Please don't miss anything in this month's Animal Rahat report, including the donkeys who received help, the kitten down the well, and the snake rescue.
Nieuws bericht van Animal Rahat
I hope you're well. Please don't miss anything in this month's Animal Rahat report, including the donkeys who received help, the kitten down the well, and the snake rescue. It's a bit longer than usual because I thought it would be good, once in a while, to show you the sheer enormity of the organization's work.
First, some exciting news: Animal Rahat's electric rickshaw pilot program was officially launched this month. While the group normally works in rural areas, this program is focused in Old Delhi. In one of the most crowded cities on Earth, approximately 300 bullocks and 150 horses haul not only foodstuffs but also heavy lumber, metal, boxes of goods—the works. These animals work long hours in blistering heat, are never given remotely enough to eat, and are offered water only once a day. Many are blind, suffer from abscesses, or have sustained painful muscle or joint injuries. The ultimate goal is to make Old Delhi animal cart–free.
Animal Rahat has miraculously managed to strike up a relationship with the government with the goal of replacing these animals with electric rickshaws. The first 10 e-rickshaws went into service this month, which meant that the first several animals—five bullocks and five horses—were removed from the streets and have been retired to sanctuary homes!
I snapped the photo below last year when I was talking with cart owners in Old Delhi. The dear bullock shown here had lost one of his horns in a vehicle accident. Now, he's in a sanctuary relaxing, while an e-rickshaw pulls the heavy loads that he would've been forced to bear.
Transporting the bullocks to their new home at a sanctuary was tricky because political battles are taking place against cattle slaughter and any cattle transport is eyed with suspicion. Fortunately, slaughter is something that this bullock and his fellow retirees will never have to face.
Meanwhile, the horses arrived at Animal Rahat's sanctuary after a long journey and, as seen above, were greeted by the staff and Tommy, one of the group's consummate canine hosts.
And there are more new sanctuary residents to introduce you to.
A month ago, Animal Rahat diagnosed a bullock as having a partially dislocated shoulder and told his owner to give the animal at least a month's rest so that he could recover. The owner had been using his bullocks to haul heavy loads of sugarcane to a factory, so Animal Rahat helped arrange for the man to borrow a tractor for the rest of the harvesting season. However, it came to the group's attention that he did not have a reliable reputation (i.e., he was known to abuse alcohol), and team members were concerned that he wouldn't give the bullock enough time to recover before forcing him to work again. So they asked the man to swap his bullocks, Sonya and Gunya (pictured below), for financial help to buy a tractor.
Thanks to Animal Rahat, Sonya and Gunya are now permanent retirees at the group's sanctuary—hurray! They will never again stagger under a heavy yoke and are already making new friends.
The handsome pony above is Prashanth. He was being forced to pull a passenger cart while yoked to a bullock. This practice is illegal because yokes are harmful to ponies' necks and the two species' gaits are completely different. Also, in this case, the pony was smaller than the bullock, which meant that he was bearing almost all of the yoke's weight. To make matters worse, when the pair stumbled down the sloped side of a road, the pony's owner beat him. After witnessing this incident, Animal Rahat staff members gave the owner a choice: Either relinquish custody of the pony or face legal consequences. The owner agreed to release Prashanth, and now he's a permanent member of the Animal Rahat family.
Another new sanctuary resident is the beautiful calf, Sheila, pictured below. By the time someone notified Animal Rahat of her condition, she had been lying recumbent on the side of a road for three days! No one knew who she belonged to. Team members found that she had a high fever and was severely dehydrated, so they gave her intravenous fluids and took her to a goshala (cow shelter) to recover overnight, then transported her to the sanctuary. Having been just days away from death, she now has many happy years ahead of her.
No Animal Rahat update would be complete without rescue stories. While in the village of Shipur for a meeting, Animal Rahat staffers noticed a crowd of people looking down an 80-foot-deep well. They peered over, too, and saw that a kitten had fallen in and was trapped on a tiny ledge! (That's her in the photo above, in the red circle.)
At first, they tied a rope around a plastic tub, put some biscuits inside, and lowered the tub. The hungry kitten put her two front legs in the tub and ate the biscuits. Everyone watched with bated breath, hoping she'd get completely into the tub—but she was too wary and backed away. Time for plan B.
