“They Also Have Feelings”
By Asra Bajaj & Pranjal Tilak*
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened”, said Anatole France – something that we couldn’t agree with more!
Two teen girls from opposite parts of India on a mission to make an impact on promoting the concept of animal activism and animal welfare – not something you hear every day, right?
Mahatma Gandhi once said that the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. This pushed us to try and make a difference from our shoes. Animal welfare is something that is not taken seriously in our country; laws regarding animal abuse are taken as lightly as a joke, when they clearly shouldn’t be! Both of us have been working for animal welfare for a long time and want to make an impact on the thought process of Indian society.
Having met each other through a casual group chat, we interacted and discovered each others’ immeasurable love for animals. Doing something for them had always remained a thought, until one evening we just decided to go for it! We started ‘Paw Patitas’ on August 24, 2020.
Why ‘Paw Patitas’?
Because ‘Patitas’ translates to ‘enthusiasts’, thus meaning of the name stands ‘paw enthusiasts’ as both of us are avid animal lovers!
Well, this lockdown had a lot of disadvantages but it also had a positive side. Looking at extra amount of time on hand, we thought this was it. It led us to think about problems strays are facing in this situation, and we had to do something about it.
What if you see a person physically abusing a child? You would raise your voice and not just walk away, right?
Just like the child in that situation if you see a person harming an animal, would you still raise your voice?
Most of the people would just walk away because they don’t care. Why do we deprive animals of their fundamental rights?
Animal awareness is really an important concept. As Paw Patitas team, we are trying hard to spread awareness about animals through our posts and stories, since whenever people see an animal in distress 99% of them don’t know what to do. This is where our role comes into picture – giving guidance on the basics, beginning right from approaching animals and understanding them in order to understand how you can help them.
As we are underage and are not a registered organization yet, we are taking this process really slow, and waiting to build on things in order to get into gear by next year or so.
The abandonment of pets in recent times is nothing completely new, but something that needs attention as well as action. One of the main reasons pets are abandoned is lack of awareness on the part of pet owner. Nothing is clarified, checked, and inquired about before adoption, thus leading to complications and then abandonment. This is why we urge people to think, consider, and educate themselves before adopting pets or taking any such major steps. Other reasons may include sheer ignorance, lack of compassion and care, and in some cases impromptu health issues such as allergies to pets. In those cases, people often think about abandoning pets rather than considering giving them to another home. Gradually, we aim at making as many people aware about these stances as possible.
We not only aim at spreading awareness, but also educating people through our personal yet guided explanations. While spreading awareness, it’s important to keep in mind that audience can connect with what we’re talking about, reflect on it, and thus perceive it as something important as well as necessary. A wide range of topics are covered from basics of volunteering to advanced stages of medication along with day to day animal related topics such as animal abuse. We try to reflect our perspective in order to make our audience think twice before taking an animal related decision – be it using cruelty free products, or choosing adoption of a stray rather than purchase of a particular breed through their own understanding of the issue. We try to educate people in a way that they know the issues thoroughly and are able to pass these on to their peers and colleagues as well.
Overall, we aim at creating a world full of people with a solid set of beliefs and knowledge on each and every topic related to animal welfare.
Spreading awareness and educating people is only a part of what we do as a whole. We believe in hands on exposure and contribution, which brings us to opening our circle of volunteers. Till now, we have around 60 volunteers. We split our volunteers based on group timings, to make sure everyone’s convenience is considered and not only have briefing sessions for guidance but also have weekly discussions on a general topic to keep them engaged and encourage participation as well as interaction.
Now what is the role of these volunteers exactly and what do we do?
- Every alternate day, we have a few topics in our mind on which we send them information; this turns into a discussion as everyone is open to share personal views and experiences.
- Every weekend, we have weekly discussions through video calls or conference calls where we discuss about whatever we have accomplished throughout the week. We also have debates on particular agendas every weekend through video calls.
- We also invite various experts or professionals to join these weekly discussions once in a while to gain insight.
- As we haven’t started with donation process yet, we are not able to provide them all the material. Thus, they are made aware of how they can contribute from their side.
- Volunteers are mainly expected to participate and interact, and then contribute after a good amount of awareness.
- We understand that not every volunteer is comfortable around an animal. This brings us to our concept of indirect volunteering. Those who can’t go and personally feed strays, they can help us in pitching for resources and spreading awareness. Or maybe if one is comfortable and one is not, then one of them can pay for the feeding process and the other one who is comfortable around them can go and feed them. Thus in this scenario, we introduce the ideology of connecting our networks and building communication skills among volunteers staying in the same area, who may aid each other through various resources (one for transport, one for food, and so on). We supervise direct communication between volunteers in various fields to ensure that the process runs smoothly. Not only does this encourage contribution, but also benefits the animal as well as volunteer in a number of ways – there is no extreme strain on one volunteer and at the same time, needs of the animal are also taken care of.
The adoption and fostering process is one that we handle with extreme care. When we receive an adoption enquiry, we run background checks to make sure that the family is suitable to adopt an animal. People who adopt and foster are given detailed guidance before as well as during the process to make sure that whatever is done promotes welfare of the animal.
In case of adoption from our own bunch of streeties, we also take care of basic pre-adoption procedures such as vaccination and spaying, which are of utmost importance for the well being of an animal. Not only do we work from personal experience, but also get guidance from experts and professionals on regular basis, thus guaranteeing reliability as well as authenticity. Till now, we have shared and encouraged multiple adoptions of other organizations and had our very own successful adoption as well!
As both of us are in 12th grade, we have a number of limitations on what and how much we can work, and how much time we can dedicate to our initiative. Thus, we’ve come up with a rough idea of our future plans. Once we attain legal age, we are going to be open to donations that will be used for care and treatment of animals. We are looking forward to conducting various workshops and programmes based on animal activism, as well as collaborating with other organizations and conducting events for the benefit of our beautiful animals.
Even though both of us are from different states of India, we do not limit our network and circle to these cities. We encourage those who are interested, not only throughout India, but all over the world too! We’ve already spread our networks to other cities and states and are looking forward to growing together with time!
*Authors are Founders of Team ‘Paw Patitas’.