Southern Kerala was hit by a disastrous flood in August, 2018. Millions of people across the whole state were compelled to move out to take shelter in other states and nearby refugee camps. The death count due to natural calamity was very high. Every local person who was stuck in the floods were praying for getting some help from the rescue operations and military helicopters. The newspapers and the television news channels were focused on describing the condition of people living in camps, getting food to eat after 2-3 days, reuniting with their families and the horrifying scenes of chaos created everywhere.
Amid such circumstances, where the rescue teams, television, print media, social media and everyone else focused just on the loss of human lives and property, a rescue team of around 10-15 people did something which is worth reading. The team contained a group of professional vets and rescuers. They carried trucks full of animal food and essential medicines. They were not there for looking after the affected people but the affected animals, one thing which previously nobody even thought of. The rescuers went to hunt for every animal be it pet or stray who were trapped amidst the ravaged cities. They sheltered number of dogs, cats, goats and cows. They medicated and treated the ones who were in need. The animals were precisely starving for days and there was no one to look after them. While some of them were sheltered in their camps, the others were relocated to higher grounds and safer areas. The count of the animals who were liberated reached to millions. The team received calls from pet owners who were not able to take their pets with them. The teams posted pictures and details of the strays rescued on social media to open the adoption process by providing helpline numbers. It was a successful operation carried out by a bunch of compassionate people.
In another instance, hundreds of stray animals became the victim of a construction project. In February 2019, around twenty villages in Navi Mumbai were to be evacuated for a construction project to be undertaken. All the residents of the villages were depopulated and were given shelter at an alternative place. One thing which was not taken care of by the concerned authority, were the animals who lost their homes in between the course. They already have the tag of ‘stray’ which implied that they were living on the roadsides, footpaths and tree sheds. The homeless animals lost their territories. The incident attracted the attention of an animal activist, Teli. She analyzed the misery of those animals and apprehended that she need a team to help the animals find a new area to live.
Around 450 dogs and cats were drifted because of the ongoing construction. Teli headed the team and divided them into groups for each village. The condition of the animals were tragic. They were starving and droughty and were happily willing to die rather than bearing such pain. The team provided packaged food and medicines to the animals. Within four months of the operation, they shifted around seventy animals from that area to a different and safer place. The monsoon season worsened the conditions of the animals. They were drowning and were desperately wanting a shed to save themselves. Some of the animals died under the mud and construction ruins.
The activists appealed to the city and industrial development corporation for providing a land to accommodate the suffered animals. Unfortunately, the land provided was already taken by cows. Till November 2019, they were almost successful in their job by rescuing and shifting more than ninety percent of the animals. They also appealed for adoption to the public and received an adequate response. As of last report, in December 2019, only 20-22 dogs were left to be sheltered.
“There are always two sides to everything. Where there is bad, there is also good.” ~ Jessica Brody
The above two occurrences depict a perfect example of the saying. The previous chapter describes a dark side of the lives of stray animals. But there has to be a bright side somewhere existing in their lives which needs to be explored and made known to the people.
In a world, where there are people who kill, assault, murder and torture stray animals, there are some more people in the same world who have the utmost desire to protect and empower the lives of these animals.
India has always attracted millions of stray animals in the process of its progress. The count of stray dogs and cats have nearly doubled in the last two decades. There are more homeless dogs and cats wandering in nearly every street than any number of homeless people residing on footpaths. The human beings are capable of turning the fate of their lives. Many of them are born poor but it depends on them whether they die poor or prosperous. Many of them are born on roads but it depends on them what they choose to die, road or a refuge. It’s a human world, everything operates on the terms of human population. So is the life of animals.
Humans have invariably played a significant role in molding the lives of their companions, the animals. Some people proved as a boon while the others proved as a bane. One thing that is to be very obvious is that the count of people turning as a boon have evolved to a respectful number with evolving India. Many elements have contributed in India moving towards an animal loving country.
Education becoming the major contributor to the process. Education forms the base to every aspect. It results in complete development of an individual in terms of knowledge, morals, ethics and values. There is not a single way which helps in making the society compassionate towards animals.
Firstly, the knowledge of several things provides a better and deep understanding of the animals. The most basic knowledge being the answer to the question ‘who are animals?’ previously, it was only the topics such as human anatomy and the function of each organ which were studied. Medical sciences were only limited to people aiming to become cardiologists, dentists and other specialists. But later in the 21st century, after realizing the role of education in imparting a perspective in the mind of individuals about someone or something, there has been a greater emphasis on education about animals.
