Some of you may have been wondering where I (and the content on Something Decent) has been over the past two months. Tumble weeds have been rolling and dust has been gathering on the homepage. To put it bluntly, I personally like to travel and, once again, have been off gallivanting around the all encompassing sub-continent of India with a backpack and a pocket full of hope. As is often then case I have been travelling with my partner and we have seen/done a huge amount while away from our first world problems in the UK.
As this was our second visit to my father’s native homeland we both had a better idea of what we wanted to do while there and of what to expect. One of the main things we both noticed on our last visit was the heart wrenching way in which the mass poverty had affected animal welfare throughout the entire country.
In ‘developed’ countries we tend to have the rose tinted goggles on when we think of animals in places such as India. This is partly due to the Hindu religion placing a lot of focus on karmic justice and the holy importance of animals such as cows. Sadly all is not as you would imagine. The reality is the extreme poverty and lack of available education has lead to a plethora of malnourished animals, which are severely mistreated, being dumped onto the streets with nothing to eat and nowhere to go.
Although some locals do their best to help feed the stray animals, many of them end up ingesting high volumes of plastic and other inedible materials. This sadly results in a slow and painful death. Many northern Indian states outlaw the euthanising of bovine animals. This means that cows have quite a raw deal. How do they end up on the street? The sad reality is, if an animal is unable to earn money they are seen as a burden. In a country with no real safeguards for its citizens’ health/quality of life, it’s near impossible for people to feed themselves, let-alone providing care for a stray animal. Add to that the fact that the dairy industry in India simply toss their no longer needed cows (or newborn bulls) to the curb like yesterdays news and you start to get an idea of just how big this issue is.
Enter Animal Aid Unlimited
Thankfully there are many non-profit organisations within the country which are attempting to assist animals that have been mistreated, while taking preventative measures in order to tackle ongoing issues such as the growing number of street dogs which wander India’s many urban streets. While my partner and I were most recently on our travels we had the opportunity to volunteer at Animal Aid Unlimited in Udaipur, Rajasthan – a non profit organisation which offers emergency medical treatment, care, rescue and sanctum to the local area’s animals which are most in need.
The charity itself was started back in 2002 by Erika, Jim and Claire Abrams of Seattle, USA. Since its inception the charity has found itself to become one of the more prominent and respected organisations in the country. Their YouTube channel has regularly been gaining millions of views for their direct approach to animal welfare and rescue, which doesn’t gloss over how severe some of the cases they receive actually are.
While staying in Udaipur (specifically for the purpose of volunteering at Animal Aid) my partner and I were able to see, first hand, just how hands on the team are and how much they care about the safety of all animals no matter how big or small. While it was evident on a daily basis through the sheer number of animals which were tended to, the standout scenario which made both of us realise just how much the staff at the shelter care was when my partner and I called them to assist with a poor dog that was in dire need of medical attention and love on the street which we stayed.
It was about 6.30pm and we were almost home after our shift at the shelter when we saw a terrified dog, absolutely obliterated by mange, curled up in a ball on the side of the road. Feeling his desperation and pain we both stopped walking in an attempt to give him some biscuits as, to add to the mange and obvious mistreatment, he was severely underweight. The poor boy cowered away at the thought of us going near to him as if we were some wicked tormentors back to add to his fears.
After getting a full sight of his injuries and illnesses we decided we needed to call the assigned volunteer coordinator who assisted us with calling the emergency ambulance to come and assist him. After we had got over the slight language barrier one of the senior members of staff arrived on his moped and waited with our little buddy until the ambulance came to collect him.
The following day we were able to see the rescued street dog in the light of the day and in a place where he had food, water and, perhaps most importantly, love. His injuries were so much worse than the dimming light of the evening would allow us to see previously – his skin was so ridden in mange that it had cracked to the point of bleeding, his legs were injured, he was seriously malnourished and had lost about 80% of all his body hair – and we were eternally grateful to the staff at Animal Aid for saving him.
For the remainder of our time in Animal Aid Unlimited we were constantly checking up on our buddy although he was still very shaken up and scared of human contact. However, we were assured that he would get better and we had a new found respect for the charity as, without them, this dog would most certainly still be on the street or, worse, dead.
As mentioned Animal Aid Unlimited are a non profit organisation and they are in need of as many donations as possible no matter how big or small. If you have a bit of money you can spare and would like to help them to continue their mission please do not hesitate to donate. I have included their website below which will also provide you with much more in depth information regarding their operations and the journey of the animals they help. As this is just one article I have focused on what I found to be most touching but there are so many aspects about this place which I could mention I would literally be here forever.