How Animal Welfare Groups Helped Distressed Humans Amid COVID-19
Once empathy settles in, it is all pervasive and constant.
This article has been authored by a member of The Quint. Our membership programme allows those who are not full-time journalists or our regular contributors to get published on The Quint under our exclusive 'Member's Opinion' section, along with many other benefits. Our membership is open and available to any reader of The Quint. Become a member today and send us your articles on firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the year 2020, where hospitals are packed with COVID-19 patients and doctors have become warriors, we are living in critical times. While most of us citizens are being told to stay at home and practise social distancing, there are many who don’t even have one to stay in.
Animal Rights NGOs have been the most active in helping out stray animals who used to depend on local shops and street vendors for survival before the lockdown. From arranging food to helping animals in distress, animal welfare organisations have done their best.
However, their help was not limited to animals. Various cases of homeless humans, severely injured, some with maggot eaten body parts were reported. Here are some of the non profit animal-care organisations that shared stories of some miraculous rescues.
How an Unnao Based Animal-Shelter Helps Out
Dhiraj Awasthi and his father, Akhilesh Awasthi, run an animal shelter in district Unnao of Uttar Pradesh, Hanumant Jeev Ashray where they largely rescue and treat abandoned animals including abused horses, donkeys, bulls, cows, monkeys and dogs. On the morning of 24 July, they were on their way to rescue a cow when they received a call from a street vendor about an injured man, lying in a miserable state at the main chauraha (crossroad) of the city.
Without any delay, Dhiraj along with his team rushed to the place, only to find the man in a debilitating condition, his leg tied with an old rag. Upon opening the shabbily tied piece of cloth, they discovered that the flesh on his foot was rotting like that of a corpse, with a thousand maggots clinging to it.
Speaking about the incident, Dhiraj said:
“We have received such a case before too, so we knew that the hospital won’t take him due to the smell and his condition, especially in the COVID times. So we took him to our animal shelter.”
In the animal shelter the maggots were cleaned off with the help of Turpentine oil and he was given first aid until he was finally ready for the hospital.
An Unnao-based NGO found out his name. Later, with the help of a journalist, his home was traced. Unfortunately, the village pradhan had a very tragic story to tell in return. His family members did not want him back and only wanted the land he owned. It was also revealed that he was kept with animals in his home due to the wound and was hardly ever taken care of.
As they say, compassion and love find a way. In this case, it had to be Hanumant Jeev Ashray who provided full treatment to the man. His leg had to be amputated and the NGO is now waiting for the prosthetic leg for the man. Dhiraj says:
“We have had 12 human cases like this, we previously rescued an old lady above 70 years of age, unable to walk, abandoned by family on the streets of Unnao. We even found another maggot-infested case, where a part of the head above the ear was completely eaten by maggots, we called him Sarvesh.”
When asked about the changes the system requires, he said, “Currently, the poor are dependent on foundations and government for help in such situations. There’s probably nothing available for immediate help.”
He also added, “Thanks to social media’s power, we manage to get help and continue our work.”
On being asked if this is a result of lockdown, Dhiraj said “No, It has always been this way, we have had such cases before, there’s no one to help these people,” which, in my view, is the larger problem we are addressing here.
The Case of Nirbheek Babu
In a similar situation, a Raebareli-based bovine rescue centre by the name Jack’s Wish Foundation rescued a middle aged man suffering from a similar case of maggot-eaten flesh wound.
Founded by young and passionate Arpit Yadav, Jacks Wish Foundation rescues cows, buffaloes, donkeys and other bovine in distress. When the case was reported to Arpit, he resorted to posting about it on social media in order to arrange some help.
In one of the tweets, MLA Aditi Singh responded offering her help. She later arranged for a hospital bed in the government hospital for the man. Uttar Pradesh Emergency Helpline 112 too responded over the tweet and helped by sending an ambulance at the spot.
Arpit has named the man Nirbheek Babu and takes care of him at the hospital. He posts about Nirbheek Babu’s health on his foundation’s Instagram page often.
For Arpit it has been a new experience seeing that a human being could be ignored for so many days, left to suffer in that condition.
He says that his compassion has never been limited to animals and this is the least he could do to make a difference in the man’s life.
Noida-Based ‘Hope For Speechless Souls’ Reaches Out to the Distressed
Popular animal shelter, Hope for Speechless Souls is run by Anuradha Mishra who started her journey to save PTS (Put to Sleep) declared animals from recommended euthanization. She started her own animal shelter and continues to take in animals who are paralysed or too difficult to take care of.
Anuradha roamed the streets of Noida, Uttar Pradesh in her own car, feeding street dogs who were left with nothing for survival post the COVID-19 lockdown imposition. Starting from 21 March, she fed around 2000-2500 dogs on a daily basis across Noida.
HOPE’s founder is popular on Facebook for making live videos while on rescue and feeding sprees. During the lockdown, she found several human beings in distress too and couldn’t resist helping them.
To her surprise, the first person she helped was a man with a decaying wound in his leg, which was being licked by dogs. She says:
“I had no clue about how to rescue him. He was just lying on the road, he had definitely gone through some trauma, there was visible mental disability and he refused to talk to us”.
Curious, when I asked how she proceeded with the rescue, she said, “It took me 15 days to befriend him and I was watching the wound get worse at that time and it was horrific. He refused to take any medicine from me, so that’s when I decided that he had to be forcefully taken to the hospital.”
She didn’t name the man, but she made sure to find his family and get him the help he needed, starting from his full treatment.
On one of Anuradha’s dog feeding rounds, she found a pregnant lady in her ninth month in a village and promised to help in case she ever needed it.
“The very next day I got a call from the family that the lady is in labour and no ambulance is coming because of COVID so I had to rush and arrange one for them.”
Anuradha had a bag of these stories from her lockdown diaries, so many that I fail to list all of them here.
Once empathy settles in, it is all pervasive and constant. While the humans who might have crossed the chaurahas everyday ignored the suffering of these humans, the ones who stopped to help were animal NGOs.
Animal shelters often run low on space and funds and yet like the ones mentioned above, they have immeasurable space in their hearts. It says a lot about the functioning of the system too. One who knows how animals are treated can understand a human who has been treated the same
(Medhavi Mishra is a law student in her final year of graduation. She is an animal rights and vegan activist. She has also written a book on a vegetarian diet for dogs with various kidney, cancer and chronic illnesses. She can be reached at @MishraMedhavi. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.