Lessons from the US: Be kind to animals!

Published: September 29, 2013
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Animal rights should be as important as human rights, and SPCA has shown how care for animals can be truly accomplished. PHOTO: REUTERS

The first time I fell in love, I was a mere child. My first love was not a person but the numerous animals surrounding me, and as I grew older, this love and interest in the animal kingdom only grew.

Photo: Reuters

Hence, it was no surprise to anyone that my favourite television programme was the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to All Animals (SPCA) documentary on the Animal Planet channel. SPCA is an NGO based in the United States which works for animal rights and raises its voice against cruelty to animals. Their television program showed animal activists trying to find, save and protect animals from cruelty and abuse in the city. It always intrigued me to see the efforts these individuals put in to protect our furry friends and I used to marvel at the nobility of this cause.

Photo: Reuters

With such a passion for animals and animal rights, my dream was to work for the SPCA and actually see how they operated. Hence, while visiting my brother in Baltimore, I took a trip to Maryland SPCA, which is the SPCA branch operating mainly as a shelter for dogs and cats. I had a few days left before returning to Pakistan and so I applied as a volunteer at the shelter.

Photo: Reuters

On orientation day, the manager explained to us that the animals housed in the facility had either been given up by their owners or had been abandoned. He also told us that the Baltimore SPCA had a “No Kill Policy” which meant that animals were sheltered and cared for, until they were adopted.

Photo: Reuters

As I worked at the shelter, I saw that when these homeless animals were first brought to the SPCA, they received a thorough physical check-up and were given medical treatment depending on their ailment.  Treatment could include anything from checking for injuries to rabies shots; from neutering to spraying for ticks and fleas. I was amazed at these services offered to animals; these dedicated individuals had taken the term ‘animal care’ to a whole new level.

Photo: Reuters

Once the animals had undergone check-ups and were treated for infections and so forth, they were listed for adoption, another detailed and stringent process. SPCA scrutinised the adopter’s background and personality thoroughly because they had to be absolutely certain that the adopter was compatible with the pet and vice versa. Even the smallest of details were assessed, for example, if the adopter lived on rent, even his landlord would be asked whether he had any objection to animals!

A personal counsellor would then, finalise the documentation. Maryland SPCA has a 30-day return policy, which allows the shelter, adopter and pet to assess compatibility levels, and in case of incompatibility, the animal can be returned to the shelter.

Photo: Reuters

During my time working at the shelter, I found that SPCA workers worked devotedly and tried to find a loving and caring home for every animal present on their facility and hence, the adoption rate was very high. To my surprise, the SPCA team informed me that they had operated in Karachi as well during the 1980s under Lady Constantine. However, unfortunately soon after her death, the organisation’s offices and properties had been seized by the government and the organisation ceased to exist in Pakistan.

Photo: Reuters

My few days spent with the SPCA were phenomenal and I learnt extensively about animal care and their rights.

Consequently, this experience made me think about stray or homeless animals in our country, particularly from the canine and feline population,  which seem to  live the most catastrophic lives , often dying either by being hit by a car or from starvation. It saddens me immensely when I think about these poor animals.

Photo: Reuters

Hence during my journey back home, I started thinking about launching an initiative similar to the SPCA in Pakistan. I pondered over how this can be accomplished and began to list genuine donors and proponents of animal rights who could help further my cause.

On my return, I also read up on different animal cruelty laws in Pakistan such the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1890, which could help me implement this idea practically and create awareness about the issue. However, in spite of laying the groundwork for this initiative, with the help of my father and his colleagues, there are still many hurdles which need to be crossed. I have been criticised by many, with arguments such as, concern for animals is a secondary issue and seems inconsiderate in a country where humans are deprived of basic amenities and live under constant peril. However, for me, animals are on an equal ground to humans, as they are living creatures that need care as well; and therefore, I continue to work for the woes of the animal kingdom.

Photo: AFp

Many of us don’t give a second thought to the pain these innocent beings bear each day. However, if we realised that with the smallest of efforts we could help in healing an animal and provide a loving home for it, then I believe we could encourage more people to pursue and support this cause.

Nevertheless, it is heartening for me to see that there are many individuals and organisations in Pakistan who work zealously to improve animal rights in the country such as the Animal Care Association Pakistan, Pakistan Animal Welfare Society and Edhi Animal Shelter which are driving campaigns to alert people to the cause. However, I personally believe that if the standards of Maryland SPCA are to be replicated in Pakistan, a lot of work needs to be done and a major part of that work is about creating more awareness and changing mindsets regarding this issue.

