By Amritika Phool:
I have been taking care of animals since I was 18. But it was only after coming to India (I was born in Bangkok) and seeing the plight of street animals that I decided to do more. I started small by just looking after the animals around my residence.
Then, about five years ago, I came across a lady who brought in three kittens to an NGO in Delhi. Their mother had died after someone had thrown boiling water at her! The lady who rescued them needed someone who could regularly check on the kittens as she couldn’t bring them in daily, for check-ups.
This made me realise that there must be many people in the city who wanted to help animals but were struggling to do it alone, or who witnessed animal cruelty but didn’t know what to do to stop it. And that’s when I decided to do something that could connect such people.
I started the Indian Animal Forum, a platform to help those who reach out to help injured or abandoned animals, and also create awareness about animals and the issues they face. So, through a simple group on a social media platform, we created a network of people who would be able to provide almost immediate help, anywhere in the country, and also help animals find safe and loving homes. The Forum started with only five members from Delhi, and now, we are a 23,000 member strong team, spread across India, and even in some parts of the world!
Apart from helping animals in distress, educating others about animal laws and empowering people to stand up for the rights of animals, more and more people are getting out there and helping animals on the streets.
In fact, thanks to such active participation from our network, we have been able to save animals in remote areas where there was no vet. I remember, once, we saved a dying cat through advice we received from vets on the forum. Another time, we helped out a woman with her three dogs when she was contemplating suicide. The active participation of volunteers in reporting animal abuse also prevented three camels from being illegally slaughtered.
There are many laws in place that protect animals from such abuse, but the problem lies in enforcing them. Fines and punishments for animal cruelty need to be looked at more seriously. People’s prejudices against animals also don’t help in changing this. Sadly, we noticed that this intolerance towards animals, believing that they have no feelings, is seen more in bigger towns and cities. Yes, we often see people in villages helping out animals a lot more.
Animals are pretty thankful creatures and a little kindness towards them goes a long way. What they need is simple care, and anyone and everyone can do it. Feed them, put out water bowls for them and get them sterilised. Even if you are not part of a forum or an animal care group, a small gesture of kindness could bring a big change in an animal’s life. That change can be brought about by you, too.