to use the building lift with their pet dog ‘Shimu’, who was then 11 years old who was suffering from osteo-arthritis (pain in the bones and joints)
The following trail of news stories on Shimu’s case illustrate the trail of events on this subject as well.
No entry for pets in lifts, Vashi housing society tells residents
N Ganesh Fri Sep 12 2008
Mumbai, September 11 : Says odour may be harmful to health; SPCA takes up issue
Life for 11-year-old Peter-Pan alias Shimu, a Labrador Retriever, has become tougher than ever. Shimu stays with his owners, Ajay and Nandini Marathe, on the fifth floor of New Sarvodaya Co-operative Housing Society, at Sector 4 in Vashi. Shimu has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, an ailment in which the patient suffers from severe joint pain. However, Shimu will now have to use the staircase instead of the lift, as a resolution passed by the general body of the society bars pets from using the building elevator.
On August 3, 2008, the general body resolved to prevent use of lifts by residents accompanied by their pets. According to a notice issued to Marathe and the general body resolution, the society fears that the odour of the pets which is left behind in the lifts, can be hazardous to the life and health of the building residents. In the month of May 2008, the society sought numerous documents certifying the fitness levels of the dog. Marathe, who has a licence for the dog, produced a certificate issued by the Bombay Veterinary College that dog is licenced, vaccinated, healthy and does not suffer from any infectious or contagious disease. The Bombay Veterinary College certificate also adds that since the dog is aged and suffering from osteoarthritis, it should be allowed to use the lift, as climbing the stairs would be a painful task.
Marathe tried to find a way out by using air fresheners after the use of lift by the pet dog. However, the society officer tersely told Marathe that use of air fresheners was not recommended.
After a complaint of Marathe, the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has taken up the issue. S B Kadam, assistant secretary, SPCA said, “SPCA inspectors have paid a visit to the society and asked the office bearers to be practical and permit use of lift for the pet dog concerned. We will be hearing from them soon.”
Marathe said, “I paid the watchman from the neighouring building to carry the dog up and down the building thrice a day so that he could answer nature’s call. This arrangement worked fine for a few days, however he stopped coming after being warned by society office bearers.”
Meanwhile, Marathe has temporarily shifted Shimu to his in-laws place at Pen in Raigad district. Chairman of the housing society Arvind Palwankar said, “It is a very old sick dog with a bad odour. We only prevented Marathe from using the lift. Moreover, Marathe is a nuisance as he relentlessly complains against the society to the authorities about all things trivial.”
What the law says
Advocate Rahul Thakur who is associated with In Defense of Animals (IDA) said that the society resolution violates section 11 (3) of Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act 1960. It is also against article 51 A (g) of the Indian Constitution according to which it is the duty of every citizen to have compassion for animals, living creatures and improve the natural environment. Thakur said, “The society resolution is illegal as it is unconstitutional.”
Please note the underlined portion in the last paragraph of the above story.
Luckily for Shimu, who is now in good heavens, the Consumer Court upheld the society’s resolution and passed the judgement in his favour and also asked the Association to pay Mr. Ajay Marathe Rs.5000/- in lieu of the damages and the expenses incurred by him on this court case.
Please read through the following news stories:
Peter Pan can use apartment lift now
N Ganesh Dec 17, 2008
MumbaiThis 11-year-old dog was barred from using lift by the housing society in Navi Mumbai
The consumer forum came to the rescue of a 11-year-old dog, Peter Pan alias Shimu, who was not allowed to use the apartment lift by the office bearers of a housing society in Navi Mumbai. Shimu, a pet belonging to Ajay and Nandini Marathe, residing on the fifth floor of New Sarvodaya co-operative housing society was barred from using the society lift. Shimu had been diagnosed with osteoarthritis — an ailment that causes acute pain in the joints.
In its order dated December 11, 2008 the Thane District Additional Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum ruled that the housing society’s move to prevent pets from using the apartment lift without any valid reasons amounted to deficiency in service to the members as per section 2 (1) (g) of the Consumers Protection Act.
The Marathes were asked to produce documents certifying the illness of the dog. However, despite producing the required certificates and reports, the general body of the housing society in August 2008 resolved to ban pet animals from using apartment lifts.
