March 2010: Beggars, temples, and dogs
I just returned from my fifth trip to India's animal sanctuaries. I visited four states and saw unwanted puppies on the streets almost everywhere I went – except Visakhapatnam. It was a testimony to the success of VSPCA in fighting the tragedy of animal overpopulation.
Whatever life challenges I face as a westerner living in Seattle, the mountain that the dedicated animal advocates at VSPCA have climbed for the animals in their midst and continue to climb every day is almost inconceivable for an American animal advocate like me.
I cannot emphasize enough the miracle of VSPCA – how much it has accomplished with such few resources and how much every dollar you contribute counts.
I came back from India energized and motivated to tell all of you what a miracle VSPCA's legacy is in an Indian city of over two million people, who are only beginning to learn – thanks mostly to VSPCA's determined efforts – that all animals matter, they need our help and we can provide it.
Here's what VSPCA has been up to lately:
Feeding the poorest of the poor
Some of the kindest animal lovers in Visakhapatnam are the poorest of the poor – the beggars, many of them disabled, who live on the street and, in some cases, share what little food they have with the four-legged beggars of Visakha: the street dogs. Moved by this show of humanity, the Winsome Constance Kindness Trust has provided us with a grant to help the kind beggars of our city. (See a video about this on our YouTube channel.)
The grant is enabling us to provide a delicious vegan dinner to every beggar who comes to the feeding program three days a week – Sunday, Wednesday and Friday – for an entire year. The nutritious meal consists of lentils, rice, assorted vegetables, sambar and a packet of drinking water. As we reward kindness to animals, we will also be promoting the kindest dietary choice.
Pradeep Nath: Attorney of Animal Law
Some of you know that Pradeep Nath, Founder and President of VSPCA, has studied law in his part time with the aim of helping the animals. His long efforts have finally paid off. This February in Hyderabad, he received his license to practice law. India welcomes a new legal advocate for animal rights. Congratulations, Pradeep!
Pradeep's primary role is to be VSPCA's President, but armed with his license to practise law, his influence will be stronger in the community and with the police, and he will be able to take on the occasional legal case for the animals. Not that this is something new – he has spearheaded many legal cases, such as suing the biggest temple in our area to stop the sale of calves to the butchers – but now he will be empowered with a license to practice law. Read the history of Pradeep's ongoing and risky battle for the calves here.
This week there was a major dharna (Indian word for those fighting injustice – pictured below) against the sale at the Simhachalam temple to stop the auction and warnings were given. The case is in court and we will keep you informed.
If you would like support VSPCA legal efforts, click here to make your contribution.
It's hard to believe, but animal sacrifice is the living relic of how some Hindus still practice their religion. Until recently, every June a large congregation from nearby villages and towns would gather at the temple of Polammamba in Visakhapatnam (pictured below) to sacrifice so many chickens and goats that the street was stained red. With the help of local police, VSPCA appealed to the head priest to discontinue the deplorable custom. We also put up posters to discourage the practice. Our efforts paid off. Finally animal sacrifice has been banned in the temple, and worshippers have been encouraged to sacrifice coconuts instead. We are still unsure how many worshippers may have taken their ghastly ritual elsewhere, but at least we have drawn a line in the sand in our city. – Pradeep Nath
VSPCA is nothing if not a refuge and ecosanctuary for 1000+ (and counting) of India's most awesome and adorable animals. Here are a few you probably haven't seen before.
Jayashree (means victorious woman in Hindi) and Jyoti (means light in Hindi) – some of you may remember our November 2009 cow rescues. Jayashree was one of the cows we saved from one of India's worst illegal slaughterhouses. Amazingly, she was pregnant at the time. She has since given birth to her calf, Jyoti, at our shelter. As you can see, the two are getting along beautifully thanks to your generous support.
A few more of our rescued friends:
Here is Chinna Pothuraju (means small buffalo in Telugu) – saved from cruel animal transport. Read more about our efforts against these abuses here.
Rahni (means "Princess" in Hindi) had to be given up by her elderly owners who were no longer able to care for her. She has lots of company at the new VSPCA cat shelter.
Here is "Lab." Read about his unique personality and how you can sponsor him (and other animals) here.
On behalf of all at VSPCA,
VSPCA Global Outreach volunteer
In honor of Shyam who could not be saved.