Mother to the homeless

“No stray is orphan,” says Sarita Chaturvedi, the woman behind Jeevalya, an organization for the welfare of stray dogs.

Moved by the plight of stray dogs and inspired by animal activist Maneka Gandhi, Sarita Chaturvedi, an entrepreneur by profession, has devoted her life for the welfare of man’s best companion, struggling hard to survive on the streets of Delhi. For her, a true worshipper of God is one who makes efforts to ease the suffering and pain of the poor animal in need.

Mother to the homeless

We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals, said Immanuel Kant. How true are his words in today’s world where cash strapped individuals caught in the nitty and gritty of life don’t have time for God’s loved creation animals.

We all come across many insecure, poorly fed dogs, dodging traffi c to fi nd shelter against harsh summer sun or rain or fi ghting a lone battle to stay alive. These incidents fi ll our heart with pity for the poor animal. But how many of us are ready to spend money, time and energy to mitigate the pain and suffering of these creatures. Hardly any. There are not many philanthropists on this earth who stand up to defend those who cannot defend themselves.

“Dogs are man’s best friend, who love their owners more than themselves and are ready to sacrifi ce their lives happily for them. How can you turn a blind eye to the suffering of an animal writhing in pain on the street after being run over by the car,” questions Sarita Chaturvedi, the woman behind Jeevalya, an organization for the welfare of stray dogs.

Beginning of a noble cause…

Narrating the incident, which led to setting up of Jeevalya, Chaturvedi told, “A female dog who used to guard our locality developed a tumor on her back and was in dire pain. Her wound had got infested with maggots. Although my neighbours were of the view of giving her a mercy death, I believed that one should make all efforts to save a living being till there is last breath. So, I took her for treatment and saw that she turned hail and hearty. Today, she is a happy dog roaming freely on the streets and I tuned my energies towards an animal welfare organization.”

Chaturvedi had to face objections from her neighbours, who raised hue and cry when she built kennels initially at her terrace to salvage these poor animals who were either recuperating from injuries, or a female dog who had just laid pups.

Jeevalya, as of now…

The organization, which came to life in 1998, started with fi ve dogs and has now more than 50 dogs at Shiv Vihar shelter home, spread over 1500 sq feet. The dogs at the shelter home are vaccinated, spayed and undergo routine check up apart from being inspected for ticks. Sarita added that she has spayed 80 dogs so far. Even though Jeevalya is not registered, it is still fi ghting tooth and nail for the rights of these animals.

Finances… only personal money

Managed by the sister duo Sarita and Rita, the organization does not run on fi nancial aid or donations provided by government, it is the money, which the two earn from their business of shoe accessories that goes for the welfare of the dogs. They are not alone in their endeavour, they have fi rm support of their families who have stepped forward to lend a hand in their noble pursuit.

Personal life takes a backseat…

Sensitive and sentimental, Sarita has stopped going on family vacations, so that her dogs that she has reared as her own babies, are taken care off well. Lending a helping hand in her noble pursuits is Dr. Gautam Anand, who does not hesitate even from visiting an ailing dog in the middle of night and charges a very nominal fee for spaying and vaccination.

Let’s lend a helping hand…

According to Chaturvedi, if each family either adopts a stray dog or takes up the responsibility of feeding, vaccinating and spaying a stray animal, the menace caused by them on the streets could be curbed. She also advises that residential welfare organization should step in and collect donations from each house to construct four to fi ve kennels in the locality and entrust the responsibility of feeding the animals to the guards, and in turn these animals would ensure security of the locality… not a big cost to make your society safe!

Animal laws in india: Are we insensitive?

The Indian democratic law system, which provides protection to animals, are in fact a result of a thousand years of tradition, practice, cultural ethics and a deep rooted lifestyle. Despite that we still continue to ignore the barbarism that our present society inflicts upon animals, whereas on the other hand.

Two months back, an eleven-year-old female dog was hacked alive by a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi. Despite a world wide, large scale uproar and protest against that man, not even a case was registered by the police…even after written statements by 41 witnesses! On the other hand, two years back, a man in London was sentenced to 180 hours community service, banned from keeping animals for five years and ordered to pay £1,200 costs at Sutton Magistrates’ Court… all because he neglected his dogs so badly that one had to be put down. Now, that’s what we call justice to our beloved canines!Countries like UK, have understood the rights of our animal friends and have devised ways to shun people from misbehaving with them. Back in India, it is really frustrating that inspite of liberal democracy, animal abusers are left scot-free. The reason for this callousness is not inadequate animal laws but lack of clarity in understanding that – Why such people should be punished at all in the fi rst place?

Animal laws in India have been in place for centuries together. Interestingly, before the Constitution of India was formally constituted, these laws prevailed in the form of religious cults, sects, customs and rituals. Be it Islam or Hinduism, the respect for all life and protection to animals were very strongly highlighted in our daily lives as canons and markers. So, for many centuries, tradition of law rotated around “coexistence”, “tolerance” and “respect” for all life forms.

This philosophy and knowledge later formulated the basic building blocks of the constitution of India which are laid down through the canons of the “Fundamental Rights”, “Duties” and the “Directive Principles of State Policies” in detail. We are only aware of some of the direct laws pertaining to animal rights such as the ‘Prevention To Cruelty Act,’ the ‘Animal Birth Control Rules’ and a few more.

