During lockdown, we all gained a little sense of community and unity due to the fact that everyone was going through a lot of mental, physical and financial loss. While everyone was coming up with ways for people to cope up with the pandemic, I couldn’t stop thinking about the stray dogs who used to get food from the streets but now that the streets were empty due to covid restrictions, they’d be starving, almost to death. Keeping this in mind, I volunteered at Pawsibilities- a Surat based NGO working towards the well-being of stray dogs where we go to dog-feeding drives each week and try to give food to as many strays as we can.
LO 3: Demonstrate how to initiate and plan a CAS experience.
The organization was divided by region so that each volunteer could take up initiatives closer to their home. I was the head for my residential region- Ghod dod road. My role was to organize weekly drives, coordinate with my regional members to set up a day and time that could work for everyone, manage to fundraise dog food from local pet stores and also the NGOs donors. Obviously doing so required immense organization and communication skills in order to play everything out., I had to communicate with the NGO head to make sure everything I did was approved beforehand. This restricted my organizational freedom a bit since I couldn’t do everything I wanted to. Even though planning was time consuming as I had to ask each volunteer to make up some time and shift some things in their schedules for the drive, I didn’t mind it at all as I knew I was fluffing a greater purpose of helping out the strays and keeping them healthy and safe. Not only did we feed them, we also made sure if any strays were injured we took them to the Vet and pay for their treatments as well. While some doctors did not take fees, others did but we have sufficient donors who were able to meet the financial demands.
LO 4: Show commitment to and perseverance in CAS experiences.
A lot of my commitment came naturally as I love dogs and care for their well-being the most so the emotional connection is what drove me towards planning each drive out. Even though every week I had academic obligations to meet and so going to each drive let alone planning it was very difficult but I had to take the time out and be committed towards it as mentioned earlier, I was working for a greater good. Also, the commitment wasn’t one time, it was continuous and because I didn’t stop the experience and continued doing it till date, I still have to make time and show extreme perseverance even on the days I don’t feel like. I believe that being humans, we can ask for help, the dogs who don’t understand our language cannot and so we have to be their voice, we have to help them and so being committed isn’t just an obligation it’s a need.
Lo 5: Demonstrate the skills and recognize the benefits of working collaboratively
Pawsibilities is built on the values of collaboration and teamwork. More people that would work, the greater the impact would be and so it was very crucial for all of us to combine our efforts to double the effectiveness and efficiency of our actions. While communicating with my regional members, I had to make sure that everyone understood that sometimes they would require to compromise their time in order to attend all drives and by doing so I also had to make sure that I was fair and make sure that nobody is the only that compromises their time always.
L0 6: Demonstrate engagement with issues of global significance
Quoting an article online, “Cruelty against animals is a criminal offence under Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Injuring, poisoning, relocating them or taking away their shelter are punishable offences under the provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.” Not only in India but various countries have such laws protecting animals from acts of cruelty. This issue has been prominent for a long time in this world. People seem to forget that street dogs are living creatures too and not just an insult used against others. They have a heartbeat, need for food, feelings like love and loyalty and so much more to themselves than just getting labeled as ‘strays’. Doing this CAS experience allowed me to understand the issue on a wider scale. From the moment we set out to feed dogs a lot of people around us would tell us not to feed dogs around their houses/shops because they would come and ask for more every day. This made me feel as though there is no humanity left. We waste so much food every day, more than we even consume, so why not give the leftovers to dogs and cats and create a win-win situation. So, we also made sure to have a conversation with such people and try to make them understand why strays are not the enemy, our selfishness is. Some of them were kind enough to understand, however, others just seem to ignore us and continue viewing strays as a nuisance in their neighbourhood.
Lo 7: Students show awareness of the consequences of choices and actions in planning and carrying out CAS experiences.
One of our biggest ethical obligation to consider before the drive was to have healthy dog-friendly food. Since sweet and salty food is harmful for dogs we had to make sure we have good quality, fully nutritious and non harmful food for the strays to consume as just feeding isn’t sufficient we need to keep them healthy. Next, like talked about earlier, we had to make sure we do not give them food near anyone’s house and in consequence, people might object which sadly, isn’t in our hands and it’s something we had to learn to accept. We also had to keep in mind that we prefer skinny and unhealthy dogs first rather than the ones that look like they get fed everyday. Even though every stray deserves food, the thing is about equality and it is only fair that we prefer dogs who need food the most-like puppies and pregnant dogs.
Overall, this experience not only helped me gain a better understanding of the stray situation of Surat, it also made me more empathetic and caring towards stray dogs in general. It made me a better person, a responsible citizen and a caring individual.