I am against cruelty to animals, dead against it. My idea is not to convert people to vegetarianism — but to stand up against cruelty.
When Jason Baker from Norfolk, US, approached me, I was a model and one of the first people to be approached by PETA... this was about eight or nine years ago. I am not exactly sure how they came to approach me, but I did have a reputation as someone who did crazy things for animals.
Once I was driving past Juhu beach and I saw this guy with a horse-drawn carriage taking the carriage into the water. There were 20 people on board and the poor horse was being forced into the water. The horse’s nose were bleeding.
I got out of my car and dragged the guy off the horse. His friends surrounded me and would have beaten me up, but I stayed with the horse. I left only after I managed to haul him out of the water.
About six or seven years ago, I picked up a dog outside St Andrews’ college in Bandra. Her head was full of maggots and I rushed her to the vet. The vet insisted that there was nothing he could do and he had to put her to sleep. I broke down and started crying and even in that moment, people crowded around and kept saying “Look, isn’t that John Abraham?” That’s when I realised that in this country we really need to learn how to value animal life.
Around my colony, there are men who give children pony rides. Often, I saw these big hulking men riding those poor, little ponies. I felt terrible. Finally, I went up to them and asked them if they even had a licence. Obviously they didn’t. As of now, I have threatened to report them to the police if I see them riding the ponies and if they do not feed their animals well. Once in a while, I do catch them violating our deal but they are incorrigible.
My love for animals comes from my mother. Even today, she takes care of a number of stray dogs, goes out of her way to look after them.
You should see how excited these dogs get when she goes around. My brother, dad and I joke that there’s food in the house for dogs, cats, pigs, birds but never for us. Until about four years ago, I had a gorgeous Dalmatian called Dasha Dale. She was beautiful and losing her to cancer was one of the biggest losses of my life. I don’t think I can go through that again.
Now I encourage people to adopt strays. I believe that killing stray animals is not the solution to the problem, sterilisation and sanitisation is. If you keep your streets clean, strays will not populate cities.
But we are an idiot race; all we know is how to kill.