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Maybe some of you know that I’m a jazz singer, maybe some of you don’t.  I’m not bringing that up randomly, there is a reason why I mention this. During the pandemic, I ended up making a bunch of virtual jazz videos with musicians from Russia, Argentina, France, Italy…  all over the world really. And oddly, as I got to know the musicians, I discovered that there are streeties / rescue dogs everywhere. Many of my online musician friends had dogs under their feet as they played for me. It felt so good to know this. One such person I met is Beat Kaestli, (pronounced Bay-At Kae-Slee) who is originally from Switzerland and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is a marvellous jazz vocalist, a passionate dog lover and trainer. My favourite kind of human combo.He has spent time working for many animal shelters in NYC… placing hard-to-adopt doggies in good homes… and you know how hard that is. It was really wonderful to talk to him on FaceTime. One of the big takeaways for me was that as humans who love dogs, we must constantly advocate for them. Even little things like telling a guest in your house not to make eye contact with your dog if it’s a nervous animal. Or telling a newcomer not to bear down with outstretched arms holding treats, but rather to toss them in front.  Things that make so much sense, once you think about it.Beat trains dogs in NYC who are possibly more stressed than dogs in other parts of America, from the sheer pressure of humanity living one on top of the other in tall buildings. Constant stimulation and constant noise. Not really having much privacy or open space.His company is 3for3DogTraining.com, focusses socially challenged, under-socialized, fearful (in parentheses.. rescue) dogs, with a history of abuse or neglect. If you have an internet connection… he’ll help you. 
I first met Bismi Anil about 6 years ago when my streetie Brownie had disappeared. Vanished. I hunted for her for a month and gave up hope. Then a girl I knew on FB posted a picture of a doggie that looked so much like a little Brownie that I had to have her. So we trudged all the way to Whitefield from Cooke Town… a two hour drive each way… to find that this little doggie didn’t want to come home with me. She ran up a winding staircase and peered at me suspiciously from the top. I was crushed.Until I found some a warm and squiggly wet tongue licking my ankles. It was kara. Love at first sight. Kara and her mom and sisters were being looked after by Bismi. But she was doing much more than that. She was cooking and feeding about 150 dogs  n the Whitefield area while holding down an IT job and the rest of her life.Over the years her priorities shifted and now she’s into doggie welfare and rescue and feeding, while maintaining a business that caters to dogs. Literally. She bakes delicious stuff for dogs. The company is called DumasBakesNMeals.com. They use no artificial foods / colouring and other bad stuff in their food at all. They are in Bangalore, but I have had dog cookies delivered in Chennai once.Oh, the cakes and cookies look positively beautiful too… which is great for humans.DID YOU KNOW?Did you know that many foods, inhalants, spices, medicines that human beings ingest regularly with positive effects, can be toxic and perhaps fatal for dogs? Depending on dosages of course.Essential oils for example… eucalyptus , tea tree, cinnamon, citrus, peppermint, pine, ylang ylang are no good for dogs. Their noses are more sensitive than hours. So I’d say ditch the infusers if you’re a pet parent.No ibuprofen or acetaminophen or methyl salicylate or paracetamol. All this stuff is bad for dogs. So no Brufen, no Dolo please Same with human antidepressants. Don’t give your dog your gabapentin or pregabalin just because you thing the doggie is anxious. You could kill it. And here’s a list of food items that are bad for your dog. Alcohol. A for Alcohol.Avocado – yes. It causes diarrhoes in dogs.Macadamia nutsGrapes and raisinsXylitol. The sugarfree stuffTomatoes, mushrooms and most seeds and nuts. They are not good for dogs.Chocolate. Especially dark chocolate contains methyl xanthines that cause vomiting and even death depending on the quantity. Coffee and caffeine are also bad for dogsAnd how about plants? Did you know that Azaleas and Rhododendrons contain toxins that are not good for dogs. Same with tulips and daffodils. Seeds from sago palms are especially bad. Eating just a few seeds may be enough to cause vomiting, seizures, and liver failure.So be careful what you have around your house and garden and Google, Google Google
ALAI (Animal Lives Are Important) is a dog rescue organization, about 5 years old here in Bangalore.  Well it’s not in the city, but in a place called Mitganahalli about 15 kms from the heart of town. It’s well known in dog rescue circles in this city and Sajesh, the founder is legend. If you talk to people in Electronic City, or the Nandi hills and other outlying areas of this city, beyond the limits of the BBMP, where veterinary clinics and hospitals are scarce, people talk about Sajesh in the same way they talk about God. Not kidding here.Back in November of 2021, Bengaluru recorded 224 mm of rainfall, that’s 329% above normal. The city was flooded and the rain continued to pour for days and the situation was horrendous. If you’re from Bangalore, maybe you remember this One night, November 21, specifically, Facebook pictures started revealing a horrible situation. ALAI was getting flooded. About 300 plus animals were getting soaked with nowhere to go because they were confined in the shelter. Sajesh and his staff spent the better part of the night recuing the animals one by one. The city of Bangalore and indeed other parts of the country pitched in with funds, volunteers and a lot more to help Sajesh secure each and every animal. It was a dreadful night, one Sajesh will never forget.I have been trying to reach Sajesh for a while, but like other rescuers, his time is never his own. There’s always some animal with an emergency to shove me to the back of the queue, so I’m really happy to have finally netted him. 
