This episode features an interview with Amar, an ardent pet-lover and a volunteer at Meet the Paws. Amar was encouraged to take care of animals by his parents. They had started by taking care of one injured dog; the number has now grown to 12 dogs, all of whom are being personally being taken care of by him. The neighbours in his area were unwilling to encourage him at first, but they gradually realized how safe it is to have dogs around.
Volunteer for a Cause is an NGO that observes December as ‘Volunteering Month’ and has exclusively designated Meet the Paws for animals/pets. But each month, the volunteers contact shelters in Bangalore to inquire if they need any help. Only dog shelters exist in the city while cat shelters are starting soon. These shelters have access to funds but struggle to get volunteers, that is why this team focuses on offering help at these shelters.
Bangalore is home to close to 10 shelters. The NGO team has visited seven shelters in all and regularly visits four of them. They spend a minimum of three hours at each shelter during a visit. Each shelter has around 50 dogs, most of them abandoned by their owners. Meet the Paws offers both adoption and rescue opportunities. The rescue team reaches the location when informed of abandoned dogs and conducts rescues. They later conduct adoption drives, though there is no specific place selected for these drives. These drives have been held at Marathalli, MG Road, and Kanakapura in the past.
When it comes to the health of the animals, each shelter has an appointed doctor who visits on a regular basis. The team has visited shelters at Kanakapura, Yelahanka, Sarjapura and Uttarahalli. Usually, these shelters are located on the city’s outskirts so that the pets can enjoy a peaceful environment. When it comes to food habits, non-vegetarian fare is recommended for these dogs as it is nutritious for them. However, each shelter follows its own standard about food.
There is a concept called ‘passive adoption’. It is not mandatory to take pets home to be able to take care of them. Animal lovers can also contribute to support the lives of dogs in other ways. Usually, every shelter is familiar with all the other shelters. Once, it so happened that a shelter with 30-40 dogs had to be closed down. They contacted 2-3 other shelters and the dogs were sent to them, instead of having them let out on the streets.
The Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme focuses on controlling the birth rate of dogs. Under the function, dogs are operated upon and taken care of for 2-3 days so that they do not contract an infection. They are later dropped off at the same location from where they had been taken. The programme was stopped a few times because the proper procedure wasn’t being followed. It is later when proper attention was being paid to the dogs after their operations that the routine was continued.
Meet the Paws’ Facebook page posts updates on open opportunities for volunteering, contributions, or any other help needed for animals. Amar concludes that animals are important for a healthy social life and learning to coexist with them is necessary. It is better to resolve any problems with the animals, instead of trying to eradicate them. Each home needs a pet and it is through these pets that Amar has been able to reduce his stress. According to him, having a pet is beneficial to humans both physically and psychologically.