By Piu Sur*
When I met Bondi di (Vandana Dutta, Managing Trustee, Alliance of Animals and People – www.allianceofanimalsandpeople.org) she was my Director North East Region in CRY (Child Rights and You) Kolkata office. As I got to know her better each day, her love for dogs was beyond my comprehension. Even I had a pet but then she was overwhelmed by her dogs and always spoke about them as humans.
Not only was she passionate and totally involved with her own pets she was equally concerned about all the pets in Sarita Vihar in Delhi where she lived prior to recently having shifted to Kolkata. So besides office work and meetings all we got to hear about was about all the dogs that filled up her life.
So it was not surprising when she decided that after retirement she would open her own NGO and take care of dogs. Over calls I heard all the stories and struggles to get the NGO registered and getting the Corporation to co-operate to vaccinate, feed, give medical attention to the dogs and educate the people in every area to do the same as well as be more humane
Together Bondi di with Amita Kapur, Vishnupriya Bose, Sanjay Kher, Sharad Phalgun and Anoop Sood set out to build a better world for the street dogs. Their combined aim was to integrate lives of people and people beyond the conventional approaches of animal welfare. Everyone agreed that it was important to make our society responsible for a more humanitarian approach towards animals. It meant involving people from all walks of life including children, youth and adults.
With each day I watched and heard about the organisation growing. Then one day Bondi di decided to shift to Kolkata. I was thrilled. Soon she opened another chapter in Kolkata and I joined her endeavour though it was my son who was more like Bondi di wanting to do all they could for their street pets.
As a result of these influences in my life, I got totally involved in what was happening and agreed to take care of the education section while Bondi di took care of the feeding and medical attention. As a result of her constant effort the organization has been able to move on in spite of COVID. In Delhi as well as in Kolkata, there have been events with children, as well as number of school and community programs.
Every night around 8:30 pm, you will see her loaded with bags of food going out in search of the street pets in her area. She has named them all and will search them out from under parked cars and construction building sites. She never missed any of them. At times she also gets into squabbles with some resident about feeding the pets but there is no stopping her. By the time she is back it is past midnight.
In this time she also notes the ones who need medical attention and organizes with other NGOs to get them transported to hospital, if necessary. Rarely resting, she makes sure to gather food to each dogs taste in the morning, making sure they are cooked properly and getting ready to take care of the street pets even if it rains, is crazy hot or bitter cold. Always making sure that their water bowl has fresh clean water and the right medicine she is always there.
She leads us all by example by being humane towards all animals. A kitten has now recently joined the list of pets. This keeps her happy and energetic all through the day and is an inspiration for me as well as others who see her each day reaching out to the dogs and cats in the locality.
*Communication Consultant & Education Coordinator for Alliance of Animals and People (AAP)