Prestige Golfshire, in the Nandi Hills, is possibly one of Bangalore’s most beautiful residential areas. 275 acres of landscaped villas, with an 18-hole golf course, pool, tennis courts and other wonderful amenities that make life just special, besides being close to the airport and not that far from the heart of the city.But this is not a real estate commercial. This is about what’s happening at around, oh, let’s say knee level. Yes. It’s about dogs. Ownerless, rudderless, street and village dogs that come on to this pristine property from around the many villages nearby and wander around, unaware of the next golf ball that could crack their skull. Life is unpredictable and scary if you’re a street dog no matter how upscale the neighbourhood. Fortunately for the streeties at Prestige Golfshire, there’s a lady named Anju Nanavati who lives there, zipping around in her little car plastered with pictures of doggies all over, as she gaily and joyfully tends to their needs. She knows all the dogs and they know her.Although Anju and her husband moved there presumably to lead the quiet, retired life, at least for Anju, it’s been nothing but that. She has spent the last few years, including the lockdown, trying to fix all the problems of as many dogs as she possibly can, not only in the community, but slowly expanding to the villages in the vicinity, one, two, three and more. Anju says her husband Ajay has been of huge support to her as she spreads the word. And that word of course is ‘woof’. 
If you’re taking care of street dogs in Bangalore, I guess anywhere in India, it’s a heart breaking, pocket emptying, frustrating but ultimately very rewarding and joyous experience. Once you begin taking care of streeties… you mostly cannot stop. It becomes a lifelong addiction.  Because these dogs are on the street, they are way more susceptible to road accidents, pack fights, diseases and so on that your pet dog is mostly spared.So sometimes, even the most logical and rational human being is driven to despair and flailing helplessly.  It happened to me on one occasion about three years ago when our community dog Toby was listless, apathetic and wouldn’t eat. He had an angry tumour in his mouth. We took him to Cupa, where the wonderful and caring late Dr Vishal did a bunch of tests and scans etc.  He told us that Toby had cancer and the chances of his survival were non-existent. There were no meds as such, except pain killers which we agreed to administer. He had a week, tops, Dr Vishal guessed.We brought Toby back home and he promptly ran away, we assumed to find a quiet place to die. Around that time, I met Poornima Harish, my guest today. Another friend had told me she was an animal healer and that I should mention the situation with Toby to her. I thought to myself, what the heck, why not? What do I have to lose?Poornima asked me to send a picture of Toby and then text her every day so she could heal him. Alright I said, and texted her diligently for about two weeks. I wrote cute messages and poems. Toby hadn’t come back. I was hoping in vain I knew, and yet something made me persist with this charade.And then about two weeks later our watchman came rushing in yelling excitedly. Toby 'Aa Gaya. Toby Bandidare. Toby is back.'And bloody hell if he wasn’t back, no sign of a tumour in his mouth,. Hale, hearty and a waggedy tail. Coincidence? Is that Poornima’s middle name? I don’t know. 
