Abhinav Srihan: India's Very First Animal Rights Officer
17 Jul 2014
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Abhinav Srihan has garnered a lot of eyeballs with the recent campaign
‘Kill Abandoned Dog’, a gimmick pulled by him to understand how people react when someone comes and asks them to abandoned dogs.
Well we are not here to talk only about this campaign, but much more. As we believe that its not enough to explain about what all Abhinav is doing for protecting and safeguarding animals.
Abhinav Srihan is the man who initiated
, an organisation which provides first aid to animals and foster care. This adventurous journey began a few years ago when Abhinav started to rescue injured birds - birds that has fallen prey to kite flying and take them to shelters.. He was surprised that most of the shelters did not allow him to see the birds again. Fauna Police
He later came to know that most of the places do not have an infrastructure to treat and rehabilitate birds. This urged him to start an aviary on his rooftop in Sarojini Nagar and this was the first step towards building the Fauna Police. Over the time, Fauna Police has now developed into an organization that works towards eradicating illegal Indian wild bird and animal trade, helps to save animals from various emergencies; whether man made or natural. This group helps to fight against animal cruelty and aims at shutting down puppy mills.
We got a chance to have a quick chat with Abhinav on his mission and vision about Fauna Police, read on to find out more about Fauna Police and Abhinav as an individual.
DogSpot: How did Fauna Police start?
Abhinav: I have been always fond of animals right from when I was a child. I was fond of birds, dogs, cats and almost every animal. I was always concerned about their well-being. When I started growing up I was a regular into some of the animal shelters and centers and I soon realized that there are times that they are just not equipped to handle the cases that come to them.
This was the beginning of Fauna Police; I wanted this to be a TV program initially as I am a Film maker by profession but that did not work out because of bandwidth issues. Instead of a full fledged TV program, my team and me has started making short videos that are regularly featured on India News.
Along with this we have have a distress helpline also that was started primarily for birds and later developed into a full-fledged helpline for other animals as well. We still make short movie clips that are featured in India News and are also uploaded in YouTube.
DogSpot: Now that we know how Fauna Police started. Tell us about what inspired the name?
Abhinav: Fauna as the name suggests is because of the animals that we rescue and save. So that was a no brainer. We really got inspired by the program called Animal Police on Discovery Channel. In this series, a team goes in and rescues animals. We wanted to fill similar shoes, hence the name Fauna Police.
DogSpot: Tell us about your recent social experiments’ Kill Abandoned Dog’. What prompted you to start it and how was the response.
Abhinav: This was a two day experiment which we carried out in Khan Market, where I was playing the devil’s advocate with a t-shirt that said that Kill Abandoned Dogs. The responses that we got were a mix bag. There were some people who came forward and said that killing abandoned dogs was a great idea.
Though, majority said that this was the most inhumane thing to even think of. There was a collective compassion that came out in people. This is a common observation that we have seen that people will love their pets but will not extend that warmth towards the strays. Our aim was to being give a mirror to the society.
DogSpot: You have done such experiments before also? Tell us about the one which is closest to your heart?
Abhinav: There are numerous campaigns that we have done in the past that yielded excellent results. One of the campaigns was carried against some unscrupulous builders that were illegally taking possession of the animal shelters and leaving animals to fend for themselves.
The other experiment, which is very close to my heart, was done to save parakeets. In this we wore parakeet costumes and went to a mall. The idea was to educate people against keeping them in cages. We get a lot of injured birds that are victim of kite flying or spending too much time in cages and they have to be rehabilitated after treatment. Our aim was to stop this practice.
DogSpot: Are there any other campaigns or social experiments in the pipeline?
Abhinav: There are a lot of experiments planned and are already in the pipeline but you have to wait for them to be carried out. Otherwise they might just lose their relevance if we talk about it now.
DogSpot: Which are the common cases that you deal with in your day of work?
Abhinav: We get a lot of calls on our distress helpline; we get calls from concerned neighbors who want to rescue the dog from inhuman pet owners or breeders. These animals are rehabilitated in the shelters; either in our own foster care or we send them to a shelter nearby.
The challenge comes with birds; when we rescue them especially the caged ones their flight muscles are not developed properly and they do not know how to find food from nature or fight with other birds to survive. They are kept in aviaries and then after almost 30 days of rehabilitation they are released. In this time we teach them to find food and fend for themselves. We give them a soft release but they always have the option of coming back if they want.
DogSpot: You must have saved so many pets from atrocities in the past or helped abandoned animals, is there any special case that you remember?
Abhinav: I remember this case because we could not save the dog even after a lot of effort. This was few years back. We got a call from a patron that there is female Great Dane abandoned in Dhaula Kuan area in Delhi. We reached there as soon as possible and somehow after a lot of effort were able to find the dog helplessly lying down in a crossing.
At that time we did not have a pet ambulance after much request from passersby, we took her to a nearby shelter but she did not make even till the evening. She was hit by something hard and had bruises on her leg and nose. It was very disheartening.
DogSpot: How do you generate funds?
Abhinav: Most of the funds come from our own savings. We get donations but it is nothing that comes regularly. There are some people who recognize our good work and donate but it is not regular.
Honestly, fundraising requires a lot of effort and we are busy with our other endeavors and have not been able to concentrate on this front yet.
DogSpot: Any message you would like to give our readers?
Abhinav: I just want to say one thing that it is very important to have responsible ownership. If you cannot keep a pet then it is better not to keep it than keep it and then to abandon it.
If you see any form of animal abuse/cruelty/torture and are too scared to step up then reach out to Fauna Police on these numbers - 9212111116, 9868355222