ByÂ Anwesha Dhar:
Every day I enter my university to be dragged into a mad rush of people, each in their own race against time. And then every day, I see Baga sitting lazily enjoying everyone’s attention and bathing in the sun. Baga is one of the many dogs on my campus.
I have always been extremely fond of animals. This is the reason why the apparent lack of care for the many animals in our country gives me shudders. When I was about twelve, I had witnessed the hit and run accident of a dog and heard its helpless whimpering. I had also been shocked by the unwillingness of absolutely everyone present on the street, including my own grandmother. From that day, I have wanted to do something, anything. So when I entered college and realised my university, especially my department, is extremely active when it came to sheltering and rescuing animals, I was delighted beyond measure. Here there were, professors and students alike, happily rescuing puppies and feeding dogs which would otherwise be called off as ‘dirty’ and ‘disease mongers.’
Then I realised that my university was not all that singular, there were many other communities, small and big, which worked towards ameliorating the condition of street dogs or cats. They actively campaign through mediums like Facebook and sensitise people towards the cause of sheltering animals. Pages like ‘Save the Helpless Animals of Mumbai’ simply posts pictures of injured or deserted animals it finds on the streets and posts it on FB. Within 10 minutes, it gets several requests for adoption. These animals are vaccinated and taken care of by generous donations of many across the country.
In fact, working for these little furry creatures does not even require a separate organisation or page, I have seen many individuals who simply take care of animals they spot on the street or take them to the vet. Recently when I went to Goa, a friend of mine spotted an abandoned Alsatian, not even the so-called ‘stray dog’ we spot on streets, left probably because of some skin disease by its master. My friend petted him, talked to him and sat with him for several hours and soon they became very good friends. The investment here is so little, indeed. The community in my university runs entirely by the willing participation of the students, who take full charge of feeding, vaccinating and taking care of these animals. The funds are often raised by generous donations but mostly by arranging for fundraisers like bake sale, which is again, completely organised by the students. They do not do it for some certificate or ‘social credits’ they are offered by the university. Nor do they do it to invoke some feeling of altruism among anyone. They do it because of a powerful emotion called empathy which they feel for these creatures. They realise that these creatures are full of love and they deserve every bit of attention or care we can offer to them. The reason they choose to volunteer is very simple and the most basic motive behind volunteerism in general-because they feel good doing it. Their only investment, perhaps, is a rupees three worth of biscuit packet every day. In return what they get are warm cuddles and unconditional love, two things which remain absolutely priceless in this world.