By Romila Padhi
Small team of residents from Purva Park have taken it upon themselves to feed and care for the strays in their area
Most animal lovers in East Bengaluru know Anuradha Sridhar. Since she moved to live in Cox Town about three years ago, she has helped many animals on the street. Some she has nursed, some she has gotten neutered, others she helped find a home and the rest she continues to feed and help in all ways possible. Now, Sridhar, along with her family and some neighbours, has been helping animals in her apartment complex, Purva Park.
Sridhar has been an animal welfare activist for over three decades. She has even helped animals in Chennai, Delhi and Ladakh (places she visits once every year to check up on the animals and to help residents feed and tend to them). However, her mission to continue the good work in her apartment complex in Purva Park, when she moved there, was not easy. “About six months ago, this was no place for animals or animal lovers. People had no regard for stray animals and they would even verbally abuse those who wanted to help them,” Sridhar says.
Sridhar recounts an incident when some kittens had been locked inside an electrical transformer by some miscreants in her area. “We called the BESCOM officials to help. We’re grateful that they stepped in and rescued the kittens immediately,” she says. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the worst that had happened to the strays in her apartment complex. “People would throw stones, run them over and the security guards too would treat them badly, seeing that the residents did. If anyone stepped in to put an end to the trouble, they would be abused by other residents also… It was harrassment,” Sridhar says.
This had to end, so Sridhar knocked on every door to seek help. Behind one of these doors, was Sridhar’s old acquaintance, Maneka Gandhi. “I wrote a letter to her. She has always helped when it comes to animal welfare. Thanks to her influence, after she called the residents’ association at Purva Park, people changed their behaviour radically. We can feed the animals in our complex without fear of abuse now,” Sridhar says.
Once the association agreed to let the helpers help, Sridhar joined forces with other animal lovers in her apartment complex, who reached out to her. “We have a WhatsApp group. Earlier the group included cat owners only. Now we have volunteers who feed animals on the group too. We share information regarding adoptions and other things,” she says.
Sabita Nair, another resident of Purva Park, is a cat rescuer. After learning about Sridhar’s efforts to help animals, Sabita volunteered to help feed animals in and around the apartment complex. Over the lockdown, Sridhar, her husband, B Sridhar, Nair, Nair’s son and their neighbour Rajeev Gupta fed, sterilised and took care of all the animals that wandered into Purva Park.
“Earlier many residents and the association opposed feeding of strays because many people would feed the animals at random areas and leave the place littered. We have made it methodical and trained the cats to come to designated spots for food,” says Nair. She explains that animals are creatures of habit – once they know where food is available, they know where to come to eat.
“I feed some of them in the morning and I’ve trained my son to feed them in the evening. Anu and her family and I share the responsibility. Rajeev helps us procure the food,” she adds.
The group has been feeding about 30 cats in their area every day. One packet of 100 grams of dry kibble costs around Rs 100. Wet food for the cats costs Rs 40 per packet and one cat would consume one packet. “We split the costs. Everyone contributes how much they can. I spend around Rs 5,000 per month. Anu takes care of most of it. When we need help, Rajeev helps us buy food for the animals that belong to poor families also,” Nair says.
Sterilising one kitten costs about Rs 2,000, even if one approaches non-profit organisations like Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA). In any private clinic, it costs between Rs 4,000 and 5,000 or even more. Sridhar has gotten around 25 cats sterilised around her area, so far. As far as the dogs are concerned, Sridhar says, “My husband and I helped all the dogs in the area get neutered.”
A vet has been helping Sridhar with her animal welfare work. “Dr Akshay, from Hope Clinic, has been helping us a lot. He gives us very generous discounts to contribute to our cause,” Sridhar says.
Sterilising cats is also no easy task. “We spot the cats and according to their age and health we get them sterilised. Kittens are sterilised after six months. Mother cats are sterilised three months after giving birth. We have to chase them and catch them in cages to take them to the clinic,” says Sridhar. “It takes two to three hours, sometimes more,” Nair adds.
The group has named the animals in the complex too. From Thor to Loki to Mufasa and more… Purva Park has many movie characters with super animal powers roaming about. “This way, we can exchange information with ease when a cat is injured and needs help,” Nair says.
Ultimately, the group only wants one thing, Sridhar says. “Animal abuse is rampant in the area. We want more apartment complexes and more people to get conscious about helping animals,” she says.
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