National Animal Rights Day: Four Mumbaikars dedicate lives to caring for stray dogs
On the eve of National Animal Rights Day, meet four Mumbaikars who have dedicated their lives to caring for the cityÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂs furry residents
The mom of all strays Christina Lobo's (in pic, left) foray into animal care began years ago in Kuwait (her birthplace), where she would help her father rescue desert dogs and build oases. Today, Lobo, 38, is the co-founder of Mumbai Animal Association (MAA, founded in 2017), which works in animal rescue and care through a centralised helpline in North Mumbai. "I came back to India in 2006. Initially, I was working independently. Then, people who noticed my work joined in. I had spent 11 years on road and was tired," she shares. "We have a good network of feeders, so if we come across cases of abandonment, we usually place them in a feeding group, while focussing on finding handicapped animals a home, as they need it more," she adds, the fervour in her voice offering a peek into the passion with which she approaches her work.
Call 8655370005; 8080080255
Log on to Mumbai Animal Association Facebook page
Jayesh Shah treats strays at his clinic at Masjid Bunder. Pic/Bipin Kokate
The laconic summarisation of his work is more a window into Jayesh Shah's humility than a note on a casual attitude. Because that he cares is evident not only in him opening up an extra space in his house to accommodate a fully functioning veterinarian hospital but also in his quiet acceptance of the massive financial responsibility he shoulders all alone. Otherwise a businessman, Shah, 52, founded HELP Animals and Birds in 2016. The hospital and association, located in Masjid Bunder, provides free medical care to all strays, promotes spaying and neutering to stop the senseless killing of animals, and creates social awareness about animal welfare in general. "I was never into animals. Then, in 2013, a bitch littered two puppies near my godown. We thought we'll provide them with shelter for a while and then they'll leave, but they stayed on and that's how I got the idea of turning the godown into a dispensary," Shah tell us. "I spend quite a bit on running this place and by and large, pay out of my own pocket. It's a huge liability but I got into it wholly aware of the fact that loss is a part of this deal," he accepts.
At 11 Asok House, Dana Bandar, Masjid Bunder East.
Call 92233 33338
Volunteers of Awaaz treat a stray dog in Andheri East. Pic/Suresh Karkera
Voice of the furries
Amit Pathak (in pic, right), 32, the founder of Awaaz — Voice of Stray Animals, recalls his initiation into animal rescue work when a neighbour once called him for help about an injured puppy. "I was 19 then and I didn't know what to do. So I reached out to NGOs, but the puppy died after three days. That really upset me and I began to gather information on animal NGOs," shares Pathak. He then volunteered with some of them and gained more experience in the field to found the emergency rescue service in 2017. "After working for 13 years, I decided to have my own organisation because I wanted to work in a more structured manner. We have a helpline number, an ambulance and two staff members who supervise the rescue missions. I am planning to extend the service," he adds. "In a city like Mumbai, where space is such an issue, there are very few shelters that are fully equipped. Again, it's very difficult to reach out for medical aid post 11 pm, especially in cases of emergencies. So, hospitalisation is a big impediment," he signs off.
Log on to Awaaz — Voice of Stray Animals Facebook page
Yogesh Shinde, ambulance driver for animals. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Foster care on wheels
For Yogesh Shinde, 25, racing ailing animals to the safety net of a hospital began at the age of 17. Following in the steps of his father and uncle, and after having worked for a year as factory maintenance staff, Shinde decided to have his own ambulance — Pushpak Pet Animal Ambulance. That was seven years ago. Today, Shinde is hailed as "foster care on wheels" since, those who have availed of his services say, he's much more than just an ambulance driver. Available at all times, including late into the night, Shinde is forthcoming, responsible and most importantly, gentle with animals. Over and above ferrying them, the good Samaritan even waits for reports and coordinates and updates owners and caregivers who might be caught up at work. "I like doing what I do because it gives me satisfaction. I could be a normal driver like others, but most of them complain about the smell and dirt while I don't have a problem with that. It's a good way to make use of my day, plus I get to help save lives," Shinde explains humbly.
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