The knowledge at the primary level explains the functioning, abilities, talents, usefulness and skills of animals. More and more educational institutes try to foster a soft spot and love for the fellow animals. More activists and socially aware people conduct education campaigns to enlighten the sorrows of animals. At higher grounds, many researches and studies are directed towards gaining a greater amount of information of animals. Medical sciences are expanded to having splendid opportunities of becoming professional vets and animal doctors. It is very necessary to impart the basic knowledge right from the school level. India has been very successful in including the informative lessons on animals from elementary to senior classes.
Apart from knowledge, the second thing which education emphasizes at is, moral values. Moral values are standards and ethics which enable an individual to differentiate between what is wrong and what is right. The families and communities are the biggest source of spreading moral values in a human being. In the modern era, India is attempting to provide its citizens with morals through education. It is very crucial for a person to have sufficient moral values. It gives the means to an individual to stand for what is right and stand against what is wrong. A person with morals will never stand and witness an animal being tortured and slaughtered. He understands that treating any living creature on this earth be it a fellow human or stray in a brutal way is wrong. And what is wrong should be stopped. Not just knowledge, the morals are also being taught widely in every region of India to make the community tender hearted and empathetic towards stray animals.
As a result of better education, many students are now seen raising their voices against the violence against animals. It has helped humans respect, love and care for creatures other than their friends and family. The level of education has risen to a significant level in India. More importantly, the level of education regarding animal issues have grown in the last few decades.
Another element which has bestowed this country with animal lovers is, internet. Everyone is well aware of the advantages and the importance of internet. It is one of the best gift, the people of this century can get. The worldwide use of internet has made it so recognized that even an infant of two years and an aged person of eighty years use it somewhere or the other.
Internet has enabled the people of this country express and share their opinions and views with the others. It significantly helps in enlightening individuals with animal facts, issues and rights. Internet is one more source of getting education other than learning it from schools, colleges and books. There is tons of information available on different search engine. You can find anything related to stray animals on internet.
There are social media sites such as Facebook, instagram, twitter and what’s app. Apart from connecting people of different countries together, it also lets people post videos, photos and information on different topics. Internet helps in various ways for the good of animals.
The social media sites helps create awareness for the cruelty against animals. It helps the people direct a thought in favor of animals. There are many cases which describes brutality towards stray animals. These cases are needed to be brought into limelight to bring justice to the victims. Socially aware people make a very smart use of their internet knowledge. Social media enables people for open discussions and decisions.
An aware society is an awake and alert society. Every hour, multiple cases of animal cruelty happen around the world. Half of them, not reported and the other half are buried under some other cases regarded as more important. Internet helps people file petitions, stand for the right and understand the importance of being right. There was a case before 2014 depicting the same. Everyone knows how stray animals are used for cosmetic and drug testing. A petition invitation by Humane Society India was asked to be signed by all those people who were against such inhuman act. More than 70,000 people came at front and signed the petition forcing the authorities to ban the import of animal tested cosmetic products in India. Such petitions give a platform to the whole world to unite and stand against or for a cause.
Famous influencers and celebs also try to spread awareness by passing the information to their millions of followers in few seconds. It is very beneficial for mass reaching.
Recently, there has been a developing trend of creating pages in support of issue. There are many online pages supporting the cause of stray animals through which people register themselves as animal lovers. Such pages do not have a physical presence but their online presence sometimes works wonders for animals. They even have the option of contact in case of anyone who witness torturing stray animals. There are Google forums and Facebook forums which can be filled to reach a larger population and form communities to rescue, feed and shelter animals.
A single person can share its views and find people appreciating or criticizing it. You don’t have to run a NGO or animal supporting institution to lend a helping hand to the voiceless creatures. A post or a video is enough to create the awareness the society needs once it gets viral. There are several cases which depict how India, with the help of internet is bringing aid to the needy animals.
In Chennai, a puppy was thrown from terrace by students of a medical college. The video of the incident went viral in just few hours after the incident took place. The video was shared, reposted, liked and commented by thousands of people. The puppy was soon found alive and treated immediately. The dog was named Bhadra and an animal activist took her to Vepery Medical College and attended her. Also, the culprits were suspended from the college and were arrested for their disgraceful deed after an FIR filed by the same activist. There was a similar action taken when the videos of a dog being stabbed outside a metro station in Delhi and the brutal burning of three puppies in Hyderabad took place.
The list is never ending. To list a few more, the use of hashtags is also becoming another rapidly mushrooming trend all over internet. All of internet, hashtags supporting animals such as #animallove, #standforstrays and millions more flood the internet every day to make them trending and connect to like-minded people.
