In continuation to my previous post – Making It A Better Place – My Visit To An Animal Sanctuary – I felt it would only be apt to ask my school friend Rasika to talk about the issue of animal cruelty and what we can do about it, even if we are not actively participating in the cause.
As travellers, there is often lots of talk about volunteering opportunities whenever and wherever we travel. But what about when we are at home? Volunteering can begin right from your doorstep with ample opportunities for everyone to make a difference from the comfort of their homes.
Rasika has been the voice of those who cannot speak our language for the longest time. Her Facebook timeline has more animals and birds than humans. Her love for the “desi” breed of dog has no bounds.
She is an artist and feels passionate about all creatures. Her enthusiasm and anger towards the cause pour out from her words, but she never preaches. She made changes to her life, and in all the time I have known her, she hasn’t tried to dictate her beliefs on me or anyone else for that matter.
Most importantly, she gives us ideas, small and doable, that can make a whole lot of difference for the animals and birds that surround us.
Rasika has the following to say;
“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others; if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them” – Dalai Lama.
As an individual, we are brought up with a sense of responsibility towards our family, relatives and friends, and then our workspace. However, we feel a bit hesitant when it’s extended out of our immediate environment, the area of our influence.
When exposed to injustice in a situation outside and asked to help create a change, we often find people say “BUT what can I do? This is too big a problem for us.” and shift the focus.
One hears of such horrible cases of animal cruelty now, of physical abuse, beatings, murder, poisoning, torture, hit and runs. It’s enough to question if humanity still exists in these people to be able to carry out such heinous acts. These aren’t necessarily the poor and illiterate masses; they are also affluent people in big homes who participate in such actions.
The good news though is that WE ALL HOLD THE POWER TO INFLUENCE AND CHANGE THE WORLD.
Maybe not large geographical areas, but possibly just the region around our locality, our block, the just our lane. The ONLY thing we need to carry in our hearts is courage and willingness to make that difference.
It was with this exact attitude that I decided to bring a significant change in my life and influence those around me.
I have been brought up in an animal-loving family, and since I was a baby, I remember sharing my love, food and bed with a dog (who was like a younger sibling to me).
I have always loved and petted dogs, strays and pets alike. In fact, I have preferred them to people on many occasions! All the while, I was brought up on a steady diet of Non-veg food as it is a regular part of my cultural conditioning.
But it was over the last couple of years that I decided to look into the horrible practice of the meat industry that I could not sleep at night and decided to go cold turkey (pun intended) on my dietary habits.
We conveniently choose to differentiate between pets and “edible animals”, but the fact remains killing is killing. Would I eat my dog after she turned four years old and became a good healthy size to carve? Not getting into the whole debate of plants are alive too. You have to see ONE video of any butchery to know how wrong it is.
Once I was able to make this massive change in my own life, I decided to try and help animals as best as I could. I had an enormous list of challenges; a young child to handle alone while my husband keeps crazy work hours, didn’t have the bandwidth to join an NGO, didn’t have a job to sponsor animals from my income alone, couldn’t go sit at a police station to fight cases of animal cruelty that I saw.
Instead of giving up, I replaced the CAN’T DO into CAN DO!
So here is what I did;
- Put out lots of water bowls for birds, squirrels and dogs. Also, any extra food I have like rice/rotis/bread are fed to them besides the dog food I buy to feed my 6 “outside dogs”.
- Prevent children/ adults in parks and other public areas from ill-treating animals by explaining to them how and why a dog is scared or running or approaching them and keeping a firm yet calm tone so that the episode changes from a negative note to a positive one.
- Report animal cruelty to forums/people/agencies as and when I notice them.
- Keep handy helpline numbers for cows/dogs/neelgai/cats/monkeys/birds that may have been injured in an accident and make sure to report them.
- Ask my family, friends and acquaintances to donate money/food/vaccines to people who have hearts large enough to run NGOs. You’ll be surprised how much a bag of rice or a donation of even 1000/- can help at the right time.
- Helping people adopt dogs, educate them about the positives and challenges of various breeds, before letting them approach any breeder to BUY a pup.
- Get the dogs in my lane sterilised so that the population is controlled in my immediate environment.
- Give those dogs on the spot treatment for any sickness/rashes they may have.
- Carry a water bowl and bottle and some biscuits in my car in case I see any dehydrated animal or bird and leave it there for them to drink, even if I don’t want to handle the animal.
These few simple things have given me a lot of emotional satisfaction, and although I may not have changed the whole world, I have changed the world for a few dogs and birds who live around my house.
I urge you to please do the same. Become an influencer. Influence those around you with definite ideas to pass the buck forward.
Do a good deed today for a helpless animal who can do nothing back for you other than give you love and loyalty.
There are a lot of karmic benefits whether you believe or not in sending positive energy into your environment and doing such deeds.
“If having a soul means being able to feel love, gratitude and loyalty, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.” – James Herriot.
All photos were taken at the All Creatures Great and Small Animal Sanctuary. You can visit their website through the link to find out about all the wonderful measures they are taking to support animals.
I turned vegetarian out of choice twelve years ago for similar reasons that when I’m not an animal person at all. Yet I do understand kindness and the need to sterilise/feed strays.