The term Animal Lover is one that is often used by many of us in our day to day life. In general, we relate an animal lover to someone who is caring, loving, and devotes his/her time selflessly to the cause of animals. But many a times the cause is forgotten, neglected or takes a back seat and we find people making profits, money in the name of animal welfare…it may shock you but it’s the deep truth.
In my experiences in the animal field, I have come across number of people who claim to be an Animal Lovers yet when they visit an animal shelter they will stand and stare aghast at the sight of a maggot infected animal, or a sick dog with mange etc…and I have actually seen these so called animal lovers covering up their faces and noses with their dupattas or kerchiefs-why because they can’t take the smell coming out from these poor animals. They have never petted a stray animal, said a kind word to the animal, or fed a sick animal- if you still think and feel they are animal lovers-then my friends you are mistaken.
I have been lucky in my life to have met and encountered some genuine animal lovers who have made a difference in my way of looking and caring for animals and left their imprints deep in my heart and will always have a place of respect & love in my heart.
To begin with, Mr. & Mrs. Dady a Parsi brother and sister couple in Pune, I still remember the day I was passing by SPCA Pune and could hear dogs barking and that led me into their premises where I met this wonderful couple who changed my life. The first sight which touched me and brought tears to my eyes was the sight of Mr. Dady gently and lovingly removing maggots for the head of a stray mangy dog with his own hands and a tweezers and speaking lovingly to the animal. The trust and confidence in the dog’s eyes is something one has to experience, he knew he was in caring and loving hands while he rests his weary head on Mr. Dady’s lap.
Together, we were able to cure, heal, and save many animals we thought may not survive, I still remember the nights we have stayed beside the animal and being there in its last moments…In the other room I met his sister who was preparing the evening meal for the animal and was surrounded by puppies and kittens vying for the milk, bread and egg.
It was a matter of minutes that I decided to come and volunteer with them at SPCA Pune and my 3 years there are a volunteer and later as Shelter Manager was something unforgettable.
I learnt a lot from this couple and with their guidance and love healed many dogs and cats, treated their wounds with my hands, applied medicine. fed them, carried them when they were too weak and at times did the most difficult thing –yes put the terminal cases to sleep. It was heartbreaking to see he trustful eyes and head resting on your lap while you prepared the lethal injection, sometimes I could read their eyes and expression-which said why me??? And at times a quiet thank you for releasing them from the pain and suffering.
I wish I could have saved them but sometimes we can only do our best. Mr. & Mrs. Dady taught me love, giving, caring for animals and working selflessly for the cause of animal welfare..They were my guiding stars in my early years in animal welfare …Thank you for introducing me to the wonderful world of animals.
Another lady who influenced me a lot was Mrs. Lazarus from SPCA Pune, she must have been in her 60’s then but what a lady- her face was always smiling, ready to welcome any animal into the shelter and into her life…she spent her entire life in SPCA and lived in a small dingy one room attached to the
shelter filled with sick dogs, cats, puppies, kittens whom she cared for regardless of the fact that she could barely sustain herself. Her selfless attitude moved me so much when I saw her feeding the animals first irrespective of the fact that she
had been without food for days and living on just tea and biscuits. We shared many a moments in her room and through her I learnt the important lesson of giving without expecting anything in return. The last image I have of her is seeing her walking to her room followed by dogs and cats, she always had a gentle word for everyone and if there is a real genuine animal person it’s her. The sad fact though is that these unsung heroes in the animal world went away without anyone realizing it and were never acknowledged, awarded or rewarded for their passion and work, not that they expected it-no never-each and every donation which came their way was used for the animals, medicines and food, they never misused the donations for their benefit…that’s the beauty of them and that’s what makes them Genuine Animal Lovers. You don’t have to brag about the work you have done, how much you have contributed to the animal cause or who you are- What is more important is the silent, devoted, selfless, caring work you have done cause you believed in it and that was what gave you happiness, satisfaction and made you a true human being.
I wish there were more people like them in today’s world.Some others I can recall are –Mrs.Parulekar who ran an animal centre at her home in Queens road Pune, Zarine Patel a lady whose world was surrounded with animals till the end, she worked selflessly for their cause in Pune, I can still recall her 7 Great Danes and the week I spent looking after them what a joy they were,,Crystal Rogers of CUPA who I had the opportunity to meet and interact with – a truly compassionate lady, Sunita Shastri –ex director of Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre-New Delhi for whom animals interest came first and foremost, Amritika Phool who runs an animal shelter in Defense Colony Delhi who is always on hand 24×7 and her house is like a mini zoo filled with puppies and kittens abandoned by people and left to die in roads, she gives them shelter and helps in their adoption and she herself houses 5 wonderful dogs and cats all rescued. She does all this without any donations or aids-remarkable lady indeed.
Some other silent animal crusaders who I have known and learnt from are Fiza Shah of IDA Mumbai, Sudyna and Vivienne from IDA dedicated animal workers, Nilesh from Paws, Geeta Seshamani Friendicoes with whom I was lucky to work…and ofcourse to all my animal friends all over the world who connect with me daily on Face Book and whats app .. thank you for being my support and inspiration …
These are the people I salute to today, they are the real heroes in the animal world and I am thankful and glad I was able to interact with them and have learnt so much from them and through them. Whatever I am today, I owe it to them and last but not the least to my mom-who shares the same love and
compassion for animals who has been my partner in rescuing puppies and kittens from overflowing drains in rains in Delhi, taking in stray puppies and looking after them…
I am so enriched today with all the knowledge, love and teaching I have got from these wonderful people of the animal
world…..God Bless You All and may you continue to shine in this field.