“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened”, said the great French poet, journalist and novelist, Anatole France.
We came across an organization which is one of a kind which loves animals and revolves around taking care of them.
We interviewed Fiyana Elavia who is the director of ResQ at Pune.
What is ResQ all about and how does it all work?
ResQ was basically started with the main aim to reduce human animal conflict. It is not only an animal based organisation and we do aim at overall improving the human and animal relationship in the city and the reason it was started ten years ago. It completed its 10 years this year. The founder realised that there is no organisation in the city that is working for stray animals. Instead of pointing fingers at anybody, they decided that they should do something themselves. They took that in themselves to start at grassroot level and learn things themselves so they can be useful to these animals and they joined veterinary clinic and train nurses as parameds so they could do this medical care with their own hands by having only the veterinary doctor on phone and getting instruction by them. They got a helpline number so that people could reach them if animal was in need so that somebody could call in case of injured animal that had no way to care for them and this slowly grew. We decided to move to different system where the person can report their animal through the phone on a link where they can attach the photograph and write a message like what has happened to animal. They can attach the gps location. This helps us to do everything in a more systematic manner compare to one person answering all day. It just grew as an idea and now has become a center where we have 270 animals at a time and we have a full fledged team that works for this day and night, ambulances and everything.
Around how many people are here in the team?
There are about 30 people currently and most of them work throughout the week without leaves because we are still short-staffed and even we operate 24 hours essentially for animals that need emergency and if an animal is reported at night and just had wound that can wait till tomorrow, we don’t go for treatment but if the animal just had accident and just had bleeding or have need of emergency care, our staff does go at night. Our ambulance functions work at night. The parameds stay here and attend these emergency cases and doctors are on the call all night so that we can be available for these cases who need that immediate care. The ideal strength should be more because amount of load that has come in.
So people work here on full time basis?
Yes, they work here full time.
Do you have any volunteers?
Yeah we do have volunteers but they essentially function for non-operational duties because daily running organisation cannot function with volunteers currently because time commitment is not there, people have their own lives and their own duties and responsibilities to cater and volunteering becomes secondary thing for them, and because we deal with so many lives we don’t want to miss something and it has to be done whether that person is there or not there. Volunteer usually come and train and help us with dressing and you know helping us to socialising an animal, walking the animal bathing the animal that enrichment and socialisation is.
As you told that this center started two years ago. Before that it was not the center and we were working with ambulance. So what are the challenges that you have faced to come up with this center to acquire this place and started all this?
This place was donated to us by somebody who saw our work all these years and they donated this piece of land because of the amount of work we are doing. They thought we can do it better if we have our own space and we always worked taking baby steps and never going directly to something big because it is always better to stay in your means and what you can with resources and best possible with your resources do what you have. The caseload never stops because there is not any other organization working on stray animals and with the amount of accidents that happen on roads and pedigrees are abandon with injuries, amounts of large number animals that need help. As per the need, our resources grew and we tried to grow. We could do much more if we have the resources and we try to stay in our limit and try to do best what we can. Sustainable funding is something difficult to come across this field.
How many animals have you rescued till now?
In the past 10 years I would really have to look up. I can tell you that last month data was around 739 animals, so based on that and the last year, the entire figure was somewhere around 8,000 and currently it’s anywhere between 600-800 a month. So you can estimate according to that. We have also done some elephant rescue last year where we were a transit facility of rescued elephants in Pune. In Maharashtra, actually, there is no transit facility for elephants. There is sanctuary for elephants so when a legal case happens against, say, somebody has an elephant and it needs to be rescued in Maharashtra then there is no place to keep this elephant. There are a couple of lifetime care facilities in the country, some in south. There is one in Mathura. Until they can do that long travel they stayed with us. So there were 9 elephants in last 2 years.
Once you rescue an animal, what is the process that you follow?
So when an animal is reported to us, there is a webline process. On the click of a button, report the animal by just filling in the requested details. So they have to put in their photo, they have to add their name, contact details, a message about what has happened and the picture. We automatically take the GPS location where this animal is. So this report gets submitted to us.
Do you have any plans of Expansion?
We would want to and if we do expand, we do not want to replicate the rescue center anywhere but we would want to create satellite rescues in places that don’t have anything for stray animals. We want to make sure that there is somebody to go on call immediately and give them the emergency care they need. We have already developed a system so that it’s easier to monitor all over by one person and that would just really be good because there are so many. So we wish that we could do this in more places if we have enough resources and eventually enough people want to work in this field to be able to expand in smaller areas smaller units.
The best experience you had till now in the rescue.
Last year we conducted a vaccination drive. Instead of pointing finger at the government, we wanted to do what we can do. We can’t completely focus on rabies as a issue because we have the emergency hospital side where we are focusing on animals that need medical care but we decide one day, just for vaccination in the city to see the kind of impact we can make it in one day and it was a sort of experiment where we decide to see Kitna ho skta hai ek din me and all of us went out on a streets. We made 5 teams of about 3-4 people each. Saturday 4 in the morning till 9 in the night and vaccinated 1203-1209 dogs in one day in the city. These are stray dogs and we are being budgeted by the government to get these dogs vaccinated and and it’s been years the budget have been passed and people are given contracts to do this job. So we wanted to see if we can manage 1200 dogs in one day. Why can’t the city be rabies-free?
What message do you have for the people of the city who are not much educated about these things.
There are people that like animals, there are people who don’t like animals and there are people that are neutral. We respect all three. It’s ok to not like animals but it’s not ok to be cruel if you don’t like animals. It’s alright! You cannot cause further pain to this just because you don’t like animals, that is one thing. The goal is like the generation that is gone is gone, but the younger generation needs to be sensitized more. They should be given more exposure to these issues. We really consider it as a big part of our work because more the coming generation is sensitized, the better the future is for these animals because currently whatever has happened you can’t change that. It’s not a problem that you can just erase. So the more aware people are the better decision happen in the city and the future will be better.