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Why the Animal Rights Movement is More than Fighting for Dogs, Birds and Cows

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“Not a single creature on earth has more or less right to be here.”
― Anthony Douglas Williams
If one were to define the crux of animal rights, the above quote would be it. This marks a major difference between ‘Animal Welfare’ and ‘Animal Rights’. The seemingly semantic distinction, in reality goes further more into the position on morality regarding the treatment of animals. Animal welfare is the humane treatment of animals; while animal rights is understanding the fundamental rights of non-humans and their intrinsic value – to not be used, labeled, enslaved, branded and exploited. To end the exploitative nature of human-animal relationships, we proudly associate ourselves federating the ‘Animal Rights Movement of India’.

While the animal rights movement can be broadly categorised into ‘Animals farmed for Food and Clothing, ‘Companion Animals’, ‘Animals in Experimentation’ and ‘Animals in Captivity and Entertainment’, it is in no way limited by speciesism. It isn’t confined to raising our voice against the puppy flung from a building, rejoicing at the new dog breeding & pet shop rules, caring for the dogs and cows in distress on the streets, or even the gigantic task of getting ABC and ARV implemented. Animal rights activism is beyond and extended to also bring an end to every use of animals – the infamous dairy and slaughter industries, the experimentation labs, the confining zoos, the humiliating circuses. Backed up with logic and reason, the animals rights viewpoint goes on to understanding the vested interests of political and religious groups in the cattle market muddle, having the foresight to contemplate if the plans to build the supposed sanctuaries for cows are in fact, in the animals’ best interest. The animal rights movement of India exceeds the love for our favourite cat(s) & dog(s) in the locality, or the alleged worship of a certain bovine animal that is sweeping away attention – it also lends thought to the suffering of millions of other animals languishing in equally horrific conditions.

There’s no denying that the human-dog conflict, or the suffering of the birds and reptiles caught up in our modern cities, requires constant attention of the movement today. Fortunately, there are a large number of us who are working on rescue, rehabilitation, and care-giving, running helplines, and shelters, and hospitals and hospices.

But there is also a need to identify and urgently work on other issues that have been ignored for a long time. While we feed stray cattle, more and more cows are abandoned by the dairy industry to die (and we consume their milk); while we rescue street dogs, more and more bitches are kept in harrowing conditions for breeding; while we rescue birds caught in a manjha, a circus owner somewhere is cutting feathers off another bird.

Recognising rights for all can start with something as simple as adopting veganism – as an animal rights activist, to not cause suffering to one animal as we save another. It can also be broadened to work on the significant atrocities caused to animals in the field of dairy, slaughter, experimentation and the pet industries in India, and to be an active voice in the animal rights movement of the country-for all animals, unbiased!


FIAPO’s Largest Veganism Awareness Drive Makes it to Limca Book of Records!

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FIAPO’s Living Free has set a record for holding the largest awareness drive for animal rights in Indian history! Featured in the Limca Book of Record 2017, in just 8 short weeks, we reached out to 1.33 lakh people in 12 cities! Our impact measurement studies show that this vegan outreach would have saved 66,500 animals form ending up on people’s plates.
Proudly known as the ‘Compassion Cruisade’, FIAPO’s Living Free Team and Vegan Outreach collectively reached out to people via leafleting, video outreach and one on one talks in Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi, Jaipur, Udaipur, Ahmedabad, Surat, Mumbai, Pune, Coimbatore, Bangalore and Chennai. These tried and tested methods not only substantially decreased the consumption of animals in people’s diets, but also helped bring the (mostly) isolated animal rights community spread across the country, together!
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This national recognition is a victory for all of us who’ve worked tirelessly through the years to fight for the rights of farmed animals. With this milestone under the belt, we are all set to double our outreach in 2017. Will you join us to set the next big record? Click here