The housing society contended before the forum that the dog was not a consumer of the housing society and hence the forum cannot hold the society liable. The consumer court however said in its order: “The issue of ‘dog’ being or not being the consumer of the society is not valid, instead the valid issue should be whether the complainant is consumer of the housing society or not.”
Since the membership of the Marathes to the housing society was not disputed, the consumer court said: “The dog has valid license and has been certified by a veterinary doctor of having no contagious and infectious disease. It has received all its vaccines. The doctor has also recommended the use of lifts owing to its condition.”
The housing society contended that the use of lifts by pets threatened the safety of the residents. However the Consumer court held that the housing society’s decision to ban pets from using lifts was without any valid reasons and hence amounted to deficiency in service. The court has ordered the housing society to pay Rs 3000 as damages and Rs 2000 as legal expenses to the Marathes.
18th December, 2008, Published in: The Times of India
Mumbai: An 11-year-old Labrador has emerged a champion of dog rights by not only winning for himself the right to travel in the elevator of his apartment complex in a Mumbai suburb but getting his master a Rs 5,000 compensation from the apartment’s anti-pet managing committee.
The Thane District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum passed an order, defending Shimu aka Peter Pan’s right to use the left and directed the society to compensate the owner for the harassment he faced. The dog’s owner, Ajay Marathe (52), a fifth floor resident of New Sarvoday Cooperative Society at Vashi, told TOI on Wednesday: This is a very good judgement given in our favour in real time. In fact, a lot of pet owners face the same problem in Mumbai; this order can be an important reference point to help them use their society lifts.
Marathe added that the 35-kg Shimu suffered from pain in the joints and couldn’t use the stairway. The society this May passed a resolution, saying pets like cats and dogs could not be allowed in the lift as their body odour could be injurious to health and life, which I found to be ridiculous, he said.
Marathe first went to the cops, but failing to get a sympathetic response from them, he lodged a case in the Thane consumer court. The consumer court has given this judgement in less than three months. The Rs 5,000 compensation for my pet is also welcome as I had to temporarily shift Shimu to my in laws house in Pen, which caused some discomfort to him, he said.
To read the full judgement given by the Consumer Court on this case in favour of Shimu the dog, please click here
Since Shimu passed away soon after this judgement was announced, Mr. Marathe donated the Rs.5000/- compensation he received to the animal welfare charity named PAWS which used this contribution to publish brochures on the ‘Tree Protection Act’, which carried Shimu’s name on it as a mark of honour to his spirit.
Now, coming back to Pixie’s case in Fraidabad, here is what happened-
Deriving inspiration from Mr. Marathe’s stance on getting justice for Shimu, Ms. Usha Gulati’s familytook the press clipping of Shimu’s news (which had come out in TOI in December 2008) and approached the Local Police with the copy of the same and lodged a complaint against the RWA…the cops then called and came over to meet the RWA representatives and following all of this, an amicable solution was reached upon in which it was agreed that the Gulati family would be allowed to bring their pet dog Pixie down the stairs for his walk and after he has relieved himself and there is apparently nothing in his stomach to ‘dirty’ the lift with, he can take the lift upstairs to his fifth floor house along with his owner.
So, next time you face such an issue, consider using all of this information above and stand up to seek justice for your animal friends. Trust us, its all worth the effort and a way to (try to) pay back for all the love that your pet animal has showered upon you unconditionally.
However, we would like to also suggest to you that as always prevention is better than cure so please be mindful of a few other things a ‘responsible’ pet owner can follow while using the lift with their pet, to avoid inconvenience to the fellow lift users:
1. Make sure that your pet dog/cat is vaccinated to avoid any health related arguments from fellow building residents.
2. Keep your pet animal on a leash.
3. If your pet is aggressive and has a tendency to bite strangers, then it would be better to put a muzzle around the pet’s mouth while you move your pet in the lift. You can remove the muzzle once your pet is out of the lift.
4. Try using the lift when no one is in there, alternatively avoid using the lift when someone (you know) having a canine/feline-phobia (i.e someone who is well-known to be scared of dogs/cats) is already travelling in the lift.
5. Make sure that your pet doesn’t pee or defecate in there, so avoid taking young untrained pups in the lift as else you would most likely end up creating a lot more disgruntled neighbours or should we say enemies!
