YODA: Bringing the winds of change

18 Jun 2013 | by | Posted in: Story from Pet Lover

YODA stands for Youth organization for the defense of animals. This non profitable organization was started in Mumbai by five budding juveniles residing within the city. We heat it often that the youth needs to bring in the change whether in politics or within the country as a whole, but how many times have we actually seen this happening. The five youth involved with YODA chose differently, they decided to bring in the change.

Here PetSanta did an exclusive interview with Priya Agarwal one of the visionaries who started YODA.  Here is what she says

Q: Tell us the story behind your organization?

Priya: Youth Organization in Defense of Animals (YODA) was a brainchild of five visionaries who were exposed to the harsh realities of how animals are treated in India, specifically puppy mills working within the country.

Dog Lover Group Q: Throw some light on the various reasons of animals get abandoned?

Priya: Animals get abandoned due to multiple reasons which mostly revolve around spontaneous ‘buying’ or adopting. Many of us have a tendency to ‘buy’ puppies or kittens for their demanding children or without taking into consideration important facts about the pets. Like each breed has some requirements like beagles who require immense amount of exercise or will run down the house - or whether it be a simple fact that a dog will me a member of the household for approximately 14 yrs and they need to be cared for just as a child. They need to be loved and fed as your own child.

People abandon their pets when they realize the responsibilities they bring with them. Many dogs who have been diagnosed with illnesses such as tumours get thrown on the roads or left at shelters due to fear of medical expenses. Many dogs are taken when they are small puppies but when they grow up people dump them. There are various reasons sometimes as trivial as the dog is naughty, there is a child in the house or when people move.

The problem is not restricted only to dogs. Horses and cows get abandoned daily if they are unable to fulfil their working duties such as production of milk or pulling carriages. They are left on the streets to fend for themselves.

Q:  What is the kind of care that abandoned pets require?

Priya: An abandoned pet requires a lot of attention and love. They may be in need of medication or treatment depending on their condition, which would vary from animal to animal.  In most cases an animal expert is required to resolve all issues. The first and the foremost step when we find an abandoned pet is to try and find a comfortable home for them. The pet may also require immediate medical attention before rehabilitation.

Q: How do you support your organization?

Priya: Since the members of the organization do have full time jobs outside of the NGO, we all chip in. However, we do of course greatly appreciate if anyone can help provide us with dog food and medication. We have some people who donate to us on a regular basis and a few one time donors. You can help us in any way you want through cheque or cash or by just providing us with physical inventory.

YODA Pet Adoption StoryQ: What do you think can be done to promote pet adoption and spread awareness against animal abuse?

Priya: Education is the key. Educating young children at government and private schools is very important. There should in fact be a morality class added onto the curriculum which teaches students animal rights, the need to respect animals.

Pet adoption can be given the much required impetus through word of mouth propagations.. We need to create awareness on this subject and educate people that adopting an animal from an NGO or a shelter are better options than buying from a puppy mill breeder. We need to educate them about stray animals and how to handle them - about neutering, vaccinating and overall care stray animals need from us.

Q: What is the process of adopting a pet?

Priya: When one wishes to adopt a pet first the entire family including the elders (grandmothers/fathers etc) need to be convinced and not forced into this decision. NGO's go through a strict adoption process to make sure the animal does not land up being abandoned again. The process includes an interview by a founding member, a meeting with the family at their home, a meeting with the animal to make sure there is positive connection, learning the animal’s behaviour/temperament to make sure it suits the family and home. We also have adoption papers which take in details of the family and pet, for example previous animal experiences if any, the vet they usually visit, and food and exercise planned for the pet. The form further binds them from using the animal for monetary reasons such as breeding.

Q: Do you take volunteers? If yes then how can they contribute?

Priya: Yes we are constantly in search of people who can help us with our mission to create awareness against puppy mills. You can help us by raising funds, conducting interviews at homes of adoptive parents, take the animal for vet visits, help us with the transport and provide us with foster care.

Q: What is the message that you would like to share with the world?

Priya: Animals are as important. They have feelings just as we do and these feelings should be respected. Just because they don't speak our language does not mean they do not have feelings. Treat them like you would treat your own and as Gandhi once said "the moral progress of a nation can be judged by its treatment of animals.

Q: Can you share some transformation stories with us?

Priya:  The animals we rescue from puppy mills are usually in devastating condition. One such instance was a St. Bernard we had rescued from a breeder in Sion. She had been bred six times in three years and was found with a reproductive system turned inside out (literally). She was skin and bones, could not walk and was in severe pain.

We put her with a patient foster, she slowly recovered. After six months of good food, love and medication - she was 60 percent better and ready for a home.

She found a home with the Sorabjee's she is now flourishing. Her survival was a miracle and her life is now purely amazing. She has changed the life of the family, the Bernard gives them unconditional love and she is not disappointed in return. She has brought joy to the family. They have an autistic child who is much more stable thanks to Molly, the new name of the Bernard when she was adopted.

YODA success stories do not end here. There are many like Molly who have been successfully rehabilitated by the team. The determination of five youth helped to bring in a change in the lives of so many animals. It is time you decide to do your bit. Don’t just talk about change bring it.

As narrated to PetSanta :

Read More Pet Adoption Stories

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