FIAPO Bootcamp 2017 South Zone-Meet the Speakers

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As the dates for Bootcamp 2017-South Zone (14th July-16th July) approach, the preparations are in full swing to put up a good show. The aim of the event is to effectively bring together the people in the southern part of India towards a more united, strong and empowered animal rights force. We are delighted to share a little more about what the Bootcamp has in store!
The 3 day weekend residential Bootcamp’s program is divided into 4 tracks, the details of which are available here.There are however, some workshops that all participants attend on common issues like organisation/group development (including managing volunteers), fundraising, communications and more! To aid this, thought leaders in the animal rights movement of India, like Dr. S. Chinny Krishna and Norma Alvares, amongst others, will be sharing their thoughts and engaging with the audiences on:

  • The Vision of an Indian Animal Rights Community
  • Animal Rights Activists: Who are we?
  • Setting the Context: Animal Rights in the South
  • The Indian Animal Rights Movement: What Are We Doing, Why and How?
  • Innovation and Best Practice for your Activism for each individual track
  • Picking, Planning and Running a Successful  Campaign for each individual track

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Though the registrations for the Bootcamp are officially closed, we do have 2 more seats left for the Legal Enforcement Track. Register Now

Stay tuned, for the registrations for North Zone are opening up soon!

 


5 Tips to Improve First Aid for Street Animals!

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Here’s a story to lead by example from the streets of Varanasi, on how the best practices of First-Aid can go a long way, to help animals on the streets effectively and smartly, with minimum resources and maximum outcome!

Less than 2 weeks ago, Matru was bitten by two other dogs in the district of Khojwa, Varanasi.

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Priyanka, one of the volunteers in the neighbourhood, immediately notified the area’s first-aid specialist, Anoop. Speedy dressing of the wound, anti-biotics to make sure the infection doesn’t spread and regular follow ups for the next 3-4 days made sure that Matru was fast on his way to recovery! He has been taken care of by Priyanka, who feeds him and regularly applies medicine.

FIAPO has been able to do this and more in Varanasi thanks to the growing first aid community in the city with over 35 volunteers, covering over 60% of the city’s area through first aid. Based on FIAPO’s work in Varanasi and many other cities, below are 5 easy, tried and tested methods that are reliable, effective and quick for an effective First-Aid program:
1. ​First Aid Rounds
Go for a first aid round at least once a week, along with a basic first aid kit. Look for dogs in gullies and under cars, asking the locals on the way to know if they’ve come across an injured dog. Treat small wounds on the way by cleaning, bandaging, applying medicine etc. If you need help with these, get in touch with the local NGO to provide you training or contact us at mail@fiapo.org to help you with the process.
2. Act Locally
Get volunteers to proactively take the responsibility of taking care of dogs in their neighbourhood. The best way to do this is going for the aforementioned first aid rounds and aligning with the community caretakers. You can also use social media to your advantage by posting calls for volunteerism to start your own subgroup ensuring healthy and happy street animals!
3. Foster a Positive Community
While conducting first-aid, try building a rapport with your community helpers like the local chaiwala, panwala, security guard and others. Remember to carry your business card, or your phone number written(in the local language) on small pieces of paper to distribute to the people around you. This way, the community helpers can help you by informing you about the whereabouts of dogs and bringing to your notice if any of them needs your attention.
4. Connect with Fellow First-Aid Community
Having a well informed and interactive first aid community is imperative to quality first aid –You can start by creating a Whatsapp Group to connect with fellow volunteers for emergencies, and to keep up the enthusiasm by sharing inspiring success stories. With this group, you can also arrange for a regular meet-ups(preferably once in 6 weeks) and review the status of the network, add new people and check the health of the animals in the city.
5. Documentation of Treatment for Effective Follow Ups
Effective follow-ups are only possible if there is documentation of the ongoing treatment. It is rare that a dog gets treated in one go, and when you are doing that for 15 odd dogs, it is almost impossible to keep track! To make life simpler for you and the ailing animal, it is of utmost importance to know when the dog’s next dose of medicine is due!

If executed effectively, these 5 tips can make your city into a safe haven for animals and foster a healthy environment for all our street friends! If you’d like to start a First-Aid program in your city-or would like support for an existing one, write to us at mail@fiapo.org!


