Mumbai: City angels rescue abandoned pets, spawn happy tails | Mumbai News


MUMBAI: In July, Juhu resident Rhea Chhabria, trained in fashion design, received a call from a friend. A young woman had hopped off a rickshaw, handed over a 3-year-old Shih Tzu and Rs 2,000 to a bewildered mall watchman in Andheri, saying she had to leave the city amid the lockdown. A week later, the watchman at his wits’ end saw and informed Rhea’s animal-lover friend who was feeding strays. The duo swung into action.
A visit to a vet later, Rhea, who now designs ways to match abandoned dogs with new families, said, “Once his image was on social media, things almost instantly fell in place.” A young dentist, Ekta Khatri, called. Within three days the dog had a new name, Ace, and a new home in Mumbai Central.
The pandemic produced many abandoned Aces. They were left by roadsides, in markets, tied outside shops, dumped by highways. But things ended positively for around 200 such pets.
There were sad tales too. Tied to a pole, a year-old Doberman died of distemper after dog bites. “While the number of abandoned pet dogs grew, people opened hearts and homes too,” said Pooja Sakpal of Yoda Mumbai that found “fantastic homes for over 60.”
An army of activists worked virtual platforms and their connection network to get castaway canines medical aid and caring homes. Niharika Gandhi, co-founder of Animal Adoption and Care, volunteer Veerja Parekh and some serendipity too, helped unite a single software professional Ankit Shukla and an adolescent Doberman, Eva, last month. The Doberman was tied for 32 days to a shop shutter near Sandhurst Road by her foster family. Dog foster Shyamax Presswalla of The Bark Club stepped in to help at Gandhi’s cue, before Shukla became Eva’s new family. “She now gets what she covets – daily walks on Carter Road,” said Gandhi whose NGO helped rehome 20 pets.
Abodh Aras of Welfare of Stray Dogs said, “It is sad that during lockdown people started abandoning pets due to a Covid associated myth.”
Deepa Talib, founder of Anubis Tiger Foundation which helped rehome 65 abandoned dogs, including a black and white Cocker Spaniel, Rocky, 10, found bumping into walls in Matunga after vets reversed his blindness, said “During lockdown dog abandonments rose. On the upside, more educated, discerning people wanted to adopt though.”
Abandoned were pups and seniors, sick and fit alike, said Rhea who, with Sheeba Akashdeep and Arjun Kesari, rehomed almost 50 dogs including a month-old Indie, Zoya, run over by a car and had its paw fractured. Said Rhea, “Many still do not know that dogs, pedigreed and also Indie, are up for adoption too.”
As Khatri says, the lockdown did provide her family a happy tail.

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