Here are a few laws from our Constitution:

While Article 48-A says: “The State shall endeavor to protect & improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.” Article 51-A deals with the fundamental duties of the citizen. Article 51-A (g) states: “It shall be duty of every citizen of India to protect & improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.” Article 19 deals with the fundamental rights of the citizen. So “Right to Protect the Environment” comes within Article 19. The ten Fundamental Duties— given in Article 51-A of the constitution—can be classifi ed as either duties towards self, duties concerning the environment, duties towards the State and duties towards the nation.

“Directive Principles of State Policy” directs that the government should keep them in mind while framing laws, even though they are non-justifi able in nature. Directive Principles are classified under the following categories: Gandhian, Social, Economic, Political, Administrative, Legal, Environmental, Protection of monuments, Peace and security.

After the Stockholm Declaration in 1972 the Indian Constitution (Fortysecond Amendment) Act, 1976 inserted for the first time, specifi c provisions to protect and improve the environment. The IPC Section 428 and 429 and the Delhi Police Act section 78 provides protection from dislocation of dogs, abduction and acts of cruelty. Ministry of Public Grievances notifi cation and a similar notifi cation by Animal Welfare Board of India dated March 2008, provide immunity to animal feeders. The FBI, like the rest of the world, has recognized that the lives of serial killers suggested that most of them had killed or tortured animals as children. Other research has shown consistent patterns of animal cruelty among perpetrators of more common forms of violence, including child abuse, spouse abuse, and elder abuse. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association considers animal cruelty one of the diagnostic criteria of conduct disorder.

Animal cruelty and its prevention is the first issue India needs to address to even start calling itself a developing nation and a civilized and a safe society to live in. The laws are strong enough for protection of animals in India, yet the mentalities of the people have to change so as to bring those laws into action and implementation.

Anand Chhaaya: towards holistic healing

Established a decade ago as a refuge for distressed dogs, Anand Chhaaya has emerged as a paradise for them. Here’s more on this shelter of happiness.

The beginning…

In 1997, Anand Chhaaya was started as a refuge for dogs. “Anand Chhaaya (meaning shelter of happiness) is the home I built with my bare hands and every dog in this home is my child. It started in a small way with feeding the local dogs and rescuing injured ones and sheltering them in my house. At one time we had about twenty dogs living in the house and a few more on the road!” told Jaya Bhattacharya, the founder of Anand Chhaaya.

“The intention behind it was to provide treatment and lots of TLC, so we could socialize them, heal them – physically as well as emotionally and eventually get them adopted into loving and caring homes after vaccinating as well as spaying/neutering,” shared Jaya. The other main objective of Anand Chhaaya was to control the stray dog population in Bangalore through the systematic ‘Animal Birth Control’ programme. Five years later, the shelter was officially registered as an organization in 2002.

Humanely different…

“Anand Chhaaya is a ‘no kill’ organization where only the terminally ill and rabid dogs are humanely euthanized,” she added as a matter of fact.

They have also followed a unique technique that has proved to be extremely successful in the last ten years. This technique involves befriending the dogs and carrying out the programme rather than lassoing. The latter method has been proven to cause immense pain and trauma to the animal. Over 20,000 dogs have been vaccinated and sterilized by Anand Chhaaya so far.

Gaining momentum…

“Up until mid 2007, I was able to run the shelter almost entirely on family money and donations from kind hearted friends. It has now become impossible for me to fund it individually and fortunately people have come forward to help my abused canine children. There have been highs and lows, but one thing that has remained constant is our struggle to keep these dogs safe and their boundless love for us,” narrated Jaya.

Anand Chhaaya today…

“ Our animal shelter, now located near Hennur, accommodates abandoned and/or injured dogs and pups till they can be rehabilitated. The organization believes that every animal should be given a chance at life. Today, it is home to over 160 dogs. Our mission statement is ‘To strive for the welfare of human society and the environment through the improvement of animal welfare causes in an ethical and humane manner,” she explained.

“There are 5 dog keepers, who work 24×7 to ensure that the shelter is clean and provide two meals a day for all the dogs,” Jaya further added. “All dogs are like my family members, but the ones that the shelter was born with are extra special to me. Now they are aged veterans of the shelter. Hibiscus, Othello, Spotty, Julie, Molly, Snowy, Joker, Jack, Jill and Shenzi, some of whom are no more, were among my first rescues and they have struggled and grown with Anand Chhaaya and I share a special bond with them,” recounted Jaya.

The shelter offers facilities like ambulance, rescue operation, rehabilitation, vaccination, spaying/neutering, socializing and getting the dogs adopted, besides offering awareness and educational programmes. “We aim at conducting educational programmes to sensitize people towards animal cruelty, raise awareness about the wonderful Bharat Hounds, as well as to help them train their pets so that they can bond with and be proud of their pets and their pets can enjoy a lifetime of togetherness and happiness with their families. Soon, we would be starting dog training facilities as well,” she added.

Going on…

“Whenever I look into the eyes of a helpless animal and see the innocence and purity of their soul, I could never, and will never be able to, walk away from them. This feeling led me to establish Anand Chhaaya. There is an instant bond between us, like that of a mother and her child. This is my calling, the purpose of my life. I feel a devotion towards them that is prayerful in nature and I hope to work till my last breath for the betterment of these hapless dogs that have constantly been at the mercy of man,” Jaya envisaged.