When I first started podcasting The Indie Dog, one of the first stories was about a little dog named Inkling and a lovely lady named Vinita Rabbi.A little background: Inkling’s mother was Inky, and her uncles we believe, were Pinky and Ponky. Yes I named them, because I saw the three of them one night, and had to come up names quick, so I could report their presence in Cooke Town on our dog squad Whatsapp Group.This was during lockdown and before we could get these three spayed, along came Inkling, Inky’s puppy.Poor Inkling had been run over by a car and was discovered in a terrible state in Milton Street Park, by Vinita’s husband. She was taken to CARE by squad members, where she was tended to and returned to the streets in a few months.But she wasn’t able to live on the streets in her feeble condition, a disabled leg and timid personality. Other dogs on the street were only too happy to pick on her and make life miserable. Of course, Vinita offered to take her in, so she could be friends with her other dog.Happy end to sad story you thought? Not so fast.Vinita’s landlady a dog hating curmudgeon chased Vinita and her family out as quickly as she could. The following is an update from Vinita, in a Whatsapp message to The Frazer Canine Squad, and I quote:“Inkling has turned her back to living on the streets. I would like to thank all in the FCS for the support and being with me through the ordeal. Our landlady was the meanest person. She just could not tolerate the dogs, especially inkling. She was abusive too and forced us to vacate. We have found an independent house near Ascension church, which is good for our doggies, Kubo and Inkling. They love it here. It's peaceful and spacious. I do feed Inky, once and day, early around 6:30 am when I take Inkling for a walk. They also get to catch up with each other. I do not feed her brothers, Pinky and Ponky. They do not come to our new place because there are other dogs on this street. Right now we have found peace. We are a happy family again, happier because of inkling. “End QuoteWell, this week, I’m not interviewing anyone. This episode is a tribute to Toby – The Gentleman of Milton Street.I don’t know where Toby’s story started exactly, but by the time it ended, there were at least a hundred people in Cooke Town, my neighbourhood, who knew him, loved him, fed him, patted him, gave him belly rubs and ran to his rescue when he got ill, dropping all their other activity.He had that effect. Which brings me to the reason why this episode of The Indie dog is dedicated to Toby. Taking care of street dogs in a community does more than satisfy one’s own karmic needs. It actually creates a common cause where people can unite. Creating a common ‘enemy’ is fairly common. It’s a tool employed by despots, dictators and perpetrators of world wars to whip up frenzy and polarize the public, usually to attack some minority, some imaginary threat.Toby was a polarizer in the community, for sure, but for exactly the opposite reasons. He provided a focus for people to love. Also give vent to their feelings of intense adoration. This includes baby talk, treats, cuddles, belly rubs and so on, which everyone knows releases endorphins and makes you feel good. Toby gave Cooke Town all this free therapy for several years. His fans could approach him for a session and go back home and not have to worry about regular feeding, medical issues and so on.Ramjee (my significant Other and I and our household staff) took care of those needs since his primary place of residence was outside our gate on Milton Street. We live exactly opposite the park which was also Toby’s haunt. We came into Toby’s life I suppose in the middle of it. He appeared out of the blue some seven years ago, already a full
There’s something about the street dog community that feels like one belongs to a very special, very loving, very intimate family, even if you’ve just met someone. You can tell just by the work they do in rescue - rehab - fostering - healing or fund raising, that the connection is strong.Some months ago, my niece Arundhati Krishnan asked me to come to a puppy adoption camp run by Anwesha Majumdar… who is a little buzzing dynamo … she runs an organization Indie Tales of Hope…. And she’s been on The Indie Dog before.Answesha had gathered squealing puppies from all over the city, who had been brought to the centre of town by the canine squads in that area, so they could get adopted.It was there I met an adorable puppy named Snow and his human Elvis. Could be this human’s name and my connection to music… or it could be that Snow jumped on me and started kissing me like I was his best friend… but we started talking. I tried not to fall in love with Snow because I have enough street dogs at home.Elvis told me he belonged to the Electronic City K9 Squad. And since I don’t really go to Electronic City much, I was surprised. It’s a glittering, glitzy, high-tech area of Bangalore, which calls itself India’s answer to Silicon Valley. I didn’t think such areas would have streeties running all over, because it was so posh.But I was wrong. Elvis and his friends had rescued, fed, spayed and taken care of hundreds of dogs. The fact that corporate bigwigs in the area… companies like Infosys, Wipro, TCS and many, many organisations didn’t  think it was their responsibiity to get involved in street dog issues in the city struck me as odd.I wanted to talk to Elvis… but he instead told me to go straight to the leader, the boss, the man who made all thing possible for streeties in Electronic City, Paul Goswami.…How To Join A K9 Squad In BangaloreDid you know that the K9 squads were first set up by Priya Chetty Rajagopal a few years ago, because she realized that taking care of street dogs is a local, or as she says a ‘hyper local’ issue. She feels that if each person who loves streeties dogs tries to help a dog in their own street or neighbourhood…  the problem can soon be solved. There are some 20 K9 squads already… besides Electronic City, there’s Ulsoor, There’s Indiranagar, There’s Frazer Town, there’s Hennur, there’s Jayanagar… the lost is long and it’s close to you.Type www.bit.ly/SquadJoin and you’ll be taken to a simple and easy to fill form. Once u do that, the admin people will welcome you to the dog rescue and rehab community in your area with open arms and then your life never be the same again.That’s a very good thing.
