Meghalaya: A Movement on Animal Rights has begun- Is the Government Listening?
-By Shweta Raj Kanwar
"The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: That's the essence of humanity"- George Bernard Shaw.
Jimmy, my pet canine was more than just a pet for me- he was my friend, my companion in times of grief who gave me solace with his very existence. In 2015, he was shot at the leg by some unknown miscreants, making him permanently limp but yet, we treated him and he healed after six months. We must have realised that was only a warning sign for us as after eight months of the incident, one fine afternoon, as he left home to take a stroll- he went away Forever! We searched for him at all possible places and after a day, we found out that he was killed by some people for his meat, upon whom they feasted themselves.
That was the striking moment for me- an instance wherein I realised that even if I charge the perpetrators for their misdeeds, they would never be punished and never realise the gravity of the mistake they had committed. Never before had I felt so handicapped in my life. And this is exactly how owners of canines who have been abused, beaten, killed and eaten feel- helpless, unaided and grieved.
Therefore, in order to sensitise youth about the rights of animals to fight for, protect and promote Animal Rights across Shillong, focusing mainly on stray and abandoned dogs and cats, on July 15, the Stray Animal Rescue Society (SARS) held an inauguration programme for their volunteers.
Right from its inception in 2016, SARS has played its part to unite the animal loving citizens of our state and work together with the society and various other stake holders to better the lives of animals who deserve the most important right; the right to live.
SARS deals with various types of cases and activities that include Rescues, Adoptions and Fostering. Under Rescues, they deal with accidents, abandonment, neglect, abuse and missing pets.
The founders of Stray Animal Rescue Society, Tee Mawlong and Laia Ripnar have been helping animals in need in their own capacity since they were school children. Growing up, the learning was bitter sweet. They witnessed how animals in
Shillong (stray dogs and cats especially), were treated and silenced. They were not going to stare animal abuse in the face and walk away. That's how they got together with a few genuine animal lovers from Shillong and formed Stray Animals Rescue Society (SARS) in February 2016.
The July 15 event saw a good number of participants from young people, determined to come forward and voice for animal rights, ready to wage war against animal abuse. The event also witnessed participation of eminent personalities and SARS supporters like the OC of Sadar police station DK Prasad, WR Marbaniang, Retired IPS officer along with the Principal Director of Indian Audits and Accounts Department Smt. C Shailaja and Dr. S.Kynjing from the Veterinary Dept.
However, what was most disheartening to see was the absence of media personnel, despite being invited and sensitised about the event, it was sad to see that none of the press fraternity deemed it as worth covering. And this is the very reason why instances of abuse against animals do not seem to drop- the indifferent attitude of people.
It may be noted that from March 2016 to June 2017, SARS has tackled the following cases pertaining to cats and dogs-
Dog killing: 12
Lost and Found: 11
Lost(reported to SARS): 11
Total : 104
Again, this has all been made possible through culminated efforts of the proactive approach of Meghalaya Police that have always been ready to render their services in this regard. However, speaking to volunteers at the event, OC, Sadar Police Station, DK Prasad said, "The biggest drawback in our fight against animal abuse is the lack of stringent laws. Often the maximum punishment for crime against animals is Rs. 200 but we must note that life cannot be brought by money and we cannot be indifferent towards animal's life".
He further went on to lay emphasis on the need to mend our ways in terms of garbage disposal along streets that attract strays and increase the menace. Also, he stressed on the role of the Shillong Municipal Board in this regard.
He closed his speech on a very touching note when he said, "I request the society that we need to take this matter seriously and make punishment more stringent or we will be fighting a losing battle!".
Keeping aside the battle against animal abuse, SARS has been fighting a lone battle for the past one year as they do not possess any land to shelter the rescued animals, at least until they are fit for adoption. The sorry plight of SARS lies in the indifference of certain people who promised to help them on their face but did not recognise their deeds at their backs. However, we saw a ray of hope when the Principal Director of Indian Audits and Accounts Department assured them of help on the same.
SARS has mended the lives of numerous strays and lost or abandoned animals who would have met with a sorry fate had SARS not taken the initiative. The community is gradually expanding. Over 70 youth across Shillong have signed up in the first phase of the application process itself. For every application phase, SARS will be having an orientation and training program where volunteers will be taught:
- About PCA laws
- What is involved in each volunteering activity (Adoption, rescue, fostering, stray animal census, emergencies etc).
- Methods of rescue
- How to file an FIR
SARS also has a whatsapp group for emergencies and follow ups. Each volunteer will be given an SARS official Volunteer ID.
Let us, in our own capacity ensure that this does not become a losing battle- the war that has been waged, let victory be ours. You can also become a volunteer by contacting SARS at https://www.facebook.com/Stray-Animal-Rescue-Society-SARS-1695715677335189/
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