Sharing views…

“It is very distressing to see people picking up puppies and realizing that they cannot care for them once they are grown up. When an animal is adopted, one should be fully aware of all the commitments and responsibilities and expense that come with that. Also, our very own Bharat Hound is more hardy, healthy and loyal than most of the expensive pedigree dogs that people go in for. Besides, sterilization needs to be promoted in a big way among pets. However, the most basic thing I ask of people is to respect animals and plants as a life form. Cruelty to these hapless animals should not go unpunished,” concluded Jaya.

Citizens for Animals

-the voice of the voiceless

‘Help those, who cannot help themselves,’ if we all follow this, the world will become more beautiful. And it will be the advent of a new world full of mutual respect, happiness… and fun. But gory incidents such as massacre of street dogs in a few cities of India, especially Bangalore, bring us to the verge of collapsing humanity. To fi ght such inhuman practices, a welfare organization, Citizens for Animals (CFA) was formed to take the moral responsibility of protecting unfortunate animals. Here, Rishi Dev, the founder member of CFA exudes his vision and mission of this powerful welfare organization.

Remember Tagore’s famous teaching ‘Move alone and people will join in your mission later’… Surely, with this thought in mind, a few good men joined hands together and started an organization – Citizens for Animals (CFA) on March 18, 2006. It might be a challenging journey for some, but for people like Rishi Dev, it’s their passion to serve the voiceless.

Their objectives

The main objective of CFA is to spread awareness among people. Their aim is to bring about adoption of street and abandoned dogs, building a nationwide network of animal lovers, keeping a check on any cruelty on animals by any individual or organization, following cases with the government agencies on policy matters, holding Animal Birth Control and anti-rabies campaign, conducting rallies and protest against any indiscrimination against animals.

Their projects

To achieve these goals, the organization has been conducting many projects since its inception. They conduct antirabies camps, adoption programmes and awareness camps. Besides, they are also planning to set up high facility street pup training programme, adoption center and hospital for animals.

Heartbreaking realities

Animal shelters face the problem of a large number of abandoned animals and this number is growing tremendously. Pet parenting demands responsibility. Those who are not ready to provide adequate care, simply abandon their pets. Lack of awareness and irresponsibility among pet parents further aggravates the situation. Illegal breeding, lame animal laws, ignorance and poor practice by law keepers end the life of pets on the streets and animal shelters.

Mitigating measures

Intervention of government with powerful laws is a must to check the uncontrollable growth of animal population on the streets. Unhealthy breeding should also be stopped by law. At the same time, conducting awareness programmes through animal welfare board of India, municipal corporations and NGOs will also help to reduce the problem.

Inculcating values in the young generation is a good measure to stop cruelty towards animals.

Garbage is the source of food for the strays. A successful waste disposal diminishes the chance of food intake and it will ultimately lead to the reduction of stray population. Tremendous growth of animal population and the spread of rabies can be checked by Animal Birth Control programmes and vaccination. The government should provide adequate grants and funds to NGOs to conduct such activities in a better way. By adopting street dogs, we the people can make a huge difference.

Their strength

They represent the common man and that is their biggest strength.

To conclude, Rishi expresses his compassion, “There is no higher relation than protecting and serving all God’s creations and the art of living is not in the survival of the fi ttest, but in mutual coexistence…”

Prem Chaaya

All living creatures are God’s gift to us. He has given us umpteen reasons to cherish…and our pets, especially pooches top the list. Still, there are incidents of abandonment and torture…by the pet owners themselves. Such shattered furry angels find ultimate refuge at the soothing surroundings of “Prem Chaaya”, which means “Shelter of Love”. Clifford D’Souza, founder of Prem Chaaya, a Mangalore – based animal welfare trust, gets candid with D&P and shares their journey so far…so good!

The age-old adage, “Once a dog lover, always a dog lover”, doesn’t always hold true. As there are numerous incidents when the dog is abandoned, once he falls ill or is old. But there are people, like Clifford, who have devoted their lives for the well-being of animals, who are just left all alone in this big-bad-world. Serving the mute creatures might be an animal welfare for some, but for Clifford, it’s the motivation that keeps him going. “I take up the task of animal welfare for my own satisfaction…I feel more content and happy, when I help someone, who cannot help himself,” D’Souza explained.

This compassion and unconditional love for the animals was the driving force that helped in the establishment of Prem Chaaya against all odds. “I was blessed with two GSD – Ginger and Honey, who were an integral part of our lives. This pet bonding filled our entire family with deep compassion for animals. One day, while on my way home, I found an injured puppy and took him home. And as they say, rest is history. This cute, l’il angel marked the beginning of Prem Chaaya in the backyard of our house in the year 2002,” he said.

Started in a car-shed, today, it has carved a niche for itself as one of the most trusted animal welfare trust. But the journey so far has not been a bed of roses; there have been struggles, financial difficulties and opposition. It’s the will that makes all the difference, and strong-willed team of Prem Chaaya, collectively sailed through it. “We have faced the rough sea, but now it’s a smooth sailing and we hope it to remain so in the future as well,” D’Souza envisaged.

This shelter presently houses 89 dogs and 115 cats, of various breeds, age, size and colours. “These are what we refer to as “Permanent Inmates”, and in addition, we receive puppies, kittens, dogs and cats almost daily. Some of these who are terminally ill or aged stay behind,” shared D’Souza.