Adil Siddiqui

Adil Siddiqui

Currently doing his bachelors in business administration from Bahria University, Adil loves travelling and aspires to become a business man. He tweets as @adilsid11 www.twitter.com/adilsid11

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Sami

    What about Humans Adil?Recommend

  • Ahmed

    “with arguments such as, concern for animals is a secondary issue and seems inconsiderate in a country where humans are deprived of basic amenities and live under constant peril”

    If you truly love and care for your fellow humans as part of your society, that love and care will naturally trickle down to animals, too. This is a very natural process. We are light years away from becoming even a remotely loving and caring society. Great to know that some, however, do care for our furry friends. Thanks.Recommend

  • sh123

    Sad you didn’t learn how usa kills people who attacks themRecommend

  • ZABANDRAZ

    Be kind to animals & keep killing innocent children , women & elderly people by drone attacks in Fata, nuke Japan, Agent orange in Cambodia/ Vietnam.Recommend

  • Water Bottle

    Adil,

    Are you a vegetarian? You have to be, if you love animals. Because one cannot love animals dead and in pieces on their plates right?

    Also, I was just wondering, if you could write about Kosher and Halaal killing and explain to the readers what they mean.

    I believe most people do not know the steps of Halaal killing and what those steps mean to animals.Recommend

  • Water Bottle

    Agree with your first part.Recommend

  • fahad

    the comments below baffle me as the article is clearly on and for animal lovers..what has this got to do with being vegetarian? or humans?? its like me giving a lecture on maths and some students ask about physics…dont discourage the kid…Adil you have done a great job and wish you the best of luck…from a meat lover but an animal AND human lover alsoRecommend

  • Nb

    Beef was a part of my childhood diet.After watching videos of how animals are treated & slaughtered,when I was in high school,I gave up beef completely.I haven’t eaten red meat for more than a decade now and don’t intend to either.I managed to get my husband off red meat too after we got married.
    I have looked up several methods of slaughter and found none of them completely humane.Its put me off meat,for life.Recommend

  • Adil Uddin

    I live in Canada. Yes there are groups like Human Society but still cruelty against animals haven’t been reduced to such a great extent. For instance, I heard that if no animal gets adopted from the shelter then the officials kill them.
    Moreover, I came across a disturbing petition against MarineLand. Not to forget the sting operations in slaughter houses and poultry farms. The most pathetic action in my opinion is killing/slaughtering a calf, and this practice is common in many parts of the globe for varying reasons including meat and skin. Back home in Pakistan, I had a chance to spend my holidays and it was occasion of Eid ul Azha, and as far as I remember the cow they slaughtered at our home, didn’t sound grown up completely.
    For dogs, we have extremists and conservative clerics coming up with verdicts that it’s Haram to have dogs as pets, even though it has not been mentioned in the Holy Quran.
    I do want to have a cat and/or dog as pet but honestly they need proper care and time, plus all legal issues such as their vaccination on timely basis.Recommend

  • Amjad ali

    Animals can’t express their feeling but humans can…. I agreed to Adil Siddiqui he just want to tell be kind to those who have feeling but can’t express it… I’m not a animals lover . But still I have a heart which have a feeling of kindness….
    Recommend

  • Amrita Yasin

    It’s Pakistan, where 40% live under the poverty line. People find it hard enough to fulfil the basic needs of their families, let alone invest resources into caring for an animal. There are however some people who keep pets. My suggestion: encourage people to adopt pets from Pakistan, rather than importing them.Recommend

  • Sana

    The mentality of an average Pakistani is “either we will solve ALL problems or we will solve NONE of our problems” … this nation is doomed! Adil beita you are doing a great job and we only have hopes from the young generation (please read teen-agers) as old people have gone completely retard.Recommend

  • Fauzia Farhan Hashmat

    I am surprised why people are so negative.If Adil is trying to throw light on an issue which really is important then why to discourrage him.I am sure in future he will write articles on other problems prevailing in our country.Wondreful job,keep it up Adil and please dont be discourraged by the negative people around.Recommend

  • Parvez

    The thought of setting up an SPCA (Pakistan) is indeed a noble one and we could do with many such organisations.Recommend

  • Pappu

    Have you seen a tiger/ lioness pounding, slitting and cutting neck with his/ her teeth of weaker animals and than eating. My friend killing and eating animals is a natural phenomenon. All stronger animals eat weaker animals wether on land or in water. Sometimes you should watch National Geographic.Recommend

  • Pappu

    All stronger animals kill and eat weaker animals wether on land or in water. This is completely natural phenomenon.Recommend

  • Pappu

    are you an advocate for terrorists?Recommend

  • water bottle

    Pappu, are you comparing humans with animals which live with no clothes or religion or language or computers or …?Recommend

  • Vishnu Dutta

    We share the planet with animals. Unless they are in jungle then it becomes moral responsibility of the citizens to treat them humanely. We are a better species and we can only show that to our co-species by being nice to them.

    Adil you are doing a great job, a person who is cruel to animals cannot be nice to humans as well. They are our bench mark and test as a civilization and society. I hope more people become like youRecommend

  • goggi (Lahore)

    american fast-food culture is Coca-Cola und McDonald’s…………they are in general overweight, thanks to their obsession for animal meat and sugar products. This obsession was one cause of Elvis Presley´s death.Recommend

  • Water Bottle

    The strongest animal on land is Elephant.

