Making Festival safe for all: This Diwali, animal activists gear up for rescue missions, launch 24×7 helplines in Chandigarh

Vikas Luthra, co-founder, Happy’s Friends, said: “We are working professionals who had been running the squad and two ambulances for three years out of our own pocket."

Written by Jaskiran Kapoor | Chandigarh | Published:October 28, 2016 5:50 am
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Volunteers from the animal rescue squad, Happy’s Friends, swung into action on Wednesday night when some miscreants tied crackers on a cow’s mouth and set them on fire, just for fun.

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Vikas Luthra, co-founder, Happy’s Friends, said: “This incident happened in Sector 4, Panchkula. After getting the information, we rescued the injured cow. The firecrackers caused enough damage and the cow had to be administered stitches in its mouth.”

Although the incident was not reported, members of Happy’s Friends have vowed to rescue animals and also create awareness on compassion towards animals, especially on Diwali.

Happy’s Friends has been named after a dog, Happy, who was rescued by Luthra’s squad last Diwali. “He was a burnt abused street dog lying in Zirakpur and we rescued it. He died of internal organ failure. We are working professionals who had been running the squad and two ambulances for three years out of our own pocket. When Happy passed away, we decided to name our group after him last Diwali. Since then, Diwali is a tribute to him,” said Luthra.

For Luthra, Diwali is not only rescue missions, it is also a time to instill awareness and compassion among people to be sensitive to other beings around them. “There are the elderly, the sick, children studying. animals who are scared of sound and frightful of light and crackers. We are trying to urge people to sensitise their children towards all this and choose one place to burn crackers. This will also promote brotherhood in a way,” said Luthra, who is trying to change the meaning of Diwali through #rescuediwali.

They are not the only ones who are available on 24-hour call service. This Diwali, other animal activists and groups will also work overtime and run helplines and ambulance service to rescue animals.

SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), Chandigarh, which is a government body and has its shelter in Sector 38-West, will run its helpline from 9am to 5pm and 7pm to 1am. People for Animals (PFA) will be working till 4pm on Diwali on October 30.

Kashish Kumar, who has been a volunteer with SPCA for five years now, said: “Since a lot of animals are mistreated and injured during Diwali, a few animal lovers came up with this idea. Animals are subjected to more accidents than people. Also, some mischief-mongers tie firecrackers to dogs and birds for fun. So this time, we will be there for animals.”

Kashish, along with another volunteer Udit Bhatia, are working along with joint director of animal husbandry, Chandigarh, and SPCA general secretary Dr Kanwarjit Singh Bhangu.

Around 20 such cases on an average are recorded in Chandigarh alone each year on Diwali. However, Kashish said 50 per cent of the cases are not reported owing to lack of awareness, and hence, numbers and information being circulated in advance for people to be aware.

Burnt animals, lost pets, crackers tied to tails of animals, cows and dogs injesting poisonous residue of crackers – Diwali is a nightmare for the animals, say the activists.

PFA’s Payal Sodhi said: “Post Diwali records highest mortality of birds and puppies. Birds die due to cardiac arrest caused by sound blasts, while large animals like cows are victims of mischief and pranks of children and adults alike.”