Warning: this is a very graphic and heartbreaking story. You may not be able to stomach the details. Just saying. It’s a story about medical and surgical heroism combined with human beings who refused, point blank, to let a streetie go.I’m talking to Archana Sreenivasan today. She’s an artist, illustrator and animal rescuer. She used to be a resident of Cooke Town, and an active feet-on-the-street member of the Frazer Town Canine Squad… But at one point, sometime during the pandemic, when the numbers of streeties seemed to be growing beyond imagination… and if you are part of this community… you know what I mean… she reached a point where she had to stop. She was overwhelmed by the activity and the non-stop demands on her.But this is not a story about Archana’s breaking point. It’s about a doggie named Durga (named after the warrior goddess) who has defied many, many, many odds to live a lovely life with her mommy Archana.I hope this story inspires you… and if you can’t listen it fully, spoiler alert, there’s a happy ending.And we’re also talking to our favourite animal rights lawyer Alwyn Sebastian who simplifies the process of filing an FIR
Now this is a podcast about The Indie Dog and one might think that it has only to do with native Indian dogs. But actually, it’s about dogs in India that fend for themselves on the streets for many reasons. Some are born on the streets and these dogs have a slightly better chance of survival because of inherited abilities. But many dogs are just dumped, because their owners have had it. Dogs with pedigrees, dogs with lineage, dogs that have been bought at great cost. Dogs that guarded and protected people. Dogs that are basically expendable.  In this episode I’m talking to Kam Raghavan who runs a shelter called #PugSOSIndia.  It’s the country’s first rescue sanctuary for abandoned, owner-surrendered and/or confiscated pugs. Kam and her friends setup this NGO to work towards education & awareness about the Pug-breed.Why are so many pugs being abandoned? Kam will explain the many reasons, but I’d say the main one is ignorance. Ignorance of the insurmountable health problem that this grotesquely inbred class of dogs has been subject to, through a few hundred years. But Kam is doing more than looking after abandoned pugs. She’s also looking after some 400 dogs that were abandoned when the HMT factory in Jalahalli shut shop and some 600 families were asked to leave their homes almost overnight. One thing led to another and Kam now finds herself with hundreds of dogs, shelters, a vet clinic and the unenviable job of managine all of this. Oh, and she has a full-time corporate job and two little kids. How does she do it?
If there’s one thing about adopting a doggie or two and raising them… it’s that nothing is ever predictable. Especially in a city like Bangalore where dogs can disappear without the slightest warning. People will dognap them knowing you’ll pay ransom. Or they’ll just wander off... especially streeties who remember the freedom of the open road. Sometimes the noises of our multicultural, fire cracker-led religious holidays and birthdays of politicians… well they just drive dogs berserk. And they run away.Getting them back is a nightmare. It happened to me back in 2016 and for a month I inspected the streets of my ‘hood with a magnifying glass looking for Brownie. I kept widening the search circle. I didn’t give up. After three weeks, my friends and  family insisted she was dead. They kept saying I should stop looking, get a hold of myself and move on. But then I found an animal communicator. Yes indeed. An animal communicator in Chennai who told me that in fact, Brownie was alive, and trying very hard to find me. At the time I didn’t believe her at all. I’m not spiritual, I’m not kindly, I’m not religious. I just believe in the now. The communicator got my hopes up for a bit… and then after a week of that I finally gave up looking for Brownie, reconciling myself to the fact that she was gone. We adopted Kara.And the very next day, who should turn up, but Brownie. Yes. So today, I’m talking Kamakshi Jasra Sharma, who just a few months ago, helped the Indiranagar Canine Squad  find Lola… a doggie that went missing.  Animal communicators use telepathy, finely tuned empathy, a photograph and other things I do not understand to locate missing animals. I’ve heard this story at least a dozen times in Bangalore. 