The adoption process has been made much easier through internet. There are multiple websites and pages which post pictures of homeless animals everyday who need care and shelter. They also help pet owners trace and find their lost dogs and other pets. Such communities also help the activists and rescuers who run rescue campaigns by appealing people for donations to adopt pets who are rescued by them and needs fostering instead of paying and buying from the pet shops. They create a room for the people who want to contribute their part to such rescue operations to join them as vets or by providing necessities such as medicines, shelters and financial aid.
A two year cat named Louis who was blind needed a human family to be taken care of. The humane society international, blue cross of Hyderabad and other welfare communities came forward in support for the cat. After persistent efforts for a month, Louis found a very benevolent family who brought her as an addition to the new family member.
Internet is not a sole source of spreading public awareness. The development of print and press media has also been a saviour for the stray animals. The major help by print and press media comes in terms of throwing limelight to the sufferings faced or by encouraging people to lend a helping hand to the animals. The daily newspapers are now increasingly including articles about animal cruelty cases which previously were taken no heed of. News channels and radios must also be counted in strive to evolve India and bring out the best of it.
The freedom to express given to the citizens of democratic India gives the individuals the right to stand and express their anguish or appreciation for any issue. In November 2019, Mumbaikars used this right to display their stance against animal cruelty. Around 400 people went on roads dressed in animal costumes to draw the attention towards animal rights and discouraging the brutal killing of animals for human consumption. The crowd protested in all force at places like Bandra and Carter road with posters appealing people go vegan and be compassionate towards animals. The protest gained nationwide attention and more than 5000 people, all over India stood for the same. The huge crowd at the protests serves as a true evidence to the growing concern of people towards animals.
Pet owners are ready to spend a decent amount of their income on their pets. This is because they grow the feeling of love towards their pets. But in an era, where most of the people treat strays as burden, only a handful people show interest in losing money on them. However, there are some financially able individuals who run free medical check-ups and treat stray animals. Such people mostly run campaigns and try to involve as many volunteers as they can to reach highest number of stray animals. They also provide anti- rabies vaccines to the dogs to eliminate the hazard of rabies, the reason why most people show hatred towards stray dogs. They are accompanied by groups who can provide free food to save the starving animals.
One such campaign was conducted in Bhubaneswar in April, 2018. Activists from different parts of the city were accompanied by volunteers to feed street dogs. They went to places like old town, Bapuji nagar, Unit-I, Saheed nagar, Acharya Vihar, Nayapalli and many more with animal food packets and served the needy. Not only dogs, they also fed some cats and cows. The same group also ran an adoption campaign, a year before, which gained widespread response.
Different groups and individuals are coming forward with different resource and different ways to raise the issue of strays to give it a height where it would be impossible for the authorities and people to act oblivious. Those who have the thought are creating awareness through rallies, protests, internet, newspapers and television. Those who have power are trying to make improvements in the laws and give judicial recognition. Those who have love and time are adopting the strays to give them a new life. Those who have money are giving direct aid to the strays by giving them food and shelter. Those who have knowledge are using their skills and education to treat, medicate and vaccinate the stray animals. Those who have fame use it to influence their followers to bring about a positive change to the world.
The phase of internet and media has bloomed immensely in past few years. The scenario was not the same some years back. The definition of ‘evolving’ does not have a single meaning. One of the meaning involves the evolving behavior of people towards animals. The realization of people that the other living entities are no less than human beings. They have the right to enjoy and live the life that has been to given to them and helping for the betterment of lives of those who cannot help themselves is what is described as ‘humanity’.
Education and internet together has imbibed the sense of morality and humanity in human beings. The struggle is still not over. There is still a lot more which needs to be done. The inhumane acts towards animals have reduced at a considerable amount. But they have also increased in the name of increasing desire to fetch highest profits, cultures, selfishness and many more. When on one side there are activists and donors who are working day and night to improve the condition of animals, on the other side there are people who think that humans are the sole owners of this planet and consider animals as a burden.
These were just some percent of the campaigns, rescue operations, medical care checkups, protests, viral photos, posts, and videos. Hundreds of similar cases can be discussed becoming a reason to be proud of.
The feeling of feeding an animal is fulfilling. It justifies the reason why humans were made so. A man’s behavior should be judged by how he engages himself into such dearly deeds and not on the basis of his power, money and fame. The chapter, therefore, ends on an optimistic note building hope in the minds of readers that India, surely is, evolving.