Thursday, August 2, 2012


The brown speck in the windshield grew bigger in the rain as I drove back to work… it must have been about five in the evening and I was rushing back to work for I had this column to write. The brown speck, lying on the right lane near the divider had looked like a brown sack from a distance, but as I drove closer, I realised it was a dog. It was odd for a dog to sit in the face of oncoming traffic like that… something had to be wrong. As I drove up close, it seemed to be fine. The head, and forequarters seemed fine but then as it saw my car and tried to get out of the way, I saw it struggle to lift its back and hind quarters but failed. I swerved out of the way and slowed down to a stop and realised the dog must have been hit by a car and was either in shock or had broken something. I pulled over and tried to figure out a way in which I could help the poor beast. Cars and motorcycles sped by, barely avoiding the forlorn figure stretched out on the road. Each time a vehicle would draw near, the poor beast would struggle to raise itself, flail around for a while and then give up as the wheels drew near, awaiting the inevitable. Each time the vehicle stopped merely inches away and then reversed a bit and drove away while the driver wondered why the stupid dog was squatting in the middle of the road.

I held up my hand towards oncoming traffic and moved closer towards the dog. Its hind legs seemed ok but were splayed at an odd angle. I could see a little blood but the wounds seemed superficial. I wanted to move the dog away from the road but was worried about further damaging the dog’s condition. Also, one must ensure that the dog’s mouth is secure during such maneuvers because a creature that is both scared and in pain might just snap and bite in fear and frustration. I realised I would need help… I raised both hands and asking for help as I stood beside the dog and soon enough a kindly biker stopped and parked his bike right in front of the dog to create a barrier of sorts between the dog and the traffic. Together we secured the dog’s muzzle and then, as gently as possible, we picked her up and gently set her down on a muddy knoll by the side of the road. The dog needed help and fast. I poured out a little water for the animal in a coconut shell, thanked the biker for his help and rushed inside the car to flip out the phone and call any one of the various shelters for help.

And here’s where this sad tale hangs its head with shame. For two hours, two friends of mine and I went back and forth between various animal welfare groups without a single ambulance showing up in response to our efforts. As the minutes went by, the dog’s eff orts to get up grew weaker. Her tongue hung out from the side of her muzzle and had a dry crumpled look and her eyes had grown a little distant. We intensified our efforts, calling up animal welfare groups and organisations from all over the city but the problem was that the location was a little out of the way, on the very edge of the city.

But each of these animal welfare groups seemed reluctant to drive all the way to where this dog was lying, suspended between mind numbing pain and a slow, agonising death.

We tried the Sanjay Gandhi Hospital, who suggested we try a few other non governmental organisations close to our location. None of them responded. We then tried Wildlife SOS who along with Friendicoes have always been very accommodating whenever I have taken rescued birds, injured dogs and once even an endangered star tortoise that had been kept as a pet. They were kind enough to suggest a few more names around the area, failing which they volunteered to send their own ambulance to rescue the poor suffering animal.

Here, I must mention the Circle of Animal Lovers. This shelter was closest to our location and had been suggested by all the people we had spoken to. I expected little from them though, for the last time I had called them because I wanted to bring in an injured puppy to their shelter, the lady running the place had snapped at me for crashing through her siesta, then cut me off and probably gone back to sleep. So there I was, shunned at her doorstep, and left with an injured puppy that I had to travel another 10 kilometres with, before I could hand him over to the kindly folk at Wildlife SOS/Friendicoes.

This time, an equally rude gentleman received our call and before we could fi nish, he cut me in mid sentence and hollered “Ab kuch nahin ho sakta… nothing can happen now… too late… band kar diya hai… we’re closed for the day”. Mind you, we hadn’t called them at lunch hour or anywhere near midnight. Th e clock hadn’t struck six in the evening yet but the circle of animal lovers had already shrunk top noting for the day

Another one, Shanti Ashram, refused to take calls on one line while the other was always engaged. Finally, we got through to Raj from PAWS and he immediately offered to send down an ambulance to pick up the dog. Meanwhile, the poor animal’s struggles had tired her out and she was resting her head on her paws. As my friend got off the line with Raj, we walked towards the little brown mongrel in the hope of comforting her as much as we could while we waited for Raj to arrive, but alas, the poor thing had given up hope a little too soon. She had gone cold and stiff . Ants were crawling around her open mouth and flies flitted in and out of those now opaque eyes. Help had come but a little too late for that little brown dog tonight.

little too late for that little brown dog tonight. Why did the little brown dog die? Did it have to? If we hadn’t been waiting around for two hours before we could get help to arrive, could a life have been saved? Who knows! But at least we would have done our collective best.

Of course, in the capital of this country where accident victims cry out in pain in the middle of the road while mildly curious but rather busy vehicles drive past them without raising an eyebrow, a dog dying its dreadful death means little. And yet, my blood boils at the thought that there are institutions in this country that claim to work selflessly for the welfare of the hapless, voiceless ones; seeking funds and recognition in their name and yet refuse to raise a finger to justify their existence.

In issues to come, we will take a deeper look at this malaise. We look forward to your suggestions in helping us recognise the welfare groups in your region, both human and animal, that deserve praise and support and those that deserve condemnation, so that precious minutes aren’t lost in seeking help and compassion from quarters where none would be forthcoming…


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