This year  in February, there was a big deal being made of the date 02-02-2022. Many people thought it was a lucky date. But if you were you were a doggie named Duke it was the worst possible day for you.  Duke  was lost… alright let's call it what it is… he was bloody abandoned on Wheeler Road Extension, around the Village Supermarket, here in Bangalore. Someone driving a dark blue car hit Duke straight on, despite the very bright streetlights and despite the fact that it was actually very easy to avoid him, as he was walking pretty much on the side of the road, and not in the way of oncoming traffic. Duke was pushed along the road for a few meters by the car, meaning the psychopath did not stop, did not pause, didn’t even pay attention… he just carried on.How do I know this? I saw the CCTV footage from The Village Supermarket on the Frazer Town Canine Squad What'sApp group.  So did many people, including the cops. But till now (and this is now May 2022) … we haven’t been able track the monster down. Maybe the cops have access to superior video cleaning software and maybe they can easily find out who the culprit was, but it doesn't seem like they are interested.It’s not a real crime… at least, it’s not a crime worthy of punishment.  So it’s mostly a waste of time for the cops. There’s no jail time involved and the fine is something of a joke. Fifty rupees. Abandoned / stray / street dogs have no value as beasts of burden. I’m speaking to Arundathi Somaiah who is one of three trustees of the NGO FluffyNut (named for two dogs named Fluffy and Nut). They host adoption drives for rescued animals, raise funds for rescuers who always need money for medical treatment, food and other supplies. Arundhati happened to be walking outside the Village Supermarket exactly at the moment when Duke was hit.I’m also speaking to Pamela Parashar, who works at VOSD (Voice Of Stray Dogs) a most amazing NGO that provides shelter for hundreds of abandoned animals, located just a little outside Bangalore. Pam is a long-time animal lover and gets emotional when she talks about animals who are hurt. It’s very hard to work in an animal rescue and rehab environment because you are faced with unspeakable cruelty and inhuman behaviour all the time. Arundhati and Pam do it with a smile. I don’t know how. 
In 2022, for some reason, right after the pandemic, there have been a number of deliberate acts of violence against the street dogs of Bangalore. From CCTV cameras we have been able to determine that the culprits are often young men. Cruelty to animals (and other children) starts at a very young age, sometimes three or four year. The very same age where it’s possible, with the right intervention, the right role models and therapy, we could be instead creating a future of compassionate, animal loving adults. There are people already doing this… Strays Matter in Richard’s Town has The Indie Ninjas a group of teenagers heavily into animal welfare, FluffyNut in East Bangalore also has a large group of young volunteers.So I thought I’d speak to Bangalore’s most famous and best loved child psychiatrist Professor Shekhar Seshadri, who has done wonders for the country’s vulnerable children at India’s premier mental health institute NIMHANS. The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences. Dr Seshadri has over 35 years of experience dealing with children and young adults, and if there’s anyone in Bangalore who can figure out how to nip it in the bud… if that’s possible… it’s him.I ask him how we can catch them young and teach them well. 