Telling more about their functional areas and projects, D’Souza elaborately explained, “Our primary focus is on educating the general public. It is our belief that if one is not capable of looking after a pet, one should not own a pet. When the basic needs of food, shelter, medical aids coupled with love and care are not provided to pet, the right to a decent and dignified life is breached. The other areas of focus are sterilisation to ward off unwanted population, vaccination to prevent rabies and air-borne diseases, extending nutritional and medical assistance and providing shelter to abandoned pets and strays.”

“There are several initiatives that have been taken over the past few years. We started with the “Birth-in-Dearth” programme – a sterilisation programme to reduce the stray population and get pet owners to operate their dogs and cats to avoid unwanted litter. This programme went hand in glove with the “Need-a-Needle” programme, which was a vaccination drive and fight against rabies and air borne diseases. With the count of stray puppies and kitten moving upwards, we introduced the “Home-not-Alone” programme – an adoption plan to give away the young ones to good homes after educating the people,” D’Souza added.

But for Prem Chaaya team, it’s not just superficial efforts to sweep the matters under the carpet, they are truly dedicated to “Create a Heaven For Pets.” Even after achieving so much in a short span of time, Prem Chaaya is committed to do more. Some of the plans for the future are to open veterinary units to extend medical care to cattle in rural areas; and to conduct awareness programmes in schools, colleges and offices.

Prem Chaaya, after having established itself as a healing place for animals, went a step further by opening a City Veterinary Unit in Mangalore, which boasts of a fully equipped medical facility to cater to pets and strays. Prem Chaaya has indeed stood the test of time and is going great …Kudos! To this noble cause!

–by Smita Mishra

Paw Concerns

“The main reason for increased numbers of animals at the shelters is the sheer indifference shown by pet owners. People who supposedly looked after their pets for many years, one day just come to us and surrender their pets with exceedingly lame excuses. They should remember that a dog or cat is a life form and not an object. Respect the rights of an animal, especially their right to live. On the other hand, there are numerous animal lovers, whom I wish would adopt a stray pup/kitten and give them a good home. This would solve the problem of stray animals roaming on streets and very often, meeting a gory end. It does not matter, if you already have a pedigreed pet in home. The quantum of love, affection and unquestionable loyalty that you receive from an ordinary mongrel is equal, if not more. Indian dogs are more resilient and have better immunity to diseases. They require far less pampering. So, do adopt a stray animal and you too can contribute in alleviating their suffering.

Animals may be mute, with the inability to express joy and suffering. But that does not give us the right to ill-treat them and show disrespect. This is my appeal to the people – if you cannot provide the basic needs of ensuring a decent life to an animal, please, do not look after one. They are better left alone. Please do not add insult to injury and make their life hell on earth,” says Clifford.

Defeating disability: finding a way out


The decision to live with a disabled pet is as monumental as it can get, since it requires not just a lot of grit, love, time and effort, but also an intricate knowledge of the right medication and resources. The whole idea is not just to keep them alive, but to give the four-legged darlings a life that is joyous, loving and complete – even with their disabilities!!!

It was in 1999, that Joyce and Michael Dickerson had adopted Duke, a highenergy puppy, from their local shelter. While playing with some other puppies at a friend’s house, Duke was badly injured and Joyce rushed him to the vet. After reviewing his X-rays, it was determined that Duke’s back was broken. 

Joyce and Michael were faced with two options – to put Duke to sleep or have him undergo immediate surgery. However, throughout the trauma, Duke’s tail never stopped wagging. And Joyce and Michael couldn’t help but ask themselves, “How could you put a pet to sleep while he is still wagging his tail?” They immediately opted for the latter option. But unfortunately, the procedure did not go as expected and Duke was paralysed. When Joyce and Michael picked up Duke four days later, they had no plan or knowledge about caring for a paralysed puppy. But their beloved pet was in need and their commitment was strong. Michael slept on the kitchen floor for over a month, even as a friend began to research the internet for wheelchairs. Ten months later, Duke had his wheels, proving Joyce and Michael had certainly found their way.

In January 2000, Joyce’s longtime friend sent her an article he read in the New York Times. The article was about pets and human intervention, and contained a small paragraph about a dog named Misty. She was a disabled mixed-breed who had been living in a shelter for five years. After some research, Joyce and Michael discovered that Misty was still in the shelter! After pondering over having and caring for two handicapped dogs, they decided that since they were already caring for a 70-pound handicapped dog, a dog 20-pound would be easy in comparison. Once the decision was taken, the couple drove to New York from Maryland to adopt Misty. With some tender, loving care and a new wheelchair, Misty was soon mobile and happy. More than that, she was now loved and had finally found her way home.

After adopting Misty, Joyce and Michael couldn’t help wondering about all the other disabled animals who were in need of love and family. Now, equipped with valuable experience with Duke and Misty, they finally founded Pets With Disabilities, a grassroot organization based out of Maryland, with volunteer support in New Jersey.

Primarily, the mission of this organization is to advocate and network for animals with disabilities. It is a small, close network of people who provide assistance to individuals and rescue groups that are seeking support, homes and products for disabled animals. Such animals include dogs who are disabled or those with special needs, to even those who need special attention due to their age. What’s more important is that the organization only seeks to provide support for the disabled animals who have the will to live, zest for life; who are otherwise healthy in spirit, physical condition and mind. But the organization does not, in any way, advocate or condone saving a life for selfish reasons, such as when he is in pain, when there is no quality of life or when the animal does not have the desire to live. Pets With Disabilities only strives to give quality of life for those disabled animals who simply need assistance with their environment (e.g. due to blindness, deafness), medical needs (e.g. due to allergies, neurological disorders) or through the use of orthopaedic products (e.g. due to paralysis, hip dysplasia).

