Despite being ridiculed as 'the woman with dogs', Vineeta Sabharwal pulls out all stops to rescue and rehabilitate animals.
Vineeta Sabharwal's heart broke when her dog, Casper, was run over by a drunk bus driver many years ago. An animal lover from when she a little girl, the tragedy opened her eyes to the widespread apathy for animal safety around her. She vowed to do something about it that day.
With the help of her husband, she purchased a house in Agra, named it Casper's Home, and went about rescuing injured and abandoned dogs and strays. Now, the rehab and basic care centre for distressed dogs has a fully functional clinic. On an average, over 1,200 animals -- dogs, cows and donkeys--go through Casper's Home every year, and at any given time there are over 50 dogs sheltered in the home. The shelter is run largely with the help of donors and animal lovers, but Vineeta says most people are not very sympathetic to the cause. Over the years, she has faced a lot of public ridicule and hostility for her work with strays. She tells Times of India,
“What turned me into an activist was the hostile behaviour I witnessed not just against animals but also the people who try and care for them. Me and my friends have been heckled on the streets, chased away from vaccination drives. These people took pride in torturing animals. It is despicable.”
But Vineeta brushes off these incidents and soldiers on, trying to engage local authorities in animal welfare measures. But many of her attempts have failed, especially when it comes to getting land allocated for setting up an animal shelter.
Another issue that gets Vineeta riled up is the rampant backyard breeding of dogs. 'Puppy mills', as they are referred to, breed dogs in inhumane conditions in order to sell puppies at high margins. Vineeta has teamed up with animal welfare organisations in other cities to spread awareness about the issue.
In the face of such lack of sympathy from authorities and the public, anyone would give up, but Vineeta continues to fight the good fight, because as much as there is apathy, there are also many people, especially youngsters, who do so much work for animal welfare. With their help, she has mobilised a rescue group in Agra.
“Youngsters don't see time or distance as a constraint when rescuing an animal. Their drive is what keeps me going,” Vineeta says.