On the 23rd of February, 2010 a posh residential building in Bangalore named Carlton Towers caught fire. There were many, many illegal aspects in the construction of that building… and as a result the fire engines were unable to get to all the residents in time. Several lives were lost that day, and many people were left injured. Some irrevocably scarred for life.Maneesha Ramakrishnan and her two small sons were in that building. They watched people jump to their death… as they feared for their own lives. They were finally rescued at 5:15 in the afternoon.Her sons were not physically affected, but they carry the mental impact to this date.  For Maneesha, the smoke she inhaled left her vocal cords permanently constricted. She’s had multiple surgeries to try and fix this… but nothing has worked. She has to breathe through a tube surgically implanted in her larynx. It’s called a tracheostomy tube and it has to be changed once in four months… forever.When I met Maneesha a few weeks ago, it was not to talk about this life-altering incident, but to find out why she had decided to feed 44 dogs every day. And why she was doing this despite all the injuries to her body and soul.Oddly I met Maneesha on Feb 23rd, 2022, exactly at 5:15, twelve years after the incident, and at the exact moment she was rescued. She was resplendent in a glittery saree and brought me tuberoses which are my most favourite flower in the whole world.We did not know each other at all… but now, I feel I’ve made a friend for life. I like to think that dogs change people’s lives… always for the better. 
Harini Raghavan is an HR professional with a deep passion for animals. She is extremely active in advocating for the rights of animals. That’s another way of saying, she lobbies and cajoles and pleads with the government to do their job, please, did you hear me say please.Harini and a few other people set up Citizens for Animal Birth Control (ABC), which is an organization.  The key here is not the word ‘organization’ but the word ‘Citizens.’ Because it is mandated by the government that ABC must be carried out locally in each city by the authorities… in our case, the BBMP. There are funds allocated for this and there is plenty of know-how on methods to do it effectively.But it ain’t happening. At least, not with the kind of systematic and single-minded focus that is needed. And so reproduction continues to happens under our noses, because all it takes is one sperm.If u consider that one female can, conservatively, litter twice a year in the course of its lifetime of reproductive capability, of say 6 years. that’s at least 12 puppies x 6 years or 72 puppies per female. It boggles the mind to think of where that will lead. Harini says there are still 3 hundred thousand dogs in this city that need to be sterilized. She’s asking for only 70% of that to be fulfilled. It will make a dent, she feels. 
Vaibhav Mungole worked in the IT industry for maybe a dozen years. A dozen too many. He was fed up. He wanted to get out of town, maybe move to a small village, a farm, something, anything to get out of the city.But other forces were at work.Specifically, a doggy named Eddy, that came into Vaibhav’s heart and soul about ten years ago.The area of Bangalore they lived in didn’t have dog parks where Vaibhav could provide Eddy with a chance to socialize or play with doggies of his ilk. Eddy was a lab.Vaibhav says he had no choice but to let his dog socialize with the local streeties in his ‘hood.This is extremely unusual behaviour, IMHO because most people with a ‘pedigree’ dog won’t allow them to mingle with the riff raff.Eddy had clue that he was privileged and high on the totem pole of doggie hierarchy. So he gladly mingled, socialized, sniffed butts and made lots of friends. And then a strange thing happened. Vaibhav started to notice and document all kinds of information about streeties that wasn’t written down anywhere at all. He became an expert on Indie dog behaviour, especially the psyche of #TheIndieDog.So much in fact, that pretty soon his friends began referring all their dog issues to him. They also realised that if Vaibhav quit town, they’d be stuck with a bunch of unruly mutts; so they convinced him to stay and turn his new passion into a business. He started a company called ‘Dogs Can Do It.’ Vaibhav is a canine behavioural consultant. He points out that there is a world of difference between a dog trainer and a dog behaviour specialist. 
Mehvash Arslan has been a resident of Cooke Town for the past 10 years or so. She works in an NGO that helps small businesses like the local tea walla, or the isthri lady.  But her involvement is unusual. She has accidentally… or deliberately… found herself rescuing older, very sick, severely disabled, even blind dogs, usually without much chance of survival. Sometimes these dogs make it and sometimes they don’t. But that doesn’t stop Mehvash from turning her world upside town to give some dog a final few happy months.It’s a rare disposition.This story is not only about Mehvash and her friends. It’s about communities in Bangalore that are willing to come together for a dog… to raise money, foster a dog, to hunt for a dog,  to rush to the hospital… always in the middle of the night… now why is that… it’s because street dogs come out when they perceive it’s safer… that is humans are asleep… but sadly it’s also when cars whizz around at top speed.Rescue and rehab work for dogs is like being in the arts: it’s is a passion and doesn’t come with a paycheck. She is shy to talk about her work with dogs. She doesn’t see it as unusual or even podcast-worthy. But I beg to differ. We begin with the story of Luke. Luke is important to this podcast, because he demonstrates how a community CAN come together for a cause, and also that there are people who will willingly upturn their life for a dog they happened to find on the street.
