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Championing the rights of the four-legged

Far from the world of human beings exists a world strikingly different in its ways, appearance, and essence. The inhabitants of this fascinating yet misunderstood world are known for their instinct and perceptiveness. They are guileless and pure for animals don’t know any other way to be.

On the other hand, there is the known, complex world of humans. Theirs is a world that runs on intellect, judgement, and reason. And yet, they are driven by emotions. It is this ability to empathise and feel compassion that distinguishes humans from animals, yet connects the two.

The bond between humans and animals has withstood the test of time. Together they have mastered the art of coexistence. However, at a time when their interdependence is at its peak, this coexistence is challenged. Animals are constantly let down by humans. Those in charge of protecting them are the ones hurting them. Man’s age-old companion is at great risk, leaving us wondering where lies the solution.

The solution, we are told, lies in one individual striving to undo the unkind acts of another. In an increasingly inhumane world, if there are those who bring tears on, there are also those who wipe them; if there are those who cause wounds, there are also those who heal them. And then, there are those who commit themselves to fighting for the rights of these guileless beings who don’t even know they have rights.

To understand and appreciate what it takes to save these voiceless creatures, Soulveda speaks to animal rights activists and rescuers who talk about their inspiration and commitment to create a safer, happier world for the most undemanding of all beings.

  • Tony Freer, Founder, Haven Animal Welfare Trust

    Since my childhood days I had a special fondness for animals. Every time I came across an injured or abused animal, I wanted to help. Unfortunately, there weren’t many rescue centres for street animals back then. This shortfall inspired me to set up my own welfare trust that can provide a safe haven for abandoned animals. Every individual can help in protecting animals. All it takes is one small, steady step to bring a lasting change. In the past few years, I have seen a great surge in the number of rescuers and NGOs, striving to keep animals away from danger. Many people are stepping out of their comfort zones to help animals. As a community, we should conduct animal welfare workshops on a regular basis. Residents living in an apartment complex should host animal welfare camps that can educate children as well as adults on animal cruelty.
  • Sudha Narayanan, Founder, Charlie’s Animal Rescue Centre

    Every animal on the street has a different story of abuse. Each of them needs to be understood, respected and loved. Perhaps, due to fast-paced lifestyle, people don’t have the time to pay attention to the plight of stray animals. The truth is, we are all born animal-friendly and we are taught to fear, hate or ignore animals. Awareness workshops and events should be organised in schools, so children develop a healthy attitude towards animals. The good thing about metropolitan cities is that besides the ever-expanding urban sprawl, there is also an ever-expanding community of animal lovers and rescuers. You need only reach out to get help and guidance. With more shelters, responsible rescuers, and compassionate individuals, we can make our cities more animal-friendly.
  • Chinthana Gopinath,  Founder trustee, Freagles of India

    As the concrete jungle expands, the world of animals is rapidly shrinking. Rather than leaving it to the NGOs, every individual can pitch in by taking responsibility of the animals in their immediate surroundings. This doesn’t take a lot of effort. Leave a bowl of water on your terrace for birds, use excess food bits to feed stray animals. When you come across an injured animal, reach out to one of the countless organisations that devote themselves to the cause. In case of street dogs, by being friendly to them and gaining their trust, we can get them sterilised and thereby curb the stray population. When stray animals are well fed and sterilised, they are less likely to have behavioural problems. If everyone becomes conscious of the fact that the world is home to all kinds of species and not just humans, we can improve the lives of animals around us.
  • Sanjana Madappa, Animal rights activist, CUPA

    As individuals working towards animal welfare, we are trying to create awareness about dog breeding laws in the country. Most of the dogs in the shelter are from puppy mills, where mothers and their puppies are kept in a very poor state. I think information needs to be given so that people can take informed decision. At least on humanitarian grounds, we should not be buying puppies from such places. We are striving to bring about a change where people adopt instead of buying.
  • Lopa Saikia, Animal welfare worker

    There are people who are fond of animals and then there are those who are scared of them. What we can do to achieve the goal of coexistence is educate people on animal rights. If each of us educates one person, then it can have a ripple effect. What is refreshing is there are individuals who are working and opening their homes to fostering. Having said this, I still agree that there is a huge gap. Educating the masses through volunteering, and raising funds are two very important things to do. Creating awareness through mediums like newspaper would be a great idea.
  • Girish Anjanappa, Animal rescuer

    There was a grievously injured dog in a locality I visited. It was a hot day, and the dog wanted to rest indoors. No matter where he went—cafes, shops, and restaurants—no one would let him in because he had maggots. That was it; that was a turning point for me. I took the dog to a vet and got it treated and have been rescuing animals ever since. There are many animal rescuers like me. But we can’t change people, especially their hatred towards stray animals. They have been conditioned over the years. What we can do is increase awareness amongst everyone, especially children, as they are more compassionate. So, if we can teach them to be kind to all animals, it can make a huge difference in the long run.

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