Robinhood is not all about looting and redistributing the wealth among the deprived; Robinhood could come and rescue animals that are in desperate need of help. Afzal Khan, a businessman and actor by profession and an animal rescuer by passion, is the Robinhood for animals. Since 2010 he has been tirelessly rushing to tricky and often dangerous scenarios to rescue animals. He also brings the rescued to his shelter which is in his Dhaka home and provides them with necessary food and medication. After visiting his shelter, writes Nawar Fairooz
AFZAL Khan has gained a reputation as the Robinhood for animals for his relentless work to rescue stranded animals. He has been doing this for the last nine years. He finished his under graduation in bachelor of business administration from Independent University, Bangladesh before joining his family business and pursuing his career in acting.
He grew up with animals but on one fateful night in 2010, he heard the cries of some abandoned cats in a shopping bag and went on to rescuing them. This particular incident was the trigger for his movement to save animals. He was unable to save his first rescue, but now he provides shelter to sixty injured animals in his own home, with great support from his family.
Over the years he has been in the spotlight for his contributions to abused and injured animals in national and international news.
It is unfortunate however, that the organisation has not yet been able to gather sufficient funds or space to house the existing animals as numbers are gradually growing. According to Afzal, there are rescue missions every week but not enough volunteers for carrying on the missions. More or less every rescue often presents them with new challenges in new environments and more obstacles to overcome. The rescued animals are being housed on the top floor of his Khilgaon residence, where he lives with them.
This animal-loving writer’s visit to the shelter was a bittersweet experience, since all of them were injured in one way or another but surprisingly happy and well-fed. The animals’ lives have been renewed under Robinhood’s care. There were some animals who were lingering empty shells, traumatised from what abuse or misfortune we will never know. It is also sad to see so many foreign breeds in a shelter. It makes one question the humanity of people who purchase live animals for their short-term vanity of social media and then abandon them.
A three-legged Lhasa was seen happily barking around and playing with a volunteer while a cat, paralysed from the waist down, nestled itself in Afzal’s arms. The bigger dogs fought each other for their caregivers’ affection while the less healthy animals snoozed and wandered around the vicinity; blinded or crippled somehow.
It is heart-warming to see that not only Afzal but his sister, mother and neighbours lend a hand to help out these animals. After the recent passing of Afzal’s father, it has become a strain on the family to support themselves and the animals simultaneously. The organisation is receiving limited funds from kind-hearted souls, many who do not even ask for credit.
They recently had a vehicle donation, which also met an unfortunate accident, injuring Afzal. This was an important instrument in the organisation since they need a vehicle to transport the animals to and from the vet and rescue sites. Robinhood Animal Shelter does not have any in-house vets yet, but Afzal is self-educated in the medical treatment of animals.
In such troubling times, Afzal’s perseverance in his movement is admirable. He was recently seen climbing an eight-story building to rescue a cat stuck on the sun-shed, that too without any proper gear. Trained in Taekwondo, Afzal takes great risks for his own life to rescue the lives of those animals who cannot cry for help.
Afzal has a Facebook group and page where people can reach out to him and ask for help. Many volunteers have come forward through social media but the more help he gets, the merrier. Most of his missions are broadcasted live on Facebook that show us how truly dangerous and pitiful situations can get during rescuing an animal that has been stranded for hours in tricky location without food and water. In many cases, animals have not survived which is largely due to their lack of ambulance service and availability of veterinary care.
It is a humble request to the readers to look into such organisations when they are considering adopting an animal or looking to contribute. A small contribution such as sending some food, funds or taking a disabled animal home to give it a better life can make a big difference, at least for that animal who needs love and care as much as we do.
Nawar Fairooz is a student of Independent University, Bangladesh
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