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Meet India’s incredibly feisty women animal rescuers

Meet India’s incredibly feisty women animal rescuers

Thinking out loud about International Women’s Day, we decided to discover unsung rescue queens across the country from different walks of life. We were interested to introduce these fierce women to the world. Motivated to dig in, we wanted to hunt rescuers who managed to mind-boggle us with their struggle, fighting spirit and perseverance. So, here’s to giving a shoutout to all these amazing rescue queens who have proved to be unstoppable. No, We mean it! These champions have been set right on their goal of rescuing. Fighting their way out of critical situations a rescuer faces they have won our hearts with their fearless tenacity. 

 Featuring Jigna Hiten Modasia, Garima Ozas, Hira Kaur, Reshma S and Ashika Appaiah – five women who have been breaking the glass ceiling while they find love and save indie puppies. Fighting the challenges of gender, age, financial limitation, geographical restriction and time these fearless women activists have independently fought their way out reclaiming leadership and unstoppability.   

Jigna Hiten Modasia: A one-woman army – The only woman who takes care of the stray dogs in Diu.  

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Her story:

Based in Diu, Jigna, a 23yr old civil engineer witnessed the atrocities strays were subjected to at the island. With absolutely zero awareness among the people, lack of empathy and governing facilities, Diu lacked animal care, compassion and the required faclities. After an incident, where her neighbors were trying to sell their pet cat on OLX, she was triggered and raged at their selfishness. Jigna, along with her friends rescued this cat, which became the beginning of her journey as a rescuer. After a similar episode of rescuing yet another cat, she was motivated to establish the first and only NGO based in Diu called the ‘Rainbow Animal Aid’ – providing shelter, vaccination, sterilization and care for indies on the island. With no veterinary hospitals, veterinary care, or clinics around, Jigna fosters about 39 indies at home and checks on the rest of the strays within the town. She feeds at least 200 dogs every day and invites vets from different cities to visit the ones in need once every week. Small towns suffer from taboo, which is Jigna’s life’s biggest problem, the people on the island fail to appreciate her work. They also make it difficult for her to conduct her service due to their misconceptions. However, this doesn’t stop her from saving dogs in Diu. 

Being the first and the only registered rescuer of Diu, Jigna is the only point of contact for any cases that pop-up in Diu. Owning up to her responsibility, she provides medicines, medical assistance, and checkup on a number of rescue calls. She is also a proud pet parent of 39 rescued indies at home. She takes the responsibility for their well-being and drives down about 4hrs to a veterinary every time any animal needs medical assistance. Jigna also feeds about 200 dogs every day. Speaking about her efforts, she shares with us the ecstatic feeling she is filled with when her actions inspire people to change their attitude towards strays.

Jigna hopes to create awareness among the people of Diu. She also hopes to buy a space in order to establish a rescue center in Diu to foster and provide veterinary care to all the animals on the island. Jigna is also putting in her wholesome efforts on vaccinating and neutering the strays. She hopes to address the problem by opening-up more people to indies in the future. 

She advises people to open up to our local indies and adopt. She also encourages people to neuter indies and cares for them. Jigna hopes that in the near future, people start empathizing with animals and give them a better life. 

Heera – An hotel maid who dedicated her life as a provider and rescuer of indie furry strays. 

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Her story:

Heera, a 48 yr old hotel maid devoted her life through and through to feed and rescue dogs around her vicinity. Breaking the barrier of age or earning, she proves that love and intent of serving surpass all differences. Earning a bare minimum wage, most of which is spent on feeding the dogs in her area, she puts financial excuses to the dogs, quite literally. Away from the social media shenanigans, and the support of anyone, Heera has given up 20 yrs of her life rescuing and feeding strays in Durg, Chhattisgarh. She also is a pet parent to 10 rescue dogs at her own home. With all her innocence intact, Heera speaking to DesiWoof says – “I feel bad when people hurt these innocent dogs, I’ve spent everything I earn to take care of them. Everyday, I feed about 70 dogs around my home . I try my best to rescue and care for them. But, I hope other people stop hurting them.” 

With no family of her own, living with her siblings, Heera chose to care for the indies for 20 yrs and has been doing so then on. This makes us question, does the excuse of not earning enough or being too old or too young to make the world a better place, matter? Unaware of her own contribution, Heera continues to be yet another amazing woman we must celebrate. 

S Reshma – A college student who turned into an animal rescuer. 

