I visited ASHARI, an animal hospital shelter and hospital near Calcutta in 2005 and was greatly impressed with all of the services they offer the animals and people in the community. Below is a recent article that describes its many facets.
If you'd like to help ASHARI continue to care for animals, go to its website and click on the "Help Me' button on the lower left side.
Article on ASHARI near Calcutta, from India Today, July 31, 2008:
The locale is stunning. Four-and-a-half acres of rambling greenery. Miniature pools and dew ponds, rows of trees lined along winding pitch paths, dappled flowerbeds, and thick bushes. Stables line the far end.
Cows graze peacefully on the grassy pampas around the pond, where ducks swim lazily. And, in the middle of all this stands a whitewashed chattel of sorts. The first thought that comes to mind is that this is a lovely farm in the countryside.
It is all that—and more. The Animal Shelter-cum-Hospital and Research Institute (ASHARI) is a joint venture of the Compassionate Crusaders Trust (CCT) and People for Animals (PFA), Calcutta.
Set in interior Mukundopur, away from the bustle of the city, this multi-facility animal care centre is a sanctuary of tranquillity dedicated solely to the cure and care of ailing animals. Started on January 14, 2001, it is the only haven of its kind in the city.
The cold-blooded malice that mankind is known to exhibit has some unfortunate victims. “Most often it’s the innocent animals that fall prey to human brutality,” says Dr Annapurna Singha, the hospital manager at ASHARI.
Among the victims of shocking cruelty are a mother canine, who was set on fire along with her pups to shoo them off the grounds of a posh apartment block, and a cow that suffered burns after a vicious acid attack, apart from regular hit-and-run cases.
The staff at ASHARI, including eight doctors, have committed themselves to the care of these animals. The man behind this endeavour is Managing Trustee Debashish Chakraborty. He says, “We aim to start an epidemic, an epidemic of empathy and compassion.”
The central clinic-cum-hospital is installed with rows of separate ward-cages for dogs and cats, along with a sonography room, a mini laboratory, an operation theatre, a medicine ward and a consultation room.
The activities within its whitewashed walls resemble those of any hospital. You pass men hurrying down the corridor to inject a little puppy that’s been running a high temperature for days, and you overhear Dr Singha discussing a tumour on a Labrador’s right paw with a colleague.
The animals here are treated for physical ailments as well as for mental trauma. For instance, ASHARI rescued a violent bull from the wrath of villagers after it injured many of them, and killed one. “The bull has been here for a while, and there has been a marked change in his temperament,” says Dr Singha.
In addition, there are separate shelters for large and small animals, an isolation area for animals afflicted by contagious diseases and an out-patient department. There are separate stables sheltering retired police horses, some from the Barrackpore Police Training College.
“Previously, these horses used to be shot upon retirement, in order to curtail costs, and also as a measure of safety against their misuse,” says Dr. Singha. “But we thought this practice was inhuman and insisted on their adoption.”
In fact, CCT and PFA have been able to get the municipality to stop the killing of stray dogs, as part of their Animal Birth Control Campaign. They, instead, provide stray canines with shelter at the dog pound, in the anti-rabies and animal birth control segment.
Chakraborty points out an ironic fact: “The dog pound is housed in the same building that was the municipal corporation’s slaughter house for stray dogs till 1996.” The organisation has initiated anti-rabies measures and aim to make the city rabies-free by 2011.
They have undertaken a number of other campaigns. But, as Debashish says, “Achieving 100 per cent success hasn’t always been possible, but the results were creditable.”
Dr Annapurna adds, “We have received considerable support and assistance from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, as well as the police.”
Their campaigns and programmes include promotion of pet therapy for people suffering from depression, promotion of eco-friendly practices, including alternative energy systems, and the promotion of stray dog sterilisation, among several others.
But, says Chakraborty, “Triggering the compassion of people is of utmost importance.” Dr Singha says, “There are many who nurture genuine love and affection for animals and come forward to help us. At the same time, there are many others who create impediments.”
As she rushes off to attend to another of her beloved patients—a little pup run over by a reckless human—she voices the bitter truth of the situation, “People are the support, but they are also the hindrance.”
I visited ASHARI in 2005 and was greatly impressed with all of the services they offer the animals in the community. If you'd like to help ASHARI continue to care for animals, go to its website and click on the "Help Me' button on the lower left side.