The pet project

An Odisha woman gives up her teaching job in a Delhi university to start an animal care centre.

Published: 24th June 2017 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th June 2017 07:00 PM   |  A+A-

Image for representational purpose only. (File photo | EPS)

Befriending an injured stray animal and treating it isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.

Many believe that stray animals are no one’s responsibility. But an animal welfare organisation in Bhubaneswar is changing this notion by rescuing homeless animals with serious health issues from across the city.

Started by 33-year-old Purabi Patra, Animal Welfare Trust Ekamra (AWTE) launched Project Boond this summer. As part of it, cement water bowls were placed for stray animals across the city. AWTE is working on ‘bird nesting’ project to increase population of endangered bird species, including house sparrows. “We are providing handmade wooden nest boxes to people, at a very affordable cost of Rs 200-250,” says Purabi.

Purbi Patra with rescued dogs at the animal care centre in Bhubaneswar | Shamim Qureshy

Patra, who was an Assistant Professor in marketing management at Indraprastha University in Delhi, gave up her career in December 2015 to start AWTE.

“Having volunteered for Maneka Gandhi’s Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre during my stay in Delhi, I was asked by Maneka to revive the shelter of People for Animals (PFA) in Bhubaneswar, which was inactive then,” says Purabi, who did her MBA in marketing management from Biju Patnaik University of Technology in Rourkela.

With her friends, she started reviving the shelter but faced resistance from PFA staff over use of the facility. “This was when I decided to start an animal care centre and rented a small patch of land at Patrapada in Bhubaneswar to start AWTE,” says Purabi. The organisation was registered in November 2016.

Purabi and her group of volunteers, who are mostly students or job holders, not only rescue animals, but also run an animal shelter where injured and sick strays are rehabilitated. “Not all animals we rescue get sheltered. Many of them are treated on the spot. Only permanently disabled animals, paralysed ones and orphaned animals are moved to the shelter,” she says.

Till now, AWTE has rescued 1,000 animals and birds, and sheltered more than 200. It has 40 resident animals and over 10 admitted cases.

“Not all volunteers can spare much time, so most of them come here on holidays and Sundays to help in bathing and grooming the dogs, cleaning the shelter and doing the paper work. The organisation also gets help from senior city veterinarians,” says Purabi, who was earlier associated with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Noida, and Friendicoes and Fauna Police in Delhi.

“Whenever need arises, vets from Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology also help us,” she says. While funding always remains a problem, the body manages with money that it gets from social media promotions and donations.

The animal lover feels that mindset of people towards adopting stray dogs is yet to change in Odisha, while the concept has been well accepted by people in bigger cities.


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