Case histories :

  • Virginia Johnson, residing in New Jersey, learned of Pets With Disabilities through a family member after her pet ‘Lady’ was diagnosed as being blind just less than a week of getting her home. She was diagnosed with retinal detachment, a genetic eye disease common in Collies. Although, Lady is completely blind, she is a very active girl who loves to practice her training, play, chase the water hose in the summertime and volunteer as a certified Canine Good Citizen thereapy dog every week. Lady is a testament to how intuitive, resilient and capable an animal can be while living with a disability. She is truly amazing to watch! (  
  • Lynne Przychodzki, also in New Jersey, saw Duke playing fetch down the aisle, while attending a Pet Expo. After visiting the booth, she researched their website and decided to adopt a dog Mikko, who was living at a sanctuary for abused and neglected animals in California. He was a senior who had been abused, blind in one eye and had lost his leg due to an old injury that had not received medical care. Sadly, Mikko passed away. But Lynne was so touched by her experience with having Mikko, that she was inspired to provide another disabled animal a home. Lilly, the new pet, was the only survivor when her mother attacked the entire litter two days after giving birth. She had suffered a bite to her spine causing several broken vertebrae and an infection in her bones. While she had some feeling in her hind hegs, she sustained neurological damage that made Lilly unable to walk normally. But now, with the help of her wheelchair, Lilly gets along fabulously! She not only attends a puppy playtime programme, but also makes sure her ‘brothers’ don’t get much rest from playing either.

(For more details, contact Lynne Przychodzki at

Healing paws!

The magic of pawfect love can instill unimaginable spirits in the most depressed souls. As they say even the darkest cloud has a silver lining… it’s just that we have to spot it. And Animal Angels Foundation, a Mumbai based organization is helping millions get that spark back to be happier and healthier by providing Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT). Even a small helping paw can make the biggest difference.

Geeta is a typical child with severe Autism. She now smiles at people who matter the most to her – mother, teacher and the therapist. Her eye contact has improved and she shows inclination to communicate… just after a few sessions of Animal Assisted Therapy. Shekar, a resident of Cheshire Home has been on a wheelchair since the past twentyfive years. His hands and legs are immobile; he was depressed most of the time and he hardly got out of his room, until Angel, a two-year-old Golden Retriever walked into his life. He now looks forward to her weekend visits so that they can play ball, tug of war and he can feed her biscuits and brush her, all of which help him develop his fine and gross motor skills. He smiles and talks to Angel and says, “She is the best friend I ever had!” Angel works as a co-therapist for Animal Angels Foundation, a Mumbai based organization, which provides animalassisted therapy to diverse population.

Animal Angels Foundation is a group of clinical psychologists who work with trained animals, chiefly dogs, to help people and children improve the quality of their lives. And they are certified practitioners of what is now recognised as animal assisted therapy (AAT). It is one of the few organisations in India working professionally in this field. Angel, who is the first therapy dog of this organization is also the inspiration behind the name Animal Angels.

It is ably run by Rohini Fernandes and Radhika Nair, who are clinical psychologists, certified practitioners of Animal-Assisted Therapy as well as professional dog trainers. Today, Animal Angels Foundation has 10 therapy dogs and one trained therapy cat. These fourlegged doctors help people learn new skills, speed up their recovery process and help them cope with life’s day-to-day challenges such as loss, stress, loneliness and illness. They work with a wide range of individuals in the areas of developmental disabilities (like autism, cerebral palsy), psychiatric disorders (like schizophrenia, depression), physical disabilities, physical illnesses and behavioural/emotional problems. All words fall short to express the positive impact of animal therapy on patients’ recovery.

PAWsitive therapy

What makes animal-assisted therapy different from conventional therapies is that therapy animals have a way of accepting human beings without qualification.

The warm playful presence of these therapy pets also helps to lower anxiety and increase the comfort levels in a person, which is especially effective with withdrawn, and uncommunicative persons. Sometimes people who suffer from a mental illness or emotional problems tend to focus on themselves. Therapy animals help them refocus themselves on their environment because, rather than thinking and talking about themselves and their problems, they watch and talk to and about the animals. Such flourishing companionships brings loads of positive changes, which can be broadly classified into :

Behavioural improvements

  • Increase in interactions among group members.  
  • Increase in attention skills.  
  • Reduction in aggression.  
  • Increasing self-esteem.  
  • Reducing anxiety.  
  • Reducing loneliness.  
  • Developing leisure/recreation.

Motivational improvements

  • Improved willingness to be involved in a group activity.  
  • Improved interactions with others.  
  • Improved interactions with staff.  
  • Increased exercise.

Physical improvements

  • Improved fine motor skills.  
  • Improved wheelchair skills.  
  • Improved standing balance.

Educational improvements

  • Increased vocabulary.  
  • Aid in long- or short-term memory.  
  • Improved knowledge of concepts such as size, colour, etc.  
  • Incidental learning.


How therapy pets work?

The therapy pets regularly visit places like hospitals, schools, orphanages, old age homes, etc to provide special therapy sessions. The organization also specialise in training therapy dogs for those who may want to have a therapy pet at home. The organization jointly works with other professionals such as a speech pathologist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, psychotherapists etc and does pre-therapy, mid-therapy and post-therapy evaluation. It’s a pawfect way to bring smile on those who are not that lucky and our little paws are doing just what they are capable of – spreading love and care all around. Kudos Animal Angels Foundation!

