Even though, it is not sufficient, but there are a number of animal welfare organisations and shelter homes operating in Bangladesh. Most of these facilities are personally funded thus are always in need of financing. Recently, two such facilities in Dhaka - The Animal Rescuers Bangladesh Shelter and Kalua’s Homes - are shutting down due to financial scarcity. Manita Islam writes on them
THE animal lovers community of Bangladesh were left concerned by a post circulating in social media platforms about two of the leading animal rescue shelters of the country — The Animal Rescuers Bangladesh Shelter and Kalua’s Homes — closing their doors.
Upon investigation, it was confirmed that the former had indeed shut down all operations and the latter was close on its heels due to lack of funding and donations. The owners of the shelters, both avid animal lovers, have called for emergency adoptions for the hundreds of cats and dogs who reside in the shelters, in fear of leaving them stranded.
The Animal Rescuers Bangladesh Shelter first started its journey unofficially around three years ago, when its founder, Tia Chowdhury, an animal lover and an animal rights activist, decided to relocate a few puppies that she had rescued to the land she had inherited from her grandfather in Baridhara, Dhaka.
Tia and her staff, Hakim and his wife has rescued and treated hundreds of cats and dogs. Rescuers would usually respond to a distressed call or social media posts about animals in need and bring them to her shelter. After treating these animals, she would vaccinate, neuter or spay them and release them back to their localities. Most of these animals could not be taken back to their localities due to unsafe conditions and would remain in her shelter.
The appeal of a free animal shelter was great and its advent was enthusiastically received by the public. Donations started streaming in, to the point that the owner did not have to spend any of her personal funds on feeding the rescued animals. People also donated food and other necessary materials to keep the shelter going. However, Tia, a former student of life sciences and biology decided to extend her reach even farther and affect the lives of animals beyond her shelter.
After a journey of almost three years, on November 2019, she decided to shut down her shelter and solely devote her time in spaying female dogs. Her reasoning behind this decision is that even though she was working full time rescuing and helping stray animals, she could barely put a dent in the overall statistics of the untimely death of stray dogs and puppies. She decided to address the root of the problem — overpopulation of dogs in Bangladesh.
She decided to take necessary steps to control their population. Every year, an adult female dog gives birth to four-eight puppies, of which only one out of ten survive. Most of them die naturally or due to starvation or other accidents. The mother dogs can be prevented and protected from such tragic consequences by spaying them.
The cost of spaying one dog is around TK 1300, while the cost of rescuing, vaccinating and treating an animal to health is much higher. Even though Tia is closing down her shelter, she is still open to receiving donations for her new initiative of spaying female dogs. She will provide spot treatment for the dogs, but later, they will have to be taken to other shelters or will be given up for adoption.
For the animals who already reside in her shelter, Tia calls for urgent adoption for them, or else they will be left at the piece of land, unattended, to fend for themselves. Animal lovers all over the country are urged to come forward and take initiatives to give these poor souls a safe home and a loving family.
Kalua’s Homes is another non-profit animal shelter and rescue centre which is teetering on the edge of permanent closure. Founded by Naim Ibna Islam, more commonly known as Adi Guru, the origin of the shelter is nothing but tragic. On October 31, 2017, Adi Guru’s beloved pet ‘Kalua’, a black cat, was brutally murdered by an unknown local. Adi Guru immediately vowed to take an initiative to help these mute members of our society by setting up a safe shelter for them.
Kalua’s Homes started its journey in November 2017 in an 800 square feet rooftop flat at Zigatola, Dhanmondi. After changing three different locations in two years and facing numerous hurdles, the current shelter was opened in Rayerbazar, Dhaka, in an 18,000 square feet land, facing the river Buriganga. The shelter rescues, treats and rehabilitates sick, injured, aged and abandoned cats and dogs.
When the shelter first started its operation, the founder had no intentions of asking for financial assistance from the public. However, as time progressed, they kept receiving more calls for help and soon, the number of resident rescues climbed to 29 cats and 33 dogs. Donations died down, the funds for the shelter were exhausted after signing a lease agreement for the current land. Now, Adi Guru’s personal financing has depleted to the point he cannot provide for the rescued animals anymore.
The maintenance cost of the shelter gradually rose to TK 2 lakhs a month. Adi Guru started reaching out to the public for financial assistance of four kinds — Sponsoring an animal by bearing its monthly cost, becoming a fixed monthly donor, single donations of any amount and donating necessary items like food, blanket, mattress and so on.
Adi Guru now has no means to continue the operation of the shelter and has officially closed it down. However, the shelter can still be revived if some good Samaritans come forward to help fund its operations and maintenance. Otherwise, all the rescued animals would have to be stranded or given up for urgent adoption.
Even though winter in Bangladesh is not extreme, temperatures can easily plummet down below 15 degree centigrade. Starved or unfed, stray animals suffer unimaginably in the harsh temperatures outside. They also often have to face the mindless cruelty of the public.
Under these circumstances, we need more local heroes like Tia Chowdhury and Adi Guru, who not only provides these poor souls with all the necessities but also gives them a loving home; a place to call their own.
Manita Islam is a student of University of Dhaka
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