What the Animal Rights Movement Can Do with the New Animal Protection Rules

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Much to the joy of the animal rights community of India, the MoEFCC’s recent release of 4 new rules under The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 to regulate dog breedersanimal marketscase property animals and aquariums pet shops that sell fish has caused an upheaval. The radical retaliations pertain not only to the sale of animals for slaughter, but also on the impact on the leather and dairy industry. And though we aren’t fans of animal protection motivated by politics or religion, we are glad that for once, the open secret of the links between the dairy, beef and leather industries, is in the limelight.

Involved in the public consultation process, FIAPO had earlier provided comment to strengthen these rules and so far – the Center has stood by its position of the cattle market rules being put in place to curb illegal trafficking and preventing the sale of cows and buffaloes for slaughter at markets. However, the Madras High Court has granted a stay on this, but, orders from Kerala HC and Rajasthan HC are encouraging, with a judgment from Rajasthan recommending that the cow should be recognized as a legal entity (and also declared a national animal). We are celebrating that with the new rules, buffaloes (for once) are getting the same level of protection as cows, and that the Rajasthan judgment recommends personhood for cows.

But while the pursuit for political and religious supremacy continues, we are sorely disappointed with the blind eye towards a major contributing cause- consumption of dairy and leather. Why are most Indians and the current governing party still turning a blind eye to the fact that the only way to truly save the Gauvansh is to stop using products derived from them? What is really going to happen to the animals that are no longer producing milk? If they are to be sent to the so-called “huge gaushalas” that are yet to be built, who is going to take the responsibility of monitoring what really happens inside these facilities? Are we setting a time bomb that will very soon explode, paving way for more Hingonias? Pulling them out from the miserable slaughterhouses and dumping them into the endless sufferings of Gaushalas, shelters and roads with plastic in their bellies?

The slaughter issue has captured the nation’s imagination –even if it is more focused on religion and politics.  So, we are calling on every Indian animal rights activist to do what we do all do best – focus on the animals. The rules regulating the breeding industry aren’t receiving any public attention, but that doesn’t reduce their significance.  We have all waited for years for a way to regulate the growing trade in dogs and other pets  – and at FIAPO we are concerned that while everyone is paying attention to the market rules and slaughter, the dogs and other animals caught up in the breeding industry are being forgotten. This is a crucial time for us as a community to prepare; to be aware of all possibilities that lie ahead of us and strike when the iron is hot – before the opposition to the breeding regulations gets stronger! If we don’t fortify right now to end the suffering of thousands of puppies and dogs and fish (in addition to cows and bulls and buffaloes) the efforts of our community to bring the rules to the present will be moot.

And so, the single most important thing to do now  is to ensure that all the boards, committees and the required infrastructure is in place. Here’s a full list extracted from all the new rules, along with all the information and links you’ll need to have the aforementioned set up. Armed with these, contact your local authorities at the earliest and get started! If you need assistance, write to us at mail@fiapo.org.

Start today – let us not fail our companions and put up a united front for the justice of animals.


The Difference between Vigilantes and Animal Rights Activists

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Stories of acts of violence by Gau Rakshaks– in the name of non-violence towards animals (specifically cows) – have gripped the country. In the midst of the tragic death of a Muslim man by cow protection vigilantes and knee-jerk and poorly-planned schemes and laws to punish ill-treatment of cows, news also came in of individuals who beat up 3 Muslim men transporting buffaloes. Significant debate followed on whether they were animal rights activists or Gau Rakshaks. After all, each of us probably knows animal rights activists within our community who have stopped trucks and rescued cattle being transported illegally.

The waters are muddy – at least from the public’s point of view.

