For Shalini Agarwal, HT woman awardee, animal care is a pet cause
Shalini Agarwal Arora, 44, the winner of HT Woman Animal Care award, is an avid animal lover who rescues injured animals from streets.
As you enter Shalini’s home, her pet dog Bosco comes sniffing down the aisle. He greets with a friendly bark followed by a long sniff and what follows is a cacophony of woofs, neighs and purring of her cat Linda. Her rescued animals including dogs, horses and a cat all welcome you in the ‘animal kingdom.’
“I rescue injured animals from roads, pets abandoned by their owners or aged cattle left to perish,” she says. Once rescued, she starts the process of their rehabilitation. The rescued animal is taken to veterinary hospital for cure. Most of the animals are rescued with serious injuries, some with broken limbs and festering wounds. The worse she rescued was a dog with an injury along the spine with maggots in the wound. It took over two months of medication for the dog to stand on his own feet. The complete recovery took over six months.
Few animals are sheltered at her residence while the remaining taken to her shelter home on the city outskirts. We met Shalini at her animal shelter home ‘Premashram,’ which is managed by her NGO Mercy for All. Situated alongside a canal, the shelter is guarded by metallic mesh, which gives it the appearance of an animal pen. “There over a 30 dogs at my shelter along with an ox, four horses and a wild cat. Like humans they too have an individual identity so I have named all of them and address them with their names only,” she says.
However, her cause has also drawn criticism from neighbours who complain about the noise. “People consider these animals as nuisance because of the noise they make but they are not looking at their sufferings,” says Shalini and admits that in a way neighbours are correct about the noise but they fail to understand that it is for a cause.
With this she draws the attention towards a makeshift first-aid clinic at her shelter where animals are brought inside to clean and bandage their wounds before being released with other animals. “That is Shin Chan. He was abandoned by his owners and was rescued from a drain,” she says pointing towards a white hound sitting quietly under a cot inside the clinic. “He is very depressed and prefers to be left alone,” says the lady.
“Animals like humans have psychology which is affected by their environment and external stress. A couple of animals at my shelter are depressed because of their injuries,” she says. Talking about a female dog she says, “Rani was blinded in one eye in an accident and she remained very sad for many days.”
Seeing Shalini surrounded by her animals, one cannot help but ask as to what motivated her to take up this cause. At once, Shalini becomes emotional and speaks about Rosy, a female dog, whose untimely death due to poisoning by a neighbour propelled her to take up the cause. “She (Rosy) used to live in our locality. Rosy was pregnant, but days before her delivery she was allegedly poisoned by a neighbour. She delivered six dead pups before she passed away. I can never forget that day,” Shalini remembered. The incident occurred over a decade ago but the love for animals goes back to her childhood.
“My father was very fond of animals and the trait passed on to me,” she says and adds, “He died when I was very young but he continues to motivate me. ‘Premashram’ is an effort to keep him alive in my memories,” she said adding that her two daughters and caring husband help her in the endeavour.