For more information, contact Rohini Fernandes at Ph :+91 98207 88703 / Email: or Radhika Nair at Ph : +91 98201 44621 / Email:

5 Medication Perils

  1. Do not leave tablets and ointments in places where your pet can reach as they can swallow them and become sick.  
  2. Do not use human medicines for your pet as dosage and application may vary.  
  3. Do not use old pet medicines as they can get spoiled over time.  
  4. Do not use your own creams or oils to cure skin ailments in your pet as they can lick and ingest it.  
  5. Do not medicate your pet with your own prescriptions. For your pet’s health, always consult your veterenanian.

Canines: right to live!

We love our canines and most of us would love to provide them a better world to live in. Here’s a forum for all animal lovers to voice the rights of our pooches and become their guardians in a true sense.

The Indian culture has always encouraged its cliché to grow in natural existence; natural existence that is further harmonized by the environment we live in. It goes back to the teachings of the Gurukul, where the gurus believed in teaching their students amidst the natural surroundings, an environment where the harmony of flora and fauna co-existed.

Not only this, Indian mythology has worshipped animals and considered them sacred. For example, cows are considered holy because of Lord Krishna’s (avatar of Vishnu, the Supreme God) association with her; rat is the vehicle of Lord Ganesha (the God of prosperity) and dog is the vehicle of Bhairava (the incarnation of Lord Shiva, the destroyer).

The Mahabharata highlights yet another interesting tale about our furry canines, wherein Yudhishtira, the eldest Pandav, along with his four brothers and wife Draupadi, proceed on the great journey or ‘Mahaprasthna’ to obtain spiritual peace. They gave up all worldly possessions and handed over their empire in able hands. They bade farewell to everybody, leaving everybody behind, except a dog, who followed them throughout their journey. On the way, all died except Yudhishtira and the dog, who managed to reach their destination. Devendra, the God of firmament and the king of the abode of gods, came on a heavenly chariot and offered Yudhishtira to come with him to the heavenly abode. But, Yudhishtira refused to leave his brothers and Draupadi behind. At this, Devendra told him that all of them have left their human bodies and already waiting for him in the heaven. At this, Yudhishtira exclaimed that he couldn’t leave the dog behind, who had been faithful to him. He said that he couldn’t abandon someone who had trusted him. Hearing these words, the dog suddenly transformed into Yamadharma and exclaimed that Yudhishtira had been a righteous man and his love and compassion for living beings is exemplary. He then asked him to board the chariot and go to heaven.

There are numerous other instances where our loving pooches have woofed into the hearts of their pet parents. Amidst all these, we hear of barbarous acts inflicted on our animals and animal lovers like us, feel the heat. Some animal activists have raised their voices in protest of such incidents but still a lot needs to be done.

It is in this context that we are starting a section on ‘Animal rights.’ This would be the forum for all animal lovers to express their views on the subject and make a difference. To start with, here are views of two of our readers:

Why animal rights?

“Animals are God’s creatures, not human property, nor utilities, nor resources, nor commodities, but precious beings in God’s sight.”

-Rev. Dr. Andrew Linzey 1952

One might ask that what are animal rights and why are they required. Well, each living being has a right to live and have a complete sensory nervous system allowing them to be aware and communicative. Like us, they also feel pain, pleasure, fear, frustration, loneliness, and motherly love. Jeremy Bentham, the founder of the reforming Utilitarian School of Moral Philosophy, stated that when deciding on a being’s rights, “The question is neither ‘Can they reason?’ nor ‘Can they talk?’ but ‘Can they suffer?’” Animals surely deserve to live their lives free from suffering and exploitation.

Animals have certain rights, for instance, a dog most certainly would not like having pain inflicted on him unnecessarily. Hence, care should be taken not to hurt them in any way. Children should be taught to respect their pets and not to hurt them while playing.

Only after understanding that animals too have rights to live their lives free from suffering and pain done by humans, then only we can understand the pain given to animals and join hands to stop this merciless torture.

– Abhaya Adlakha

The present day barbarians

Two months back, I was shocked to hear two news of brutalities endowed upon our canines. While one of the news focussed on BMC’s (Bombay Municipal Corporation) decision to kill all strays in Bombay, on the pretext “Like Singapore,” the other focused on a brutal game of dogs. It is a game where dogs are killed and made to kill his own kind for pleasure and betting. It showcased one of the most cruel, barbaric, outrageous and unfortunate acts. The dogs are pitted to fight each other only to make their cruel masters rich. They are brutally injured, starved, beaten and forced to become ferocious. The winner lives for another episode of barbarism while the loser dies in pain and suffering either during or after the fight. Our loyal friends are trained by a few greedy people to become wild. Disgusting, I would say!

Canines have proven time and again to save and protect us. They have been successfully trained to become the eye to the blind and serving the less. A simple so-called stray is untrained but he still guards the neighbourhood, as he struggles to survive, caring for their litter and loving everyone around. Let us all join in the struggle to save our friends from such brutalities.

– Rachel Isaac, Mumbai

Krishna Ashram : pariahs’ paradise

The busy city life moves really fast, and we are so preoccupied with our regular nitty-gritty that we hardly find any time for animal welfare. Before giving a positive nod to this statement, just think again. For here’s a glaring example for us, right here in Delhi – Rita Singh, a successful businesswoman and founder of Krishna Ashram (KA), who in spite being far busier than most of us, has created paradise for our pariahs and pets. Read on to know more about her compassionate tale of love.