Yet, there is a sharp distinction. Animal rights are for all animals, for their intrinsic value and right to life, not to be seen as commodities that are to be used by human beings as food, or clothes, or entertainment. Gau Raksha, on the other hand, is an extremely narrow view which is speciesist (only bovine, specifically cows), sexist (cows not bulls) and motivated by religious beliefs. Not only is there a huge difference in ideology, but as a movement based in non-violence, we also completely disagree with the violent tactics adopted by Gau Rakshaks. But the waters are muddied and now genuine initiatives against cruel treatment meted out to cows taken up by animal rights activists are likely to be referred to as acts of vigilantism too. Even initiatives to promote vegetarian and vegan lifestyles are likely to be viewed as a part of the same spectrum of vigilantism, thus setting back the hard work of many hundreds of grassroots activists that run campaigns to reduce and end the consumption of animal products.

Rogue Gau Rakshaks are self-appointed, self-styled vigilantes, perpetrating violence and terror in the guise of animal rights activists. Not only are we completely opposed to such elements, we are shocked by their extremely narrow vision, invariably failing to serve even the cow protection cause in its entirety. What happens to the cows they rescue? They land in shelters that are equally pathetic for any animal and which do not have sufficient fodder, access to veterinary doctors and fail to provide even the basic minimum quality of life. Eventually, most of the cows die a miserable death. Why is the treatment of cows in dairies across India absent from their criticism? Why aren’t Gau Rakshaks vegan?

The lack of respect for the intrinsic value of animals marks the clear distinction between Gau Raksha vigilantism and Animal Rights Activism. We at FIAPO sincerely hope that there is strict action against the unlawful acts of these self-proclaimed ‘cow protectors’. And for those genuine animal rights activists who are caught in this storm, we stand by you. We will not allow Animal Rights activism, which stands strong on the fundamental respect to all lives, to become a conduit to further religious and political vested interests, locally, regionally or nationally!


Behind the Mortar Walls of Laboratories that Test on Dogs!!

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The little pup, hardly 6 months of age, struggled to pick himself up as he fell on the cold floor of his cage in the laboratory, for the umpteenth time. Once again he tried to stand on his frail paws but only to fall as a fresh bout of seizures threw him uncontrollably against the walls of the metal cage- leaving him injured and bleeding. He was screaming in anguish, visibly writhing in pain as the poison of the pesticide fed to him was slowly destroying his brain- but the little one was fully alive and yes – he will not die. Masked faces with gloved hands watched this defenceless little pup, who just a few days ago was bliss fully running in circles playing with his mother and siblings. They nodded in agreement that this surely was the “Maximum Tolerated Dose” (MTD) for the pesticide that the puppy can with stand. The dose at which the animal shows close to fatal signs – the dose at which the animal will suffer excruciating pain but will not die.
Based on the Maximum Tolerated Dose (MTD) for each test substance, acute, sub- acute sub- chronic and chronic studies (7 days, 28 days, 90 days, 180 days and even one year studies) are conducted on dogs even before they are one year old.

Dogs used in toxicity testing die when they are forced to inhale toxic fumes of the test substance or when they succumb to the drug / agrochemical (chemicals which are in reality just poisons used to kill weeds, insects, fungi, etc.) force fed to them. Yet others linger on in sub- chronic and chronic tests as their bodies’ battle the poison of the test substance given in low doses for months on end. Helpless and defenceless, with no relief from the bitter pain, they are forced to endure, they cower on the cold floor in laboratories, cringing in fear for the next dose to come. For weeks and months on end they will writhe in pain with bleeding stomach ulcers, breaking into bouts of repeated convulsions and seizures that throw them uncontrollably against the metal cages as the poison destroys their bodies and minds. Slowly and surely they will turn yellow with jaundice and bodies turn moribund as their livers cease to function. Yet, some linger fighting death but only to be killed at the end of the study and their frail bodies are autopsied. In non-terminal called ‘pharmaco –kinetic’ studies dogs are tested hundreds of times over until they die in sheer agony of being used over and over again or killed as they are “no more fit’ to be used in more experiments.

Dogs have been used in toxicity testing more as a matter of convenience than on a scientific basis. The soundness of the dog model to predict ‘toxicity levels in human beings’ and the ethics of using the dog – a social and sentient vertebrate – has remained unchallenged for over half a century even though there has been evidence to the contrary.

