By Aditya Kiran Nag

Human civilization has been in existence for the last eight thousand years and in these long eight thousand years we have gone from hunters and gatherers to constructors of huge cities and metropolises. All of this was possible only because we invented the wheel and more importantly we learnt the art of domesticating animals. From hens used in cock fighting to elephants used for labour and warfare Oh! wait who can forget man’s best friend Le Doggo. We swear by thousands of Doggo memes running around on the internet. Humans over time have learnt and implemented domestication. But have we learnt compassion for them? There has been a recent spate of incidents of whose videos and photos one can find all over the internet of animals being illtreated, from a dog being thrown from a building to a monkey being mutilated by medical students. Unlike the cute doggo memes that do around the internet the reality is completely different. People have become indifferent to animal well being. For us an animal is either a tool or a show piece an item to amuse and display at our households, farms or in some cases even in places of worship.

Fighting against these odds is a Bhubaneswar based animal rescue NGO called Speak For Animals which is doing its bit to make lives of animals safer, healthier and better. Formed in 2016 by Kusal Biswas, Rajesh Mahapatra and Subhrojyoti Behera ‘Speak For Animals’ has helped rescue, vaccinate and nurse hundreds of animals back to health in and around Bhubaneswar and we would like to mention that they do all of this without any financial aid . Yes dear readers they conduct their operations, rescues and vaccinations purely on their own or through a few volunteers.

“It’s a difficult task when we treat an animal. Especially strays like dogs. People harass us, taunt us and in some cases even mortally threaten us to leave the animal and go away. But what people fail to understand is that animals also have feelings and emotions and they are often subjected to extreme cruelty and not to mention emotional trauma.” Says Kusal Biswas.

Despite having many traditions rooted in animism, and an admiration for the natural world, India has not been an easy place for animals. There are incidents happening in our own backyards that we cannot ignore. With every stick or stone used to harm an animal, a part of our own humanity dies. Speak For Animals has over the year managed to cultivate a group of like minded good Samaritans who give tip offs about animals in need. We should mention here that not all people whom SFA has come across are indifferent to animals there are many who contribute to SFA by donating vaccines or helping support for the animals upkeep. Majority of accident cases often involve cows, bulls or dogs who are crushed under speeding vehicles. With so many strays on the road it is not an uncommon sight to spot road kill on the streets of Bhubaneswar.

Like several other countries around the world, hurting animals in India is also considered a punishable offence. But the lack of effective laws indirectly encourages the occurrence of such tragic incidents. The maximum punishment under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 is a meagre fine of 50 rupees or imprisonment up to three months or both. “Weak laws and non-enforcement help propagate abuses against animals. I know of atleast three such cases in the city of Bhubaneswar in the last few months where dogs were mutilated just because they were barking at night. In another case a dog had all of her legs smashed to pieces by security guard at an educational institution. When SFA reached the spot and threatened action against the perpetrator we were met with stiff resistance by the guards who were shielding one of their own. Thankfully with a little help from the students of the institute we managed to find him but I personally think we should have more stringent laws against such people because mutilating an animal is something which only a sick and depraved mind can do. The saddest part was that we had to put down the animal,” Says Kusal.

Speak for Animals is one of the few NGO’s in the state which approaches the matter with grave seriousness. SFA along with its volunteers spread awareness amongst neighbourhoods and communities about the value of animal life. For us it may be an animal but it sure does have life in it. It can respond to emotions, has cognitive skills and also sense pain or fear or respond to affection like any other human being. SFA does not just provide care for injured animals, they also provide vaccinations especially in the case of dogs. Lately if you look up on the internet the death of stray dogs is increasing due to a virus called the ‘Canine Distemper’ which has no known cure. Such a virus can effectively wipe out an entire dog population of the city in a matter of few weeks which in turn causes grave risk to the bio-diversity of the environment, exposing the environment to greater risk.

So if you are a big fan of animals and want to do your bit in helping making their lives better these are things that you must observe when you spot a distressed animal. Call the SFA helpline number and share the precise location. Often not sharing the right location causes slow down in the reaction time so be very clear and very precise. Don’t unnecessarily move the animal, if it’s there let it be there. Sometimes the injury or disease may not have outward symptoms so it’s always better to let it remain where it is. Cordon off the area if it’s possible. Do not pour water over the animal it is not always helpful especially in cases of smaller animals. Cover the animal if you think it’s too hot or too cold or if you see a wound which may get infected quickly. Lastly be compassionate to the animal. A little tender love and care would really lift the spirit of a distressed or injured animal rather than a thousand restraints on it.

Last but not the least SFA would like to make an appeal through this article. ‘We are running an animal shelter near Bhubaneswar where we nurse and treat animals back to health especially dogs. Feel free to contact us and help us in adoption of these lovely animals and also we ask the civil society to come forward and support us.’ Says Kusal Meanwhile from the shelter of Speak for Animals Robo, Alice, Blacky, Whiskey, Puchki, Motu and all the others over there say ‘Woof woof, woof, gruff, woof, woof, gruff.’ Which translates to ‘Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year folks.’ (Tails are wagging) and we hope you will call up SFA whenever there is an animal emergency. As Bugs Bunny says ‘That’s all folks.’

SFA Helpline No
Kusal : 9777270804

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