Sprawling lush greens extending at lengths in all directions, filled with the cacophony of friendly barks echoing from every corner…welcome to serene yet fairly dynamic dwelling of more than 215 dogs…better known as Krishna Ashram. Situated on the outskirts of Delhi, it is an ultimate refuge to heartbroken, sick and abandoned dogs and cattle. The lady behind this noble cause is Rita Singh, who opened the gates of her home and heart to these mute angels. The roots of this noble gesture are deep and firm; it’s been 30 years, since Rita Singh embarked on her journey to make a better world for animals, though, Krishna Ashram was registered under Society Registration Act as an NGO, just five years back.

Since childhood, Rita grew up with unmatched compassion for animals. So what triggered her to start such a welfare organization? On asking about the inception of Krishna Ashram, Rita went nostalgic and shared, “Since childhood, I always wanted to pet a dog, and I got my first pet, when I was six, called ‘Champi – a stray’. And once, someone abandoned Champi at a far off railway station and after two days, she came back to me. It was magical moment for me…and since then these animals became an indispensable part of my life.”

As a young animal lover, she began tending animals at her home, and gradually it became one big happy family, where all the members love each other’s company. She started off with very little money and almost no help. It was Rita’s untiring efforts and hardwork that has turned this humble beginning into a full-fledged animal welfare mission. Pets at Rita Villa are never chained or caged, this is something Rita hates doing; they all are free and thence high-spirited souls. But not-so-pet-friendly neighbours have their own reasons to get little upset at times. “I want to give ample space to my pets, thus I moved to a farm house in 1986 with 30-40 dogs. And over the years I provided shelter to all those, who needed help, and today I have 215 dogs,” she added.

Rita has helped animals from streets, roads, railway stations, airports etc. Being a busy businesswoman, how does she find time for such a cause? To that she enthusiastically replied, “While travelling, I keep my Hawk eyes on roads to help suffering animals. At times, I have even cancelled my meetings, if I found any hurt animal. Wherever I go I am keen to help them, they are everywhere. Even in our Mumbai office and Orissa Steel Plant, we have many such companions. I feel responsible for them, and always have time for them, no matter what.”

Rita has gained sound popularity amongst the locals and villagers, and they are voluntarily associated with the cause. Whenever any dog/cattle is in distress, they rush to Krishna Ashram for rescue. “People come to us with injured and sick dogs, we provide first-aid and medication to them and we keep them with us for a few days before sending them back.”

The organization has highly qualified veterinary doctors, including surgeons and resident doctors (available 24×7), office staff (committed to their duties), ambulance drivers (always ready for an emergency) and several helpers (all committed to their jobs). Sometimes vets have a real tough time, treating bad cases of wounds, maggots, injuries, ticks, etc. “Vets always give their best to save every soul. We have a well-equipped clinic and dog care center and round-the-clock ambulance facility as well, and in case of urgency other cars are also here,” she added.

The people at Krishna Ashram are actively busy with the ongoing sterilization campaign, and Rita herself looks after every animal and comforts them. As she explained, “We have been doing selective sterilization, I mean we prefer to sterilize all females first, because that’s a better way to control stray population. We don’t believe in ‘Catch-neuter-leave,’ we do stress-free sterilization. After sterilizing, we keep them with us for 5-10 days, before sending them back. That way, we assure good health also.”

She fondly compared her compassion for the animals with love, and said, “When you are in love no logic works, this is what implies with me also for my over 200 pets. Its purely unconditional love.” Seeing doggies basking under the sun, rubbing their backs, sharing camaraderie and enjoying opulence, further affirmed her love for them.

Over the years, her compassion for animals has turned so strong that she has developed a mystic bond with them. “While observing animals, I easily find, which one is sick or sad, which dog will fall sick tomorrow. I understand their actions and gestures completely,” she added.

So far so good, Krishna Ashram still has a long way to go as Rita envisaged, “It’s been going fine till now, but now I want to have a proper set up for that. We have been working hard for this also. Our dedicated team of professionals is giving their best. We have got the support of some of the best vets in towns and we are also vying for international animal welfare support. We are also looking for bigger place, where our pariahs can enjoy more freedom.”

Being responsible for so many lives is not an easy task, and it becomes more difficult, when one fights against all odds alone. But for a person like Rita, it was not an ordeal rather a fulfilling journey. According to her, “It’s really a tough life for any pet enthusiast in India. We all have to go through ups and downs of life; sometimes it becomes very painful. People face myriad constraints; lack of funds and aids are the prominent ones. But thankfully I have my own resources. So, I expect less from others and rely more on my individual efforts.”

Rita’s greatest area of concern is lack of awareness amongst the people. Most of the pets and pariahs fall prey to this. “Kidney and liver problem is the most common ailment and people don’t know how to deal with it,” she grieved. To conclude, she added, “It’s my mission to start a specialized hospital for kidney and liver disorders in animals, which would be second to none. And I hope to substantiate it soon.”

All those compassionate animal lovers, who want to join in Rita’s crusade for animal welfare can contact at Krishna Ashram : D-3A Rita Villa Satbari Farms, New Delhi Ph :26652449 or e-mail:

Let love be the reason!

