HYDERABAD: For most of us, the dogs on the street are strays, pariahs and sometimes even a menace. But, for Amala Akkineni they are community animals. Her connection with nature goes back to when she was a child.
“Some of us are born like that. We wake up with a very special moment that connects us with animals and nature. Some of my earliest memories I have are of animal friends that I had as a child. I never realised that I could actually help them until I saw a dog suffering. I did not know what to do, I just picked it up and took it home. Lucky for me, I had a mother who did not object. She simply rolled her eyes and took a deep breath. She realised that she has got a daughter, who has got this connection with animals,” says Amala.
Today, as the chairperson of Blue Cross, Hyderabad, she is taking her affection towards animals a step further by backing an Animal Birth Control (ABC) Programme and rabies prevention rally. In collaboration with India Project for Animals and Nature (IPAN), a registered charity based in the Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, Blue Cross will train local veterinarians and make the people aware about rabies control and humane dog population management. It will also host a vehicle rally and event on Saturday for this.
The initiative is backed with state-of-the-art technology — a Mercedes Zetros truck, to be flagged off on Saturday from Jubilee Hills Road No. 35, will travel across the country. It will be staffed by Indian-led teams of vets and paravets, who will travel to cities to spread the word and work at the grassroots level. The initiative is also being supported by Asia For Animals.
While, Amala can’t wait for this initiative to come to fruition, she wishes that more people step out of their homes and work towards providing a safer and healthier environment for animals. “Whatever you say on social media, you need to go out on the streets and implement it too. That would have a better reach than just promoting something. I have nothing against social media. But you need to do your bit physically, too, for the community,” she says.
Speaking about why she refers to strays as community animals, she says, most dogs on the street are because of the garbage strewn around, an eatery located in the vicinity or there’s someone feeding them — they have a constant food source. “In most cities, you’ll find these docile dogs sitting by a street or the steps of a bank. People will pet them, sometimes feed them. This is the dog I grew up with. When I walk my dogs, there are three community dogs who tag along. They know who’s their friend, they chase off other dogs and escort us back home. That’s the dog we are referring to when we say community animals,” she says. Amala makes sure that when she vaccinates her pets, their community friends getstheir annual shots too. She says that’s a brilliant way to address the so-called ‘menace’.