In the late 1990’s scientists demonstrated that dogs were not required for the prediction of safe doses for humans. The well-known scientific basis for this failure is because most canine Cytochrome P450 Enzymes (CYPs)—the major enzymes involved in drug metabolism are different to those in humans and hence extrapolating toxicity data between species ( dogs to humans) is unrealistic and futile.

However, the decadence of using dogs in toxicity testing has gone on far too long and has been far too deeply engrained in regulatory guidelines, both international and national, rendering this practice a false halo of being a ‘scientific need for the cause of human welfare and health’. This has created a seemingly formidable wall between truth and reality- deterring every right-thinking citizen and the tax payer from opposing this cruel practice.

Besides the unrelenting cruelty in testing in itself, the use of dogs as a laboratory animal has provided a fertile ground for a prolific multi- billion dollar beagle breeding business the USA, UK and China. These dogs born in claustrophobic puppy mills would never know the warmth of sunshine or human touch, are born only to suffer and die in laboratories. They are shipped across continents as cargo for weeks on end, stashed in cages only to be tested on even before they reach 9 months of age.

Every pet dog owner will vouch that dogs are perceptive, cognitive, intuitive and capable of positive emotions of love and empathy. The laboratory beagles is no different from your pet dog at home. Imagine your dear pet dog being caged for life and fed a poison slowly until the poison robs him of his very health and finally kills him. Would you watch this in silence?

Noted canine researcher and psychologist Stanley Coren surmises that based on several behavioural measures, a dogs’ mental abilities are close to a human child in the age of 2 to 2.5 years. Yes, the dog – “Man’s best friend” – is no less than a human child. Not surprisingly so.

As we face this realty of millions of dogs needlessly suffering and dying in labs, let us pledge today that their cries will NOT go unheard anymore and their suffering will NOT go unseen anymore. Join the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA) by filling out this form- http://bit.ly/CPCSEANominee

To join the “Sound of Silence Campaign” -to say “NO” to the use of dogs in testing go to http://chn.ge/2aG3rtB

Shiranee Pereira

About the author – Dr. Shiranee Pereira worked with the ICAR, GOI as senior scientist for 22 years and is the Co- Founder of People for Animals, Chennai. She has been associated with the CPCSEA, since 2000 both as Expert Consultant and as a member of the national committee. During her tenure with the CPCSEA, she was instrumental in bringing out national guidelines that limits re-use and mandates the rehabilitation of equines and dogs used in laboratories .She initiated in 2007 the national campaign to stop the use of animals in dissection, which resulted In the ban in use of animals in biological sciences in 2012 saving more than 18,000 animals annually. For the very first time in India, she introduced the science of alternatives to the use of animals in research /testing, with a national conference on alternatives in 2002 in New Delhi. She founded the Mahatma Gandhi Doerenkamp Centre (MGDC) for the use of alternatives to animals in research and education in 2009 in Bharathidasan University, Tiruchi– which in 2016 has been declared as the National Centre for Alternatives to Animal Use under the University Grants Commission.


Situating Animal Rights in the UP Conundrum

Years and years of plight for the innumerable cows, buffaloes and other animals in the ILLEGAL slaughter houses panned across the country seems to have taken a centre stage with sudden crackdowns, with Uttar Pradesh electing Adityanath Yogi as the CM. Within hours of his appointment, illegal abattoirs were being shut down in the state. What animal rights activists have been fighting for years and years, happened in a matter of hours! The aftermath? Meat sellers in Uttar Pradesh, one of India’s largest meat-producing states, decide to go on an indefinite strike. Even the registered ones (about 41 of them) are feeling the heat because of supply shortage and fear of action by government agencies. They are worried about the impact of this sudden move on their livelihood and their uncertain future. Even the chicken, fish sellers have joined the strike.

This move calls for a more in-depth analysis on what it means for the animals in our country, and more importantly, distinguish politics and religion from the fates of millions of sentient beings who are incoherent of these human derived concepts. FIAPO firmly believes that animal suffering needs to come to an end in recognition of their rights and not let politics or religion dominate the fate of animals. Else, once animals have served their need in the political jigsaw, the exploitation and abuse will continue – and we in the animal rights movement will continue to rue “politics” and “politicians”.