6. Take care of the health and hygiene of your pet dog/animal, give it a nice bath regularly so that it doesn’t emanate any sort of stinking odour in a public place like a lift, which may else be a cause of inconvenience for the fellow residents of your building.
* Credits: We deeply thank AWBI’s lawyer Anjali Sharma, PAWS founder trustee Nilesh Bhanage and Vishruti Aggarwal for sharing their experiences, the video link and the consumer court judgement with us.
We learn much in life through our respective experiences, trials and errors and this article traces my experience while working with animal rescue groups on wildlife crime based investigative operations. We do understand that what I did was just one tiny drop in the ocean but atleast it was a single drop…and through this article we at ‘Jaagruti’ hope that many more of you who hope to crack the mystery behind nabbing wildlife criminals or the lack of it- will get a peep into the whole process and somewhere down the line be inspired to act to nab those who toy with our country’s much cherished natural heritage, thereby helping in minimising wildlife crime, which has the potential to wipe out India’s magnificent animals if left unchecked!
Nabbing wildlife criminals
All species of animals and products derived there from that find mention under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972 are considered to be protected under the legal system and the punishments for killing/possessing the same varies as per the degree of the crime committed and the schedule to which the animal belongs. And by law, all wild animals and products listed and protected under this act are considered a property of the Government of India and the responsibility to enforce this law rests entirely on the state wildlife departments (wildlife inspectors/forest officers). However, Section 50 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, also empowers “a Police official of the rank of a Sub-Inspector or above has the powers to search, seize and arrest”.
It is important to note that while undertaking a raid to nab wildlife criminals, one requires the help of the Police and/or the Forest/Wildlife department for the power to search a spot seize the animals and arrest the accused lies with these government officials; representatives of the NGO circuit, individual activists or the common man don’t have legal powers to do so, but there exist a number of ways in which individuals/NGOs and the government machinery can assist each other to nab wildlife criminals by utilizing their respective skills/resources and legal powers respectively.
Kinds of Wildlife criminals (and Investigations):
There are three levels of wildlife criminals operating in the city. The lowest rung is that of the roadside vendors which include bird-sellers, dog-sellers, pet-shops, snake charmers, madaris etc. Nabbing the people involved in the lower rung helps in reaching the mid-level gang that includes the wholesale-dealers, who retail the animals to these local pheri-wallahs. Catching these wholesale dealers leads us to the source, which includes the traders who are involved in capturing these animals from their wild habitat and the knowledge of the areas from where the animals are being captured and an idea about their trade routes.
Broadly, wildlife crime investigations in our country can be categorized into the following-
Those conducted by NGOs/activists/individuals in the cities which involve seizure of wildlife products like mongoose hair brushes, owl claws etc. or raid and rescue operations involving live wild animals exploited in cities by street entertainers like madaris and saperas-monkeys, bears and snakes or those animals held by pet shops, meat sellers, street vendors/part-time traders or the dubious tantriks. Such animals include birds like Pigeons, Parakeets, Munias, kites, peacocks and owls; reptiles like snakes, turtles and monitor lizards and; animals like mongoose and civet cats.
Raid/seizure of wildlife contrabands involving highly protected Schedule 1 animals like skins and claws of tigers, lions and leopards, rhino horns, Elephant ivory, Otter skin, Bear biles, Crocodile skins. Such investigations are more time consuming as well as life-threatening in nature since the investigators end up dealing with organised gangs of wildlife criminals that work across national and international boundaries. Such investigations involve a united effort on part of many agencies, the Wildlife Departments, Police, Crime Investigation agencies and the investigative/decoy support and intelligence provided by Wildlife NGOs.
How is an investigation and operation carried out?
The tip-off: Generally, various wildlife NGOs have an enforcement unit comprising of a Research team and a Field Raiding Team, consisting of a network of informers, decoys and field workers. Tip offs are generally received through the aware and sensitized individuals within the society or generated by the informers hired by the NGO’s Research Team. This system of informers employed by the NGOs is generally paid as per the authenticity and accuracy of the information provided by them.
