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The Barkclub Interview

In conversation with Tanya


Ms. Saloni Sharma who is an Assistant Editor of the magazine, Rupantar: The Destiny for Revolution, spoke to the Founder of Barkclub, Ms. Tanya, and got an interaction about issues faced by the Animals Rescue Organization and their work at ‘The Barkclub’.

How did you start this NGO?

A: I was a student, started three years back, met a black labrador who we rescued and adopted. I and a few friends decided to start an organization. We didn’t know it would become this big. We were just students trying our best, but then we decided to start a shelter in Nagpur.

1. As an organization working for Animal Welfare what are the difficulties you face while working in small cities and villages in India?

A: When you talk about NGOs, people automatically assume there is a level of corruption. We are not high-level, just a small organization, so the people at the field level and ground level were very supportive. We decided to rally the support of young adults and students. We focus more on volunteers because when we appeal for donations and sponsors, we do get it, but often we are more in need of volunteers. We have a few doctors who work for free, but usually, the challenge is to always secure more volunteers.

2. What are your views about accommodating animals in society, as birds are kept in cages and dogs in small kennels? Isn't it animal cruelty?

A: I won’t be able to speak for birds -- if they are born in an open environment, it is preferable they remain in the open environment. They form their own territories and routines, that is why the case of birds is different. However, for dogs, kenneling and caging s a form of animal cruelty. If an organization is able to care for an animal, they should. If they do not have the resources, they should let the animal go.

3. As an organization working in this field you must be aware about cases of animal cruelty lately in Indian societies. Would you like to share any such incident or instance which still haunts you?

A: There are many types of animal cruelty. People who abandon their pets (dogs, cats, horses) -- and that too is animal cruelty. We see many cases like these. There was once where someone threw boiled water at a dog, and we had to help recuperate and treat it for 3-4 months. Once, we found a horse that was abandoned and hurt, and we rescued it. Unfortunately, it died after 25-30 days, because people cannot face the burden of taking care of their animals. Sometimes there are instances where animal rape occurs. However, when we approach the police or governmental institutions, the most they do is file an FIR or send a warning, but often this does not stop the problem and it keeps persisting

4. What do you think? Are all Indian citizens including government bodies, policymakers & the local population aware about the cruel treatment/conduct with animals?

A: Yes, they do. The youth of today are animal lovers. If someone wants to do something for themselves, that is fine, but it would be ideal if they could set aside some time for these causes as well. Often, we see that students and young adults are very busy with their education and careers. Finding time is difficult. In such a situation, we say, if you are unable to start something of your own you can always support or volunteer with existing animal rescue organizations. In our own organization, of the 250 volunteers we have, a large number of them are students. We get the word out through social media, etc.

Follow Up- Do they stand and protest against such cruelty? Do they contribute in any other way?

A: People do. We at the organization are more focused on volunteering, but on terms of protesting, there are a lot of people across India who do protest animal cruelty. People do whatever is possible at their level. Sometimes people are unwilling to reveal their identities. While people do protest, the situation would be better if we had stricter laws.

6. As an organization do you want to suggest any of the ways and means in which a common citizen can contribute towards animal welfare? We would love to hear from your side ..

A: I can just say--students, or those who are doing jobs, can help with donations. Donations are a big boon for these organizations to help with treatment, the cost of doctors, etc. While doctors in an emergency will help for free, we do have to pay them eventually. If not through payment, we encourage people to physically go and volunteer or assist the organizations by promoting them, either through social media or by word of mouth. At the most basic level, even helping the street dogs in your locality or neighborhood will go a long way in helping out. During the lockdown, we went street-to-street and covered many areas to feed the dogs but when the curfew set in and it became night, it was difficult for us to go. In such a situation, it would be nice if the people who actually live in these areas pitch in and help their local animals.

How do you decide what families to send the dogs to?

A: We keep an eye on the families. We have a terms and conditions form and prerequisites where the families are required to keep us in the loop in case of injury and death. As we are not taking any money for adoption, we try our best to ensure there is good two-way communication between us and the families. In the initial six months, we keep a careful eye on this.

What do you do if someone outside of Nagpur/Balaghat informs you of animal cruelty?

A: Right now, we do not have enough money to fly someone out to Nagpur if they call us with cases of animal cruelty. However, we say, if you can meet us here in Nagpur somehow then we can meet somewhere nearby, or we have them get in touch with some of our contacts, say, in Delhi. We try our best to use our funding to help from afar so that our different contacts from different organizations can achieve success on the ground. We have only a few calls from outside.


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