Vera DeJong is an artist. And her husband George Penner is a baker and jam maker. They are not doctors. They haven’t been to vet school or nursing school. But if you listen to these stories, puppy after puppy, I swear you’ll want them by your side if your dog has a medical emergency. For a decade or more, with intuition, mindfulness, empathy, YouTube and Google, they have they’ve saved the lives of hundreds of puppies, because there was no vet available in those beautiful hills of Kodaikanal, in Tamil Nadu.From bottle-feeding two-day old puppies, to learning how to insert GI tubes on YouTube, to bringing Lazarus back from the dead, Vera DeJong and George Penner have given many puppies a chance at life Of course, word gets around and people in Kodi (strangers and friends) have taken to dropping off abandoned litters at their house… just because they know Vera and George will handle it. For Vera it’s a (pardon the pun) ‘uphill’ battle, but she’s not giving up.
When I first Saakshi Kewalramani, she wasn’t quite 17 and she was already heavily into animal rescue, rehab, feeding and, fund raising. This is now almost two years later and Saakshi wants to be a veterinary surgeon. She is trying to gather practical experience before she joins school next year.  This is the story of a little very mauled and mangled dog named Nexa that Saakshi found in the army quarters near where she lives. It’s the story of a struggle for life while losing an eye and a leg. It is most uncommon for puppies like that to find love and a home. But not if a clever plan is hatched so you can get presented to Saritha Hegde, who used to lead the fancy high-life working for Tommy Hilfiger until she chucked it all up to start a company (with her mothership – her words) called Not Just Hot, which produces bottled spices She is now the proud mommy Nexa who has been renamed of Munchi. Munchi is featured in the fabled Frazer Town 2022 calendar, draped on golden cushions and satin bed covers. She is a very fancy dog.
In many part of the world, if there’s an animal in trouble, there’s someone to call to get help, Immediately. That’s not the case here for obvious reasons. We can barely take care of our humans… so expecting special treatment for animals is unrealistic. Yes, there are numbers for Cupa, Care, the BBMP, other animal shelters, but there’s so much pressure on them with the number of domesticated, freely multiplying animals… that they cannot cope. You could end up waiting forever. The animal could be dead or disappear by the time someone shows up, to die somewhere else, out of sight. It’s tragic.So it’s fallen on citizens, community by community to come together to create solutions for injured dogs and cats… and even the occasional snake who may find itself where it ought not to be.So you will find specialist dog catchers, snake catchers, bird catchers. Rarely will you find one person who is all kinds of catcher rolled into one.In Bangalore, Vikash Bafna is one such person whose heart is huge and there always seems to be room for one more dog, one more snake, one more pigeon, one more rodent, one more cat, one more buffalo to rescue.As part of several animal squads and groups, Vikash Bafna. Vikash does this work for free. He has a trust called Friend For Animal Trust and will accept donations, if you want to give, but even if you don’t, he will come and take care of the eagle that’s stuck in the wires outside your building. 
Now, more than ever in Bangalore, the impunity with which drivers in expensive cars seem to playing some sort of murder-for-fun game with street dogs, the number of dog-hit-and-run cases is steeply rising. We – all of us in the streetie community – need to make ourselves familiar with aspects of the law and statutes on animals so that we can bring pressure to bear on the police, legislature and judiciary. The punishment has to match the crime.Hospital costs for injured animals is not cheap… and we who care for animals are spending huge amounts of money from our pockets to pay for the barbaric acts of a few.Today I talk to Alwyn Sebastian, is possibly Bangalore’s most famous animal rights lawyer, young as he is. It wasn’t that he started out wanting to study  animal rights law… it wasn’t even a ‘thing’ then. Slowly but surely, he found himself volunteering here and there with the number of cases of abuse and neglect on the rise. So then he decided he would get a Post Graduate Diploma in animal protection laws.He explains the gradual change in animal rights in India over the years. From laws that only related to animals as people’s property, it’s now evolving to recognize animals as sentient beings, capable of feelings.What’s more as human beings continue to encroach on their territory, we have a duty under Indian law to protect them.
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