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Animal & Bird Care

In India, the most visible street animals in urban or rural settings are dogs and cattle. Statistics show that India has about 3.5 crore stray dogs and 50 lakh stray cows. The numbers are rising each year. An average of 20,000 deaths is reported every year from rabies mostly from dog bites. In 2019, Haryana reported about 240 deaths between 2018 and 2020 from road accidents involving stray cattle. There is no doubt that these populations need to be brought under control but the methods followed need to be humane. Electrocution, poisoning, and beating to death are not options for population control. The people who advocate such methods can be considered the most degraded of humans.

But why does this population keep rising? 

Where dogs are concerned, it is because there is no comprehensive program of sterilization being implemented and neither is garbage removed promptly for disposal from the dumps. Stray dogs forage through garbage for food and when ‘food’ is freely available, they remain healthy. In the absence of mass sterilization programs, a healthy dog will reproduce and increase the population. As the population increases, so does the incidence of dog bites and rabies.

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Chetna Heroes Janani Krishnamurthy, Rafat Ahmed, Anuradha Mishra, and Amit Virmani have made the welfare of street dogs their lives’ work. Janani single-handedly revived the SPCA in Kodaikanal and now runs a successful birth control program for the area. Rafat, Anuradha, and Amit are located in the Delhi NCR area and work in different fields of street dog welfare. Rafat runs feeding programs and Anuradha takes in and cares for dogs, who are condemned to be put down. Amit works to get comprehensive medical treatment for strays involved in road accidents. 

Cows are reared in India for milk which they only produce for a period of about 10 months when they are lactating. The dairy industry forces the cow to give birth every year until she is no longer able to maintain a pregnancy. Cows that have outlived their usefulness, bulls and male calves make up the population. These abandoned animals are the ones seen on the streets of most cities and towns in the country feeding on garbage dumps. They also damage crops and cause road accidents. 

The government has established goshalas of cattle sheds for such animals but these are mostly overcrowded, leaving it up to responsible citizens like Vishal Garg to establish charitable shelters for them. Vishal runs two charitable goshalas in Gurgaon and Pune, caring for a total of about 250 cattle.

A trained software engineer transforming into a lawyer, N. Pravalika has also grown from an animal lover to an animal rights activist and environmentalist. Registering thousands of cases for cruelty against animals, she works hard to get laws implemented for animal rights and protection. 

The bird doctors are two brothers who run the world’s largest hospital for predatory birds in Wazirabad, Delhi. Working with donations from family and close friends, Nadeem Shahzad and Mohammad Saud have treated over 15,000 birds since 2003 in their hospital.

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