This man believes in befriending and then deceiving for their own good: Abhishek Bhowmick
19 Jun 2014
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Abhishek Bhowmick has done something that a lot of us can only talk about. This man has started something unique on the roads of Mumbai that many NGOs and individuals have been drafting on paper for quite some time now. He decided not to wait for anything or anyone and instead take matter in his own hands. This was the beginning of The Metropolitan Anti-Rabies drive.
The name says it all; this campaign is all about giving anti rabies injection to stray dogs to ensure a better life for the dogs as well as us. This all started when Abhishek started feeding dogs in the locality and there was soon an increase in the number of dogs, which gave rise to people raising objections. This was just the beginning. He has fought various cases against animal cruelty and has been a recipient of the Godfrey Philip Bravery Award in 2011 for his good work. This has just urged him to only do better
Read on to find out more about this exceptional individual. Abhishek will be sharing his vision and will also talks about his zeal for the movement and how he plans to eliminate rabies among dogs.
DogSpot: Tell us a little about this unique initiative?
Abhishek: India is the global capital of the world when it comes to rabies. Every year maximum number of dogs and human beings die in our country due to rabies. Out of all the rabies deaths that take place around the world, India alone contributes to seventy percent of the deaths.
If rabies incidents are reported then people develop hostility towards stray animals and civic bodies get the green signal to kill docile and uninfected dogs. They do it by violating all the laws underlined by the Supreme Court. Even the WHO has scientifically proved that rabies can be controlled in dogs if seventy percent of dogs in a given territory are vaccinated. The key to combat rabies is mass vaccination and there are no two ways to it.
Ideally our civic bodies should take the onus of vaccinating all strays and also neuter them but they don't do it. They instead propose the easy way out and that is to cull all dogs. Let's face it our civic bodies are brutally handicapped to address the issues of the environment and dogs are very much required to maintain the ecological harmony.
You may ask why we call it Metropolitan. It's simple. We the city folks are educated bunch of people and we should take matters into our own hands when it's proved our civic body is so handicapped.
DogSpot: What promoted you to start such an innovative drive?
Abhishek: Citing all the above problems I along with my one of my friends Darshak Shah decided to take matters into our own hands. We decided to vaccinate 30 strays every weekend and let that be our way of showing and expressing love to the canine world.
Darshak had been helping me in my rescues and has got a sound knowledge of administering basic first aid and injections. Together we have fought numerous cases of animal cruelty and even a lot of people think that when we both are together any animal in distress or subjected to cruelty shall receive the best resolution. Yes, you can say that we are a cohesive unit.
Darshak is good at administering vaccines while I am good at catching dogs. So one fine day when the topic was about rabies, we decided to start a movement and laid down the rules between us that no matter what ever happens let's stick to our goal of vaccinating 30 stray animals every weekend. In seven weeks we have managed 215 animals and by the end of the year we aim to finish 2000 animals.
DogSpot: Are you not scared that a stray might bite you?
Abhishek: I was bitten many a times by stray animals during my rescues. So it doesn't really bother me. I follow a simple technique of catching stray animals - BEFRIEND, DECEIVE AND INJECT.
The little boys in my team are getting better and better with every drive and it's such a overwhelming thing to see my team succeed in catching dogs. We don't use any form of safety gears. No catching nets, no graspers absolutely nothing. Also we don't have a very big team. There are four to five fixed set of people. A big group can scare the dogs and they may go into their hideouts.
Apart from Darshak and me, the boys who accompany us on a daily basis are Pratik Maru, Vidyadeesh Jahagirdar, Darshan Kamdar and Harshit Maru.
DogSpot: Why don't you take any donations to support your plans?
Abhishek: I sponsor all the cost of vaccines and we don't accept any donations whatsoever. In my entire life I had never taken a penny from anybody in the name of animal welfare. We don't accept money. Once you start taking money you get duty bound to vaccinate fixed number of animals. Rabies vaccines are cheap and this is a fact that if you sell your old newspapers for three months you can easily vaccinate 15 strays which roughly contributes to three big territories of dogs
Let me tell you our sole purpose is not to vaccinate 2000 strays. That we shall do anyways. Our prime objective of this movement is to motivate people to start vaccinating animals at their own level.
DogSpot: What are the future plans with this drive? Do you plan to expand it to other cities as well?
Abhishek: No. Not to other cities. Though, in Mumbai we intend to cover some of the major locations. As I said earlier the sole purpose of this movement is to motivate people in vaccinating their colony strays at their own level. Our movement shall only protect around 2000 strays. When more and more people start doing it themselves there shall be a vast difference. Few individuals in Delhi are highly motivated to start it.
DogSpot: What has been the reaction of your peers for the initiative?
Abhishek: Well my family members had never been supportive to any of my assignments in animal welfare. A lot of money goes behind the strays. I earn pretty well but don't have a savings, haven't bought any property with my own money and that's why they are kinda irked. But I am going to continue. This is something which gives me happiness and lots of satisfaction. At the end of the day when I go to bed I see myself a contended man. When my fellow team members and me walk by the streets where we have already finished our drives, we take pride in saying each other that rabies can never hit these areas. Isn't this feeling of contentment more important than the whims and fancies of family members? For us it is.
Lot of local animal lovers want to volunteer us in our drives. But we don't to step out with a large group of people. We simply want to involve those people who are keen to learn the technique of catching unknown stray dogs.
Out of all these things, one of the best things was when an European medical student expressed her desire to intern with us for 12 weeks.