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"Speak For Sasha" - A Voice To Fight For Those Whose Courage Is Exemplified By Their Love and Compassion

27 Oct 2014 | by | Posted in: Wag News

Sasha and her doting brother Calvin

In March 2014, the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare published the cosmetic test ban, which meant Indian companies could no longer test cosmetics on animals. However, this still meant that we could import cosmetics that had been tested on animals, which meant that pretty much any company could shift its testing laboratories to a “testing-friendly” country and continue to sell these products in India. The animal welfare fraternity fought hard for months for a full ban, knowing that the technicality wouldn’t stop cosmetic companies from testing products on rabbits, dogs, monkeys and various other animals. After tireless efforts put in by Ms. Maneka Gandhi, PETA and innumerable animal welfare organisations and individuals, the dream finally came true on 14th October 2014. In a landmark ruling that will save millions of animals from being poked, prodded, poisoned, blinded and killed to feed human vanity, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has finally banned the import of products that have been tested on animals.

For Bangalore, the fight for the ban on testing was much closer home. Between November 2012 and February 2013, a total of 130 beagles were rescued from an animal testing laboratory in Bangalore. Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA), an animal welfare organisation in the city, was entrusted with the responsibility of rehabilitating and finding homes for all these dogs. One of the welfare workers, Chinthana Gopinath, adopted a beagle called Sasha from amongst these rescues. (Read the story here.) A couple of months after taking home the beagle, Chinthana realised that Sasha had been ‘debarked’, a process in which the dog’s vocal cords are removed so that they cannot bark or howl in the laboratory. Welfare workers in Bangalore had, for a very long time, nightmares about the lives of these dogs we were fostering and trying our best to rehabilitate.

For Bangalore, the fight against testing laboratories became a crusade. People suddenly started educating themselves about products that test on animals. Chinthana started a community on Facebook called Speak for Sasha, where they regularly posted articles about testing laboratories, brands that tested on animals and, more importantly, brands that didn’t. It became important to start fighting against animal testing by changing our daily choices, by choosing to exclude the perpetrators of these unspeakable horrors. 

Chinthana says, “When I discovered that Sasha's vocal cords had been cut off, I felt a helpless rage. I imagined her sitting in her metal cage for four long years, being poked and prodded, being terrified and not having a voice to express what she felt. There are so many more like her suffering silently in laboratories even today. I knew that I had to do something to be their voice, to let people know that this was happening right here in our own country. So it was that Speak for Sasha began. We have a long way to go to completely stop the use of animals in experimentation for pharmaceutical drugs. But we can vote with our wallet by not buying cosmetics, household cleansers, shampoos, artificial sweeteners, etc. that are tested on animals. "Animal testing" is otherwise a vague concept. Giving it Sasha's face helped people connect to the cause.” More than a year after Sasha went to a loving home there continue to be discussions on animal testing, on the page. The now happy pictures of Sasha frolicking in her garden and living the life of a free dog encourage people to see these creatures as living, loving members of our families.  

When asked if there is anything that Chinthana learnt from Sasha and the other Beagles she helped rehabilitate and rehome, she says, “The lessons are many. I will always keep my heart open to the possibility of love. The courage that these dogs have displayed is phenomenal. They have amply displayed that courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to get past that fear and get on with life. They have put their faith in the very same species that has done nothing but hurt them from the time that they were born. It has been a humbling experience. Every time I find some past experience holding me back in my life today, I only have to think of Sasha to let it go and take that leap of faith.”

Click on the link below to follow the Speak for Sasha community and educate yourself about animal testing. 



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