    The strongest animal in rivers is Hippo.

    Sometimes you should watch National Geographic.

    Also, comparing humans to beasts and believing that Stronger prey on the weak is the reason why Pakistan is what it is today.Recommend

  • JoeWynn

    Americans have always been kind to the pakistanis, untill recently.Recommend

  • JoeWynn

    I hope talibans, the stronger animals, don’t eat you.Recommend

  • Pappu

    hey water bottle why dont you start giving lessons to animals to not to kill and eat other animals. Can you make a tiger vegetarian? you cannot go against nature. Human a social animal likes to eat both animals and vegetables.Recommend

  • Pappu

    I am just teaching you laws of nature my dear nothing else.Recommend

  • Afrooz

    touche!!Recommend

  • afza

    what wrong have the chickens done ?????Recommend

  • afza

    herbs and vegetables are also living beings.you eat them because you dont love them or dont find them cute????? that is injustice with all the vegetables and fruits that you are so fond of.please have sympathy on them and find something else to eat.Recommend

  • Pappu

    Dont worry I am very smart I know how to save myself, but definitely stronger humans (mughals/ british) ruled indians for centuries.Recommend

  • A

    yea are too kind by bombing our civilians by drones…just imagine what American’s would feel if we Pakistanis attack your civilians with aim to hit terrorists by our drones!!!Recommend

  • Zara

    Yeah Right n kill the human?Recommend

  • Pappu

    Elephant and Hippo are only big in size. I am talking about lions tigers leopards sharks etc..Recommend

  • Doc R

    Animal rights are as important as human rights.Recommend

  • Mukti

    Those who believe that caring for animals will not assist in the general welfare of the country might try to look with an open mind and ask the following question: identify the countries that are the most economically successful and that have the fairest distribution of wealth to the general population. Is it not a common factor in each one of these countries that people care deeply about animals, have many pets for their children, and have animal welfare groups.

    Which is the cause, and which the effect? There may be an ethical law at work here.Recommend

  • nishantsirohi123

    so start torturing all animals because terrorists kill peopleRecommend

  • guest

    Animals kill other animals its true but we are a bit more intelligent than that, the least we can do is minimise our meat intake and make sure the animal is killed in a non painful way. Wasn’t the article discussing treatment of LIVE animals why has the discussion shifted to dead ones? Just cause you eat animals doesn’t mean you also get to treat them like shit while they are alive, our religion strictly prohibits mistreatment of animals.
    BTW pappu sahab you are not talking about strength but aggressiveness, if an elephant stepped on a tiger the poor thing would die except the elephant is a vegetarian animal and so does not need to be aggressive. Also since you are justifying that animals eat other animals so its alright for humans to do so but some animals only eat plants couldn’t humans follow that example since you are so keen on following the footsteps of animals instead of using your mind to decide what is moral or not.Recommend

  • Guest

    Plants do not have a brain and hence can not feel pain unlike animals, you seem to have skipped 7th grade biology.
    Also vegetarians don’ have a problem with eating meat, they have a problem with how that meat is obtained, by painfully slaughtering a living thing that can feel pain.Recommend

  • Guru

    A tiger can not read so reading must be something unnatural? A tiger does not wear clothes so humans should not wear clothes? My dear if you are going to look at animals in the wild as a role model you will become nothing more than a wild animal, use you mind to judge instead of following animals. There’s a reason we are ashraf-ul-makhlukat instead of tigersRecommend

  • Guru

    did he say that we should stop caring for humans?
    You seem to believe that you can not love both animals and humans at the same time and that love is limited and does not grow. I feel pity for you.Recommend

  • afza

    that is not proven that plants cannot feel pain.moreover, i may have skipped 7th grade biology but you seem to have missed a whole lot of common sense because if you consume meat of a dead animal a lot of bacteria develop in them and all the nutritional value is lost.so ISLAM proposes the least painful and hygienic method of slaughtering and there is no point questioning it. (afza)Recommend

  • Pappu

    “There’s a reason we are ashraf-ul-makhlukat instead of tigers”
    Exactly, that is why we have a choice…either eat meat or vegetables or lintels or Pasta.Recommend

  • Pappu

    Although almighty does not show mercy when a tiger kills a weaker animal and humans can do nothing about it as well, I agree with you animals for consumption should be killed in the least painful way. As a human i have the choice to eat meat as well as vegetables.Recommend

  • pokka

    OK you are saying that we should not kill animals but we should let tigers and other such animals keep killing weaker animals. What kind of logic is that??Recommend

  • Pappu

    Although humans learned to read, wear clothes and call themselves ashraf-ul-makhlukat, they have been unable to stop a tiger from killing (very ruthlessly) and eating weaker animals. Why?? Think about it.Recommend