Conducting a Reccee: To authenticate the information provided to the research team, normally decoys are used to validate the leads so obtained, however sometimes under time constraints for an on the move wildlife contraband or criminal, the luxury of conducting a recee can be least afforded!
The raid: The raiding team generally comprises of NGO resource persons accompanied by officials from the Police, Wildlife Department and or Wildlife Crime Control Bureau who are well acquainted with the laws.In addition to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, even the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 can be enforced upon under many cases.Knowledge of the laws, specific sections and penalties outlined within the act helps in registering a strong case and is crucial for putting the convict behind bars.
Once the raid conducted, the police prepare a seizure memo. The job of the raiding squad is to get the accused arrested, seize the animals and the police then presents the accused and the seized animals/products before the Metropolitan Magistrate in the local district Courts.
The accused is generally sent to 14 days of Judicial Custody (JC) by the Metropolitan Magistrate and the investigation of the case is subsequently handed over to the Wildlife Department.
More often than not, once the Wildlife Department is not represented by a lawyer after the JC period is over, the accused is released on bail. Hence, all the effort of nabbing a criminal goes to waste. Therefore, all that we require from the Wildlife Department is to convict the accused with the help of an efficient public prosecutor.
The (apathy of) State Wildlife Departments, the Police and the legal lacunae:
These departments often do not work to their full potential and the reasons for these are manifold for they neither have the infrastructure, nor the staff or the spirit to do this kind of investigative work.
In Delhi, for example, there are 5 Wildlife Inspectors that joined this department about two decades back and in all these years, they haven’t even been promoted once! When they joined they were Wildlife Inspectors and they remain so even now. In all these years, there are no new recruitments that have taken place either. As a result, there is no one to work under them or work with and naturally so, over all these years these inspectors also tend to lose out on the youthful energy they carried when they first joined these departments, hence it is natural to assume that the officials lack spirit and enterprise and suffer from demonization and frustration.
Coupled with it, is rampant corruption, lack of political will and the complete lack of infrastructure. These wildlife inspectors move on motorbikes and don’t even have a car and a driver at their disposal thus making it difficult for them to move the rescued animals or even take the accused for a Medical examination before presenting him in front of the district court magistrate as per the provisions of the law.
Also, The Wildlife Department and the Police are not armed with a team of animal handlers so they are generally apprehensive of carrying out wildlife crime seizures. Despite knowing that showing snakes to people on roadsides or selling birds is illegal, the authorities fail to nab street entertainers using animals as the whole thought of handling snakes, monkeys, bears and mongooses (after conducting the seizure) scares them off!
The Wildlife Departments don’t have the space to house rescued animals till their release orders are issued by the court. Zoos are most unwilling as they are already starved of space and cash. Also, the Wildlife Departments don’t have lock ups to house the arrested accused before being presented to the court and thus they have to turn to the Police for lock-up assistance which adds to the headache of the police stations as they get thrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that the accused doesn’t suffer health wise or die in their police custody
As Rajeev Jain, an animal activist associated with the Delhi chapter of NGO People for Animals shares below; there are many hurdles that prop up at different stages of a wildlife crime combating operation, mostly because the police and judges are not sensitized to animal welfare or aware of the laws and seriousness of the crime. “The judges in the district courts normally take pity on the bird sellers or a snake charmer we catch hold of in a city because they consider them to be poor people and thus give them the most meager punishment and accept their bail plea very easily. Lives of animals are not considered precious enough”, lamented Rajeev.
Also the Police authorities and wildlife officers are found wanting especially when it comes to handling, identifying and rehabilitating the live animals seized and it is here that the NGOs pitch in with their expertise. For example: NGOs pitch in with their knowledge of handling, health, habitat and feeding habits of the animals rescued along with providing temporary shade and shelter to the rescued animals. Often, many rescued animals die in the police station before being presented to the courts as the police officials are not provided with any budget to administer first aid or purchase the adequate feed/feeding bowls to help the stressed animals.
But all is not lost, gradually with growing awareness levels, the authorities are being increasingly and regularly forced to cooperate and extend support to individual activists and NGOs to nab wildlife criminals and it is up to individuals like you to acquaint yourself with the laws and the modus-operandi mentioned above so that you can assist as well as request the cooperation of enforcement authorities to take wildlife crime seriously. Only when more people take these issues up, will the authorities be on tender hooks and the government will be compelled to carry out the infrastructural and procedural improvements required to make the wildlife departments more effective and efficient.
