Despite a gruelling fight for space, resources and the fast-paced urban life, it would appear that Bangalore also is home to people with hearts that are bigger than these fights, willing to dedicate their time and resources towards the welfare of animals. Indeed, a large number of animal lovers are involved in a gentle crusade to make the city a more conducive place for the co-existence of animals and people. It takes a special kind of commitment and responsibility to not only be a foster parent but to get the abandoned, weak, hurt beings home, look after them like they were their own, nurse them back to health and then make sure they’re adopted into equally caring ‘forever homes’.
Whether they are individuals and couples looking after strays in their areas, fostering the helpless and creating healthy environments for them to live or mobilising other like-minded people for support and the creation of a safe city for all its residents, today we salute Bangalore’s fur-friendly purveyors of kindness.
I. Amee Mendez
Amee Mendez’s is no stranger to hostile neighbours and constant relocation. She is currently in the 23rd house that she has turned into a refuge for her 44 adopted stray dogs and one cat. A full-time employee at Tesco, she makes a respectable salary a month, but caring for so many animals is no joke – but she wouldn’t have it any other way. For her, they are her only family.
She had always cared for animals and helped those in need, but her journey truly started when Ammu came into her life. A wide-eyed black Labrador, together they came across two strays one day in need of help and care and since then, there has been no looking back. “She could never see anyone in pain. When I took her out for a walk, Ammu would make sure that I helped beggars. One day, we saw two abandoned dogs and one was stuck in a drain. I called for help and got her out,” Ms Mendez said in an interview with The New Indian Express. Sadly, Ammu passed away in 2011.
Threatened and abused over the years for her dogs by neighbours and locality people, Ms Mendez has not had it easy but she never gave in. Even today, she often goes out of her way to aid those that reach out to her, sometimes even walking out of her home to find an abandoned dog or cat tied to her gate.
She gets help from other animal lovers in terms of resources and finances and hopes one day to raise enough to build a compound where the dogs will have a bigger area to play and thrive in. You can help Ms Mendez by contributing whatever you can to care for her furry family.
II. Sudha Narayanan, Charlie’s Animal Rescue Centre (CARE)
Sudha’ Narayanan, whose name is synonymous with animal welfare in the city has spent close to 30 years working tirelessly to create a better Bangalore for our furry friends. When the Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA) shelter, where she was a trustee, had to be shut down in 2012, Ms Narayanan rallied five friends who together set up CARE.
Dogs, cats, rabbits, pigs – everyone finds safe haven at the Care shelter. Built on half an acre of land in Jakkur village, CARE was established in 2013. The inspiration here is Charlie, a 3-legged Indian dog who served as a very special animal-assisted therapy dog for children with Autism, with Ms Narayanan. CARE has an ambulance service (9AM-5PM), a distress helpline, boarding facility for cats and dogs; they provide 24-hour veterinary care and facilitate animal adoptions, among a list of other great things. Shuttling between her job at the Income Tax department and her time at CARE, Ms Narayan has made a space for animals of all needs and animal-lovers to come together and care (no pun intended) for each other.
Find out more about CARE here.
III. Jayaprakash Satyamurthy and Yasmine Claire
The home of Jayaprakash Satyamurthy and Yasmine Claire is nothing short of a sanctuary for cats. The duo has been rescuing and homing animals for over a decade now and they never turn away a cat. Jayaprakash is a part of the welfare trust called Animal Aid Alliance and he also runs the cat adoption page Moni’s Home For Needy And Hungry Cats on Facebook while Yasmine has been an activist since she was a child. The animal lovers wanted their dream of a cat-only shelter to come to fruition when they started a crowdfunding campaign to do the same. When asked what his favourite part of working with cats Jayaprakash simply says, “Just being with them. They are elegant, wise and, given respect, love and time, very loving.”
Despite all their work, they know that it still isn’t enough considering the growing number of animals that find themselves on the streets on a regular basis. The cat sanctuary was their way to provide them with a space with proper medical facilities and care, it was a true financial battle. However, it hasn’t hindered their loving spirit when it comes to animal care and they’ve kept their homes.
IV. Surya and Anu Singh | Save Animals India (SAI)
Surya Singh and his wife Anu would feed 40-50 stray dogs regularly in the Banaswadi area. Neighbours weren’t too pleased with the rising number of dogs coming into the area for food and blamed the couple, hassling them for their kindness to them. When they decided to move the dogs to nearby shelters, Mr Singh saw the unfit conditions that the animals were made to live in. A certified trainer by the Animal Welfare Board, Mr Singh then decided that they themselves would carve out a place for their lovely strays, giving birth to SAI (Save Animals India) Shelter in Yelahanka, on the outskirts of the city.
All of SAI’s 125+ residents are named by the Mr and Mrs Singh themselves. Rescue, rehabilitate and shelter is their moto, and SAI has lived up to each.
Find out how you can help SAI shelter here.
V. Freagles Of India
For their submissive and malleable nature beagles would be the choice breed when it comes to animal lab testings. In 2016 a law was passed that ordered the release of animals following once cycle of tests conducted. Rehoming the dogs would be the next challenge and this is where Freagles of Idia (FOI) came into being. Chinthana Gopinath, an active member and volunteer with Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA) in Bangalore, approached Awanti Agarwala to take on this mission of handling the release of a group of beagles from a laboratory. Without any hesitation, Ms Agarwala was on board.
Lab-tested animals of any kind come with their own special requirements that need patience and care when it comes to their handling. These are dogs that have rarely given the opportunity to socialise with humans and other animals, don’t see the light of day or experience the outdoors as they’re cooped up in small cages for most of their lives.
Ms Gopinath and Ms Agarwala officially registered Freagles of India in April 2017 as a trust and along with a core group of volunteers – Smitha Suri, Reena Chengappa, Nita Mahurkar, Garima Gupta, and Ajay Panekar, aside from Chandy, along with Natasha Chandy, a canine behaviourist.
Right from the first batch of 242 beagles that were released in 2016, the team has facilitated the medical care and proper adoption of all the dogs across the country. They’re expanding their reach to other cities, providing training to other animal rescuers and welfare groups when it comes to handling lab-tested dogs and finding them homes. The Hindu reports, “By the end of 2017, FoI had rehabilitated 350 beagles and became the go-to team for any releases from labs.”
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