Abhinav Srihan is not your average Delhiite.
Last week, online sites reported, he went around Delhi’s posh Khan Market asking people to sign a petition seeking their opinion on killing dogs.
“KILL ABANDONED DOGS. DO YOU SUPPORT?”
Though the opinions varied, the overall response was surprisingly in favour of the act. There were people who were against the notion, but most were sure culling dogs would help solve a number of their everyday problems. “Dogs scratched my cars. They (mechanics) have estimated it would take 3 lakhs to repair my BMW and 1.5 lakhs for my Audi,” a gentleman was caught saying on a hidden camera. Another was all for sending the dogs to China, “because they eat them there.”
The petition-signing spree was a social experiment where 31 year old Srihan who is a vegan and founder of Fauna Police wanted to expose people’s bias towards dogs, abandoned or otherwise. He has come a long way from where he started in 2010. “At least now, people aren’t ashamed of rescuing animals.” He even has a music video on cows labelled ‘Pukaar’ which can be found on his YouTube channel.
We visited his boarding/abandoned dog home in the by lanes of Noida where he along with his fellow volunteers bring all kinds of animals to be re-homed.
We met a couple of the rescued canines. A Pomeranian, Janki was rescued from Jankapuri and named hence. Buzo, 18 months old St. Bernard, was left tied to a tree in a park. His hair has been shaved off because he cannot stand the soaring temperature of Delhi. Mauka is a fat beagle who doesn’t get along with anyone. Only with Labo, a massive white Labrador and Janki. And Mrs Geetha Nair. Mrs Nair has been working with Srihan at the dog boarding since February but has been involved with them since much before.
From the other room, Srihan brings out a shabby looking dog of an uncertain colour. He is all bones. Srihan points towards a chair and shouts, “Jump”. The dog obediently jumps up on the chair and sits with his tail wagging, staring lovingly at Srihan who has a huge smile plastered across his face. The look of a proud parent.
The maggot-filled 7 month old Golden Labrador has been christened Goldie. “I wanted to call him Rohan because we found him in Rohini”, says Srihan sincerely. “These people don’t like the names I come up with... say I am not creative enough. I am just being practical.”
While we are there, a couple brings along their pet for boarding. As soon as she is let free inside the house she runs straight to Mrs Nair whom she greets lovingly. She is a 7 months old Indian dog without a care in the world.
Donations are welcome. “We bought a second hand Maruti Omni for emergency rescue.” He is vague when questioned on his current involvement with other animal welfare agencies. “I am just an undercover sleuth saving the life of one animal at a time.”
Srihan also runs a bird helpline and has rescued eagles, parakeets, love birds, pigeons and other exotic birds. He has converted the roof of a 5th floor apartment in Mayur Vihar into an ‘aviary’. “Enough of the armchair activism. It is time for some actual ground work. And that begins with saving a single life at a time,” says Srihan. “We can’t wait till after retirement or for our exams to finish to get started. The time to make a difference is now.”
After stopping trucks taking cows to be milked/butchered at the ITO last Saturday, Srihan has other plans/ideas up his sleeve. He plans to dare people into watching videos of cows being butchered/ the brutality of giving milk. All of this while drinking a glass of milk. He says he will pay people who manage to finish the dare Rs 100 each. Get ready to be accosted by a passionate activist next time you visit a mall.
“Displacing, harming or killing of community dogs by any means was declared illegal by the Supreme Court of India under Section 11 of the PCA and relevant sections of IPC,” says Srihan. “Shelters are full. Adopt.”
Yes, Abhinav Srihan is not your average Delhiite.