Standing for Animal Rights
‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has’.
Changing the world is no mean feat, but this quote reveals two of the great truths of the world- First, the world can be changed. Second, every great movement in the world starts with a tiny group of people who simply refuse to accept a situation.
Presenting EarthHeroes, stories of our “Everyday Heroes” who have refused to accept the situation and walked on the path of inner and outer sustainability.
Meet Janhavi Snehi. A 22-year-old LLB student and an Earth Hero in the true sense. She is a member of the Animal Welfare Board and has been working passionately and tirelessly for stray animals. She has fed, rescued and also given medical care to many. Her dream is to build a free hospital and shelter for them. Here is her story in her own words.
Nikita– What inspires you to take a stand for animal rights?
Janhavi– My love for animals is another thing which has grown with me since childhood. This love brought me my first pet cat. With time, this love has turned into my passion. Animals do not speak but they express a lot. Pets are humanizing. They remind us that we have an obligation and responsibility to preserve and nurture life. Having them around is bliss. They teach you many things like patience, selfless love and loyalty. In our country, animals are mistreated a lot. I cannot stand this at all. This has somehow led me to take a stand for animal rights. Today the situation is quite better. People are more aware of animals and their welfare. Even then, there is a long way to go.
Nikita– What work did you start with and how has it evolved over the years?
Janhavi– Like I mentioned before, I have a soft corner for animals since my childhood. I would always feed the stray cats and dogs in my colony. Whenever I came across an abandoned kitten or pup, I used to bring it home to take care of it. There started my journey. I even gave them medical treatment that was possible from my side. Even today, I always carry a small medical kit with me. This has helped me in the hour of need. Once I had treated a wounded buffalo at Mulund check-naka. Its owner was extremely happy and grateful. Today I feed more than 10 dogs from different areas. I even feed some cats and birds. There was a time when I had 12 cats in my house and 7 dogs near the building I stay. Their meal includes milk, Pedigree, biscuits and chew sticks sometimes accompanied by chicken-jelly food. Now, I just wish to continue my work and expand it even further.
Nikita– What difficulties did you face while doing this work?
Janhavi– Ah yes! Difficulties were endless. Sometimes I even felt like quitting this work but I most certainly did not. I have seen the most kind hearted to the cruelest people while doing this work. The main difficulty is that people do not consider animals as a part of the society. In fact, even our Constitution states that the citizens of India have a fundamental duty towards living creatures and animals. When I go to different places to feed strays, people get offended. They object to it and complain about it. Sometimes people have even hit the strays and tried to kill them. They have threatened me about filing a police complaint. It is obviously very saddening but not big enough to stop me from doing my work.
A curious stray dog. Photo by uditha wickramanayaka
Nikita– How did you handle these instances?
Janhavi– Initially I used to find it very difficult to face and handle these things. But as they say, Time is the best medicine; I am now immune to these things and can handle them quite well. I try to convince and answer people calmly. Raising your voice on them just makes matters worse, so I avoid it. I also show them the identity card I received from Animal Welfare Board. Being a law student, I know almost all legal terms regarding this. I also avoid society premises or any private property. When some people had threatened me about lodging a police complaint, I was very upset and scared and so were my parents. So, the next morning, I myself went to the police station and narrated everything to the police officers. Their response was extremely positive and helpful and they also appreciated my work. This inspired me to further continue working.
Nikita– What appreciation did you receive for your work?
Janhavi– Actually, I have received more appreciation than criticism. As I told you, even police officers have appreciated me for my work. My parents support me fully and most importantly they provide me the money I require. This work has also helped me get to know the real side of people. It has gifted me with some friends and some philosophers. There are many people, residents who coordinate with me every day. There are people who guide me when I need it. Also, there are some who help me in taking care of these stray friends. Some people have visited me personally to appreciate my work; some have gifted me a token of appreciation. Everyone has their own way appreciating and I have loved all of them.
Nikita– What suggestions would you like to give to our readers?
Janhavi– My primary suggestion would be to a humble request to all to consider strays as a part of our society as they too are living beings like us, who need food and shelter. Only a starving person can dare to rob another just to feed himself. The same logic applies to animals as well. If they are full, they will never attack you or trouble you. In fact, they will cherish you and befriend you. But if they are starving, they are likely to become aggressive. It is a request not to hate them and even if you do not like them, maintain a safe distance, but do not harm them. As we consider ourselves to be the superior species, it is our duty to protect them. Another suggestion I would give is, don’t buy, adopt. Adopt a pet. There is nothing wrong in buying too, but there are other animals needing our loving company and we do not even have to spend money to get them. Love is important and not the breed. Strays are also just as cute. Even if you have bought a pet, do not forget to show some love to the homeless animals. My next suggestion is the most important one. If you have a pet, please do not throw them away if they are sick or old or you are bored of them. They are not toys. Consider them to be a member of your family and never abandon them. Love them completely and they will love you back tenfold.
Photograph by Sagar Kulkarni
Nikita is currently in the fourth year of pursuing a bachelor’s degree in architecture from L.S Raheja School of Architecture, Mumbai, INDIA. She is a powerful story teller, and an editor at Earth5R. Her articles and stories have fetched her two awards on an international platform. She has also worked as a young journalist for a venture by ‘The Times of India’.