The team members rigged up their rappelling gear, rappelled down the well wall, snatched the kitten, and brought her to safety. Her owner was initially leery about Animal Rahat's request to spay the kitten (still an unusual concept in rural India) but eventually granted permission. The kitten was then spayed, kept in the Animal Rahat office for two days of recovery, and returned to her owner. These wells are (as you know) a constant problem, but there are thousands of them, and no workable solution to cover them or fill them in has been found.
While not all of Animal Rahat's rescue missions require daredevil measures, each one presents its own challenges. For example, while it is usually easy to recruit bystanders to assist in rescues, no one was eager to help rescue the cow pictured above because of where she was trapped: in a sewer pit. In India, only the lowest of castes will involve themselves with sewage.
Undaunted, Animal Rahat's rescue team members started digging out one side of the pit. Once they were underway, a few villagers bravely joined the effort. When the cow's owner was informed, he came and brought more volunteers. Soon, she was pulled to safety, examined by one of the veterinarians, and found to be free of injuries. Before leaving, the team urged the owner to keep her safe and explained that abandoning animals on the road is a punishable offense.
After discovering a snake who'd been punctured by a stick, which was still lodged in her body, a villager brought her to Animal Rahat's Solapur office for help. She was in bad shape, so one of the vets anesthetized her, gently removed the stick, administered a painkiller and antibiotics, and dressed the wound.
The animal was kept in the office for observation and follow-up treatment for a couple of days, during which time the team also removed more than a dozen almost microscopic ticks that were embedded in her scales. On the third day, the kind man who had found her took her back to his village and released her into the nearby jungle.
Over the past few years, Animal Rahat has been working with local police forces to crack down on bullock drivers at sugar factories who overload their carts and use illegal devices such as whips and yoke spikes. Last month, Animal Rahat persuaded the police to go all out, setting up road blocks near sugar factories and issuing tickets for all manner of infractions.
During one of these crackdowns, Animal Rahat staffers snapped the photo above. The bullock drivers—who are seasonal workers from villages far away—set up camp in fields adjacent to sugar factories. They and their families spend the season driving their carts back and forth from the sugarcane fields (where their wives cut and load the cane) to the factories.
Animal Rahat had that photo framed and located the driver at the camp the next day. Team members gave him the photo and pointed out all the things that the man had obviously not been paying attention to from his perch high above the bullocks' heads—that the bullocks were too thin, the black-and-white one (Rajya) was frothing at the mouth with thirst and stress, and his nose rope was painfully tight. The team gave the bullocks water and groundnut cake, a huge treat for them, and one of the vets examined them and advised the owner to take them home and allow them to rest for several weeks. The team also hung a copy of the picture in the police station to remind the officers of the good they can do when they stop overloaded carts.
Among the many animals who required emergency surgery last month was the donkey above, who had incurred severe face lacerations. Thanks to Animal Rahat's supporters, one of the group's vets was able to treat and suture the wound so that it could heal properly.
The team also vaccinated nearly 200 donkeys against tetanus last month (as the disease can result in a most unpleasant, prolonged death) and provided nearly 100 more with treatment for injuries, infections, lameness, and other ailments.
I could go on and on about Animal Rahat's accomplishments over the past month—e.g., the team sterilized 32 dogs, reached 477 students with Compassionate Citizen classroom presentations, and planted new trees at the sanctuary—but this letter is already long, so I will sign off and leave you with these lovely images from the sanctuary.
Below are recently rescued horses Jay and Sultan. They were once used in illegal races, but now they gallop of their own accord for the sheer fun of it.
And above is one of the sanctuary's retirees, Barshya, enjoying a mineral block. If he had any problems before, he's got 'em licked now! (Sorry.)
Through the generosity of kind donors, Animal Rahat is able to save lots of lives and relieve the pain of hundreds of animals every month. Thank you for caring about this important work.
Ingrid E. Newkirk
P.S. Please consider making a gift to Animal Rahat today to help the group replace working animals with mechanized vehicles, provide orphaned and abandoned animals with homes, and give crucial veterinary care to injured working animals and wildlife. Thank you.