Lastly, what is NOT Right?
Nilesh Bhanage of PAWS shares below his valuable insight on where exactly lies the problem with those people/NGO activists who consider themselves to be over and above the law and become overnight wildlife activists who go on to break every rule in the book in sheer exuberance, enthusiasm or most commonly for the sake of greed of money and media attention!
Most of the wildlife crime investigations in India happens out of heart & not with minds/ideas, careful planning or tricks and therein lies the only problem. Any animal lover starts posing as wildlife activist and starts doing raids is clearly wrong. They will not do work in a stepwise manner and risk getting into trouble and that is one of the reasons wildlife crime conviction rates in India are so low.When anyone conducts raids, they must provide photos, video CDs, veterinary treatment certificates, proofs, panchnama of seized material from criminals and even use supporting laws (i.e. using kids for wildlife trade is also punishable under child labor laws, using wildlife items for medicines comes under Food & Drug administration Act etc), so there are multiple factors that are involved.For Example: One girl posing animal activist goes to someone’s house & just pick-up their pet parakeet & squirrel which was hand-raised by someone. Then this girl goes & releases these animals and birds, confiscated by her back into wild, then in our eyes that girl herself is criminal under Indian Wildlife protection Act 1972 because she has flaunted the following following norms:
Making illegal/unauthorised entry into someone’s private house
Taking photos of gallery / bedroom
Rescuing wildlife without prior intimation/information being conveyed to forest/wildlife department and also without their permission.
Seizure of animals is also illegal as it can be done only by Police or Wildlife Department officials or honorary officers appointed by these two departments for this task.
Abandoning wildlife anywhere (which was never exposed to wild area as it was kept as pets) to die in name of rehab
Not doing any paper work for such seizure.
Stealing someones property like cages.
Remember, if we want to help animals or our wildlife, it is important that we follow the rules, for our safety and also for the health of the animal.
The above photograph was clicked and contributed to us by Kris Kumar on 5th July, 2010.
It was clicked at PVR Anupam-Saket, a multiplex in Delhi. In this small temple beneath a tree behind the multiplex where these two resident dogs with collars around their necks were sleeping peacefully, demonstrative of the relationship between GoD and DoG…
We often refer to each other as ‘crackpots’ but if we look carefully, each ‘cracked pot’ has its own advantages…
That is what the story below tries to convey. It was penned down by an anonymous author and contributed to this blog by Meera Ahmad, who further adds that terming oneself a crackpotis one of the sweetest ways to tell yourself that, “I’m UNIQUE!” , and that often our weaknesses can be our greatest strengths. Read on…
An Indian legend tells of a man who carried water to his village every day, in two large jars tied to the ends of a wooden pole, which he balanced on his back.
One of the jars was older than the other, and had some small cracks; every time the man covered the distance to his house, half of the water was lost.
For two years, the man made the same journey. The younger jar was always very proud of its performance, safe in the knowledge that it was up to the mission it had been made for, while the other jar was mortified with shame at only fulfilling half of its allotted task, even though it knew that those cracks were the result of many years hard work.
It was so ashamed that one day, while the man got ready to fetch water from the well, it decided to speak to him:
– I want to apologize, but because of the many years of service, you are only able to deliver half of my load, and quench half of the thirst which awaits you at your home.
The man smiled, and said:
– When we return, observe carefully the path.
And so it did. And the jar noticed that, on its side, many flowers and plants grew.
– See how nature is more lovely on your side? – commented the man. – I always knew you were cracked, and decided to make use of this fact. I planted flowers and vegetables, and you have always watered them. I have picked many roses to decorate my house with, I have fed my children with lettuce, cabbage and onions. If you were not as you are, how could I have done that?
Moral of the story:
“All of us, at some point, grow old and start to acquire other qualities. We can always make the most of each one of these new qualities and obtain a good result.”
Claudia Goroesman of Spain shares another important lesson from this beautiful story, she writes that-
The cracked jar shows “differences” in our society. The one who is “different”, or not like everyone else, is often not accepted. The story demonstrates how changing the way one looks at something, can even transform the difference in unexpected, and sometimes beautiful ways. Any difference can offer us an opportunity to grow, a potential that every human being has.