“Nothing but true love must be the reason for having a pet. Never keep a pet as status symbol or for security purpose. Only if you have compassion for these furry angels, then have one. It’s really sad to see them suffering. They are living beings, they feel shattered and disillusioned, when we abandon them for strange and silly reasons. We must take inspiration from slum dwellers, cobblers, and rickshaw pullers etc, who with their minimal earnings treat strays and pets in a better way and shower loads of unconditional love on them. Keep a pet only if you feel responsible for his/her well-being for life, just like our own children.”

– by Smita Mishra

‘Save Our Souls’ The pariahs’ appeal

‘Save Our Souls’ The pariahs’ appeal

I was on my way back from the doctor when I saw her first. She looked weak and thin, just half a month old, she was already a bag of bones. I stopped the car and bought a pack of biscuits. I offered her a biscuit but though she smelled it inquisitively, she didn’t seem to want any. On pampering, her scrawny little tail wagged and she came near. A few pats and I couldn’t leave her there to starve. Impulsively I picked her up and marched back to the car with her. ‘Home’ I said to the driver.

Luckily I come from a family of dog lovers. So, Candy (as we named her) got a warm welcome at our place. We dug out some old clothes, wrapped her up and got a box for her to sleep. Though she slept all right in her box, but she was happiest on our laps. There she’d snuggle up to us and sleep tight. So each one of us was assigned lap duty during different times of the day.

The whole day passed in feeding sessions (Candy had to be force fed because she wouldn’t eat), lap duty and visits to the vet. For first few days she had a continuous temperature and her eyes were always full of discharge. So the vet inevitably gave her an injection every time we took her in. Her eyes cleared, the fever stopped… we were so happy. Our little baby was going to be fine.

Then the nightmare began… Candy started crying all night. We took her to the vet who noticed an abscess on Candy’s leg. Apparently her life on the street had been harder than we thought – someone had kicked her and that had caused the abscess. On vet’s suggestion, we laid her down on a hot water bottle. She looked content – all snug and warm, until the abscess opened up. Then she began crying with pain. We rushed her to the doctor. The doc cleaned up the wound and said she wouldn’t be able to walk for another two days till it started healing. And to our horror, little thing had diarrhoea also. That night I brought Candy upstairs, and slept in the room with her. Did I say ‘sleep’? Sorry – my mistake. I didn’t get a wink of sleep that night. She cried and whined all night. Even though the wound seemed to be getting better but she continued to cry for the next two days.

Every day there were visits to the vet. He put her on drips, and said she could have a tummy infection. Maybe that was why she wasn’t eating. So we started her on a course of antibiotics. The diarrhoea gradually stopped but the crying continued. We took her to another vet, and then another. One said she could have the Parvovirus.

Parvovirus is a viral disease that usually attacks little puppies. They stop eating, get dehydrated, have a continuous temperature and eventually die, unless they are treated in time. My sister burst into tears while my mom and me tried to be brave. Little Candy though didn’t have a clue as to what was happening. Wrapped up all snug in a crocheted top, she gazed at us with those beautiful black eyes of hers. She was content. After all she was on my lap, being cuddled and everyone was fussing over her.

She went for the medical examination and thankfully the result was negative. We gave little shrieks of joy.

That night there was crying again, along with little spasms in her stomach. The spasms had been there before but they’d been much less. We assumed they were gripes and gave her gripe water. We even took her to a Pranic Healer who said it was caused by lack of water. So we spoon fed her water. But none of that helped. The spasms were getting much worse. And now they no longer seemed restricted to her stomach – they would start in her stomach and would then pass over her whole body. The crying was getting worse too.

The next day, the spasms started when I took her for her drips. The doctor took one look at her and said it could be Canine Distemper. I didn’t believe him. Dogs with distemper had continuous fever, didn’t they? And they didn’t get better on their own. He had to be mistaken.

My dad and me took her to the vet and he confirmed our worst fears. Candy had distemper. She couldn’t walk because the distemper was slowly causing paralysis. My dad drove home in silence while I sat at the side with Candy on my lap.

That night was the worst of my life. Candy started crying at around 10 and by 3 in the morning she still hadn’t stopped. Her wails were getting louder. We couldn’t let her suffer like this any more. The chances of her recovery, if any, were very slim. At one and a half months she was already partially paralyzed. We couldn’t let her scream in pain for hours every day. So, we drove in silence to the Blue Cross. We carried Candy to the clinic and laid her down on the table there. She was still asleep. We waited in silence while the watchman went to get the syringe, each of us trying unsuccessfully to hold back our tears. The injection took barely a few seconds to work and then she was gone. The doctor lifted her eyelids but those beautiful black eyes were lifeless. That was the worst moment of my life.

Losing a dog is a terrible thing. We’d had Candy for just about ten days and yet losing her was so painful.

Candy taught us many things – how to trust without reason (even when the person you trust takes you for painful drips everyday), that however bad your pain when you cuddle up to someone you love you always feel better… No one can love quite like a dog. Candy showed us that every day when she was with us.

I still think of Candy and miss her. There are thousands of dogs and puppies just like her, who die a painful death from distemper – most of them without the comfort of a loving family. I hope the day will come when all the strays will have home. But until then, I’ve decided to help an NGO in my city called ‘Animal Welfare and Protection Trust’, which is run by an old couple. They make sure that every dog they sterilize is vaccinated for distemper and other diseases before they leave the shelter. They wish to build a permanent shelter for strays. If that happens, Candy’s death would not have been in vain.

– by Natasha Amrolia