Animal Rahat – Help for Animals in India

Animal Rahat
I hope you are well. Thanks to the wonderful people who actively support Animal Rahat, thousands of animals in India received vitally needed help last month. Also, some of our vets were beaten up by a mob, we started teaching farriers how to shoe horses without doing more harm than good, and much more. Among our rescues were three captive monkeys whose release required some fancy footwork.An Animal Rahat staffer spotted these female bonnet monkeys, who were being illegally tethered by chains. One was kept as a “pet” in front of a man’s house, and the other two were chained near a temple and forced to beg. One was a youngster—only 1½ years old—and the other two were over 20 years old. Who knows how many of those years they had spent in misery on a chain?

Chained Monkey
Chained Monkey

When we called local Forest Department officials (who have jurisdiction over captive wildlife issues), they refused to act, claiming the monkeys were just fine. It was risky to force the issue. Many Animal Rahat staff members live in the area. It would not have been safe for them to incur the wrath of local Forest Department officials or the monkeys’ owners. Fortunately, the Animal Rahat staffer who spotted the monkeys is also certified by the Animal Welfare Board of India as an Honorary Animal Welfare Officer. So it was with this title—as opposed to his position with Animal Rahat—that he identified himself when he presented photos of the monkeys to the local Forest Department office and insisted that they be confiscated.

A Forest Department official said that he would send two men to confiscate the monkeys. Unbeknownst to the two men, our staffer followed them and was angry—but not surprised—to see that the men simply went into a hotel lobby and sat there shooting the breeze. After 30 minutes, our staffer called their supervisor, who immediately collected the two men and then went to confiscate the two monkeys near the temple. Two down, one to go.

By the time they got to the third monkey, however, word had reached her owner. He had unchained her, shooed her away, and run away himself. Our staffer found the owner’s brother and explained the legal ramifications to him. The brother then called the owner, who returned, captured the monkey, and handed her over to the Forest Department officials.

It took cleverness and persistence, but mission accomplished! All three monkeys are now at a wildlife rehabilitation center where they will never be chained again.

Stopping Cart
Illegal Devices

At the annual, much-dreaded Chinchali Fair, our vets and helpers were hard at work, going without sleep to help the thousands of bullocks and ponies who were once again forced to pull cartloads of families to Chinchali—a journey that for many is more than 200 miles. Along the way, the animals are whipped and beaten, and they often suffer from dehydration, wounds, painful lameness, broken bones, muscle strains, and severe stress.

To spare as many animals as possible this marathon of misery, we hired buses to transport villagers to the fair. We are still tallying the total number of animals who were allowed to stay home and rest because of our buses, but we know it exceeded 1,300!

For those who were not so lucky, Animal Rahat set up rest camps along the routes to the fair and an on-site treatment camp at the fair itself. At these camps, almost 4,000 bullocks and ponies received food, water, and a much-needed respite, and more than 300 animals received veterinary care for medical problems, some severe. Our staff recorded video footage at these camps, which we are now editing. I will send you a link to that next month.

We also gained the cooperation of police officers, who issued citations for anti-cruelty violations, such as hitching ponies and bullocks together to pull carts (yokes made for bullock carts are damaging to ponies’ necks and cause uneven weight distribution), and we confiscated illegal devices. We took away more than 200 whips, pointed sticks, and yoke spikes.

Frighteningly, something happened this year that has never happened in our 13 years of Chinchali Fair interventions: A mob of bullock owners who were angry that the laws were being strictly enforced started beating up our staff—even lashing them with whips!

Fortunately, the perpetrators were arrested, and our staffers’ injuries were not life-threatening. Always thinking of animals, we will try to turn this “lemon” incident into lemonade! We’ll use it as best we can to strengthen our argument when we appeal to the Chinchali temple priest to ban the use of animals next year.

Quails Sold for Meat
Dog Pulling Child in Cart

Unfortunately, as you see every month, animal suffering abounds in rural India, and animals in dire circumstances are everywhere you turn. Animal Rahat never hesitates to take action. When one of our staffers spotted a young man trying to sell these two quail for meat (which is illegal), he immediately confiscated them and released them.

Another staffer promptly confiscated this cart after seeing a dog forced to bear the yoke and give rides to children. Dogs in rural India have enough problems—such as dangerous traffic, parasites, and a scarcity of food and water—without being forced to be “beasts of burden.”

Wire Snare on Dog's Leg
Meeting Bullock Owners

One such problem for dogs (and other small animals) is snare traps. Nomadic tribespeople often set wire snare traps on other people’s farmland in order to catch rabbits to eat. Hardly a month goes by in which we don’t come across a dog who has fallen victim to a snare. Luckily, we found this dog in time to remove the wire before it could do any serious damage.

We also set up shop at the Sangola Fair, where there is a bazaar at which bullocks are bought and sold. This is a great opportunity for educational outreach to bullock owners. After having spotted an owner trying to control a bullock by force, an Animal Rahat staffer demonstrated how to make the bullock more docile by grooming him with a brush, which is pleasant for the animal and increases his trust. Shown above is that staffer discussing this technique with a gathering of fairgoers. Great news: That bullock owner called our staffer a few days later to thank him. He said daily grooming sessions have made it possible for him to handle his bullock without using force. Hurray!

Our team also spoke to owners who had decorated their bullocks by covering them with colored powder called “gulal.” This powder can be made from oxidized metals or industrial dyes that cause everything from skin irritation to eye problems to cancer. Below, you can see owners washing off the pink powder from their bullock at Animal Rahat’s request.

Washing Bullock
Farriery Training

Hundreds of ponies and horses used to pull tongas (two-wheeled passenger carts) will be better off from now on, thanks to Animal Rahat’s farriery lessons. Farriery is the skill of shoeing horses, which also entails—or should entail—cleaning and trimming their hooves. The fact is that many traditional farriers in rural India do a haphazard job, often affixing shoes crookedly, using inappropriate tools, or driving nails in ways that cause pain.

Last month, Animal Rahat brought in a farriery expert and held training workshops for horse owners at tonga stands in numerous villages. The owners’ response was extremely positive—especially because they understood that proper shoeing is not only safer and kinder for the horses but also likely to lessen the chance that an owner will lose work because of a horse’s injury.

On behalf of all the animals who received vital help from Animal Rahat this past month—and the tens of thousands more whom we help throughout the year—thank you so much. With the generosity and compassion of our supporters, we are changing many people’s minds and changing many animals’ lives for the better.

Kind regards,

Ingrid E. Newkirk

P.S. Please consider donating to Animal Rahat today to help us improve conditions for—and decrease reliance on—working animals and to rescue animals who are being kept or sold illegally. Thank you.

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This e-mail was sent by Animal Rahat c/o Ravi Rajan & Co Pvt Ltd, 505A, 5th Floor, D-4, Rectangle 1, District Centre, Saket, New Delhi 110 017.



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