If we teach children about differences and capacities when they are very young, perhaps there would be fewer adults who discriminate against people who are “different” (for example those who like animals, birds or trees) and we would have a more just society, including adults who are more understanding and accepting of each others faults and shortcomings.
Janpath is one street market in that needs no introduction to anyone visiting Delhi, but perhaps the car park at Janpath Lane needs an introduction of some sorts.
Janpath Lane is perhaps the only lane in Central Delhi’s Connaught Place region which is not under NDMC’s (New Delhi Municipal Corporation) Parking Rates and Regimes for what we believe are reasons emanating out of a spirit of both, humanity and generosity. Because this lane, adjacent to the Janpath shopping centre on the lane opposite the famous Saravana Bhawan eatery is being manned for the past three decades by a team of five ‘deaf and dumb’ men…There are no parking tickets in here (neither manual nor computerised), no fixed parking rates either, you can give as much as your heart desires and the wallet allows.
In case there is a difficulty in communicating with a member of the public or a person who has parked their car in there, then these men are aided by a few fruit sellers sitting on the corners of the lane, who have, after all these years of sharing the same ‘place’ (or ‘street’) of work, learnt to communicate with these ‘differently-abled’ parking attendants in sign language
The man in the photograph above is the oldest member in this 5-member team of parking men. He has been here for 30 long years. He uses his hands to guide people to park their cars in and out of this lane and keeps a watchful eye on the cars he takes charge off, similarly with the rest. We learnt through the street shop vendor (selling shoes at the Janpath street market that begins next to this lane) that this old man has been able to educate his children and marry off his daughters into good homes all through the money he has earned at this car park with honesty and hard work in all these years. Try trusting him and his colleagues to take care of your car when you next head to good old Janpath for your season’s street shopping.
“Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you’re needed by someone.”- Martina Navratilova
Scott Hamilton once said, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”
So, lets ‘try’ to treat all beings, humans or animals, plants or insects, abled or dis-abled with respect if not love and care, for in this vicious circle termed ‘life’ what goes around does indeed come around.
Based on a tale from Hindu mythology, the epic Mahabharata, this is the story of Yudhisthira, a pious ‘Pandava’ king whose place in Heaven is determined by his love for a dog. This animated film has been made by Mr. Wolf Clifton
Photograph above: Three street dogs protecting a new-born baby abandoned in Kolkata on the evening of 23rd May, 1996. Below is an excerpt of a news report filed by Pinaki Mujumdar on the 25th May, 1996 edition of a Bengali daily, named ‘Aajkaal’ which carried the above hear-rendering photograph by Tapan Mukherjee.
This story was carried on the front page of this newspaper and did end up demonstrating the responsible ‘humane’ action of these three street dogs towards a human baby.
This is one of the best examples of sensitive journalism that was accompanied by sharp news sense.
A bright new born baby girl by the side of the dustbin. Sitting around her are three street mongrels. The same unchanging picture throughout the night. This unbelievable and inconceivable incident is not a scene from a screenplay. Nor is it the background to a story causing a sensation throughout the world. It is real-as unalloyedly real as light and air, life and death.This incident stretched at Hartokibagan Lane under Burtolla Police Station from the night of 23rd May, 1996 to 24th May, 1996 morning. Not just that, the three dogs followed like responsible guardians when some people of the locality rescued the new born baby girl and took her to the Burtolla Police Station. They had, unnoticed by all arrived at the door of the Officer-in-charge at Burtolla Police Station I.K Hossain as people were busy watching the baby, who had been put on the officer’s table, move her hands and feet. This scene did not elude the eyes of the policemen and the curious people present at the police station.
This report states that it was only around 2 pm on 24th May, 1996 , when the baby was put in a car to be taken to a f home for foundlings did these three street dogs walk back to their old neighbourhood, walkng slowly….
(Courtesy: Savage Humans and Stray Dogs, a book by Hiranmay Karlekar, Sage Publications 2008)
Its amazing how animals across different species can keep their differences aside and coexist so peacefully whereas homo-sapiens (humans) despite belonging to the same species find it so difficult to do the same!