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Her story: 

Reshma, a 21 yr old college student working towards the betterment of indie puppies since 3 yrs speaks to DesiWoof about her work. Working actively with multiple rescue groups in Bengaluru Reshma has created a circuit of people who come forward to help her out. Her efforts have been fruitful with 50 adopted puppies. She regularly checks-up upon their well-being, ensuring a safe and happy home for all the puppies she rescued. Her positively linked network of fosters, sponsors and rescuers helps her reach out to as many puppies in need. Speaking of which she says “There are happy times working in this field, but there are equally sad and helpless days. I just try my best to help as many as possible.” elaborating on the adoption scene in town she says “Most of the people who are open to adoption prefer male puppies, it is challenging to change peoples mindset to find loving homes for the puppies.” Speaking of how she manages rescues, she says “I rescue and keep the puppies that need special care and attention in my home. The others are sent to foster homes. I have a network of people who keep them until we find good homes.”

Sharing her thoughts on development, she says, “It is the government’s responsibility to keep rabies in check. However, I’ve faced a lack of commitment to it in my very area. I really hope they get better at handling the strays in the city.” 

Reshma tirelessly works towards getting dogs vaccinated, fostered, adopted. She also has witnessed positive change due to her efforts. People came forward to help her place water pots across the area for the dogs around. Reshma, a young animal activist manages pet adoption Instagram handle – Pawsuppwease. Speaking about what she thinks can be done to create a better tomorrow, she says, “I think it is essential to add animal welfare as a subject in school. We are so unaware of the basic knowledge of mankind. Kids fail to empathize and understand the need for a world open to loving others.” Reshma’s affection, involvement and positive outlook for the future brings hope for a better tomorrow. 

Garima Ozas, an active animal activist working with PETA, Delhi as an animal rescue coordinator. 

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Her story: 

Always been an animal lover Garima turned into an animal rescuer when she found an injured puppy crushed under a car. Saving the puppy and many other puppies that were poisoned, injured or abandoned, she turned into a full-time rescuer and activist. She currently has 20 rescue dogs at home. WIth humans breaking out their frustration over these innocent animals, Garima has been tirelessly working towards rescuing animals. Working with PETA, she receives at least 100 animal cruelty cases everyday, speaking of which she says, “I receive at least 400-500 calls every day out of which a 100 report animal cruelty. Since, the lockdown, things are worse. Humans tend to remove their frustration on innocent animals. The animal laws are weak and hence, it is difficult for all of us working in the field to fix the situation.”   

Garima has been working fiercely for animals for a couple of years now. She has worked along with PFA, Humane Society International, SPCA, PETA and more for the benefit of animals. Garima also fosters special parvo and CD cases in a dedicated room at home to help them heal with a healthy diet. Her social work goes beyond strays as she actively rescues birds, working closely with the forest development. They are fostered until they are ready to be left in the wild again. 

Looking at the glass half full, Garima expresses immense gratitude as she speaks, “I feel a great deal of gratitude even for the people who put the effort of dialing in for help. With rising cruelty and insensibility, it is important to be able to find a few people who want to help. It’s hopeful.” Women like Garima are changing the world one day at a time. 

Ashika Appaiah, a student activist working actively with PFA, Mysuru.

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Her story: 

Ashika, a Mysuru University student heard about the starving indies during the lockdown and wanted to help them out. She took it upon herself to collect funds and feed them as long as the lockdown pertains. The first day she headed to feed them, she figured that the stray dogs hadn’t had a grain of food for a couple of days. They were frightful yet hungry, all that they could see was food. Sharing her experience, she says, “These dogs weren’t used to humans, they were scared and didn’t trust humans much. However, they were starving and hunger helped them fight their fear off to open up to me. Post which I went on to feed about 100 dogs every day at the University and care for them. Some of them were wounded, all of them needed to be vaccinated and so on, a few of my friends and I took permissions and took over the task.” Continuing her work with animals, Ashika goes on to rescue and foster indies. 

As we asked her about the issues she thought needed to be addressed immediately, she discussed the need of addressing backyard breeding at the most urgency. With rampant breeding of greedy breeders who are abusing breed dogs only to cage them for mating and eventually abandoning these breed dogs after exploiting them is hideous. These backyard breeders are also unaware of the health condition of the dogs they are dealing with. Adding to it she says to every rescuer out there – “You can only save as many animals. So, it’s important to celebrate their existence. Rather than constantly worry.” 

With all these women working towards a better tomorrow to find a loving home for every indie. We are surely hoping for an indie-friendly society. May more women join the army of spreading love in the world. Happy Women’s Day!  

a writer, a logophile, and a micro-fiction enthusiast.

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