We are rejoicing that with the shutting down of slaughter houses, thousands of animals will live to see another day. That the issue of illegal slaughter has been brought center-stage. That today, animals are at least a part of the conversation. But are animals truly a part of the conversation? But do animals matter, or is the agenda – again – being dominated by religion and communities? Are animals mere pawns in a political game? The intrinsic value of animals continues to be ignored – slaughter houses need to close because animals have rights, because animals aren’t a commodity, and animals are certainly not food. When the rights of animals are recognized, that’s when we’ll be celebrating the closing of slaughterhouses. Not today. Not yet.


The Directory of Over 280 Animal Rights Organisations in India

If you are reading this, chances are, that you are already associated with the Indian Animal Rights Community and hence would understand the importance of connecting within the community one another at good times and bad. Some of the most successful people in world history have passed on their wisdom on the importance of this one word- NETWORKING.

But networking can be hard, when we don’t know each other! In FIAPO’s attempt to bring together a platform to help us connect, enriching self through collaborative learning and experiences, I am delighted to present to you the directory of animal rights organisations in India – its first draft is available here- http://www.fiapo.org/our-network/our-members and we will keep growing and adding to it as we come across more NGOs.

By means of action, FIAPO is constantly engaging with stakeholders collaboratively or confrontationally through research, lobbying and education. We work with, and build the movement through networking, training, direct action and mobilisation. Created for the movement, by the movement, we now have over 80 members and over 200 supporter organisations on board, across the country.

Some organisations are animal rescue centers, some have a humane education emphasis; some are experienced and some are newly-established, but each share in common the desire to reduce and end animal suffering at all levels—from street dogs to dairy cows; from wildlife protection to saving marine animals; from zoos and circuses to animals used in laboratory experiments.

I’d like to take this opportunity to invite more animal rights organisations working primarily for animal rights in India and join the NGO-network of animal rights workers, activists, supporters, advocates, campaigners for the rights of animals in India- http://www.fiapo.org/apply-for-membership/

If you believe in justice for animals, add your voice to the growing movement!

Regards,
Varda Mehrotra,
Director,
Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisation (FIAPO)
www.fiapo.org


FIAPO and the Tale of the Cat-astrophic Science Experiment for Young School Children!

It is only recently, that I have started working in the animal protection domain, but the work I do and the impact it creates often leaves me spell-bound. Sometimes, things that spell ‘cruelty’, might seem small and we may even miss them but the impact they could have on those around us something to be extremely weary off.

Recently, I came across one such incident where an environmental studies textbook was asking students to conduct a fatal experiment on cats. Imagine, asking children as young as 9 to suffocate a kitten on the pretext of an experiment to understand the importance of breathing! while, animal rights activists, parents, media and even celebrities, unanimously roared with dissent, my biggest concern was how can we get this removed as soon as possible and how come people had failed to notice it?

Naturally, I too was appalled at the situation and immediately reached out to my fellow animal rights activists to seek their guidance on what can be done. We had to take some action and fast! So, we reached out to the publication house- PP Publications to remove the illegal (and unethical) content advocating for the cruel experiment on kittens.

With the exchange of a few phone calls and emails with the publishing house, we guided them on the laws of the land around animal rights and why the content shared was unlawful (and not to mention, utterly unethical!). We informed them on how killing of an animal is illegal and being cruel to animals is and as defined under Section 11 of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Cruelty or killing is a cognizable offence under Section 428 and Section 429 of the Indian Penal Code.

After waiting for what seemed like days and many more discussions later, the publication agreed to the absurdity and apologised for the misleading content with a written regret, committing to the following:

  • Immediate withdrawal of the publication from the distributors
  • To not sell from the existing stock
  • Not reprint the same content for the next academic year
  • To be mindful of things published about animals, especially something unethical and illegal and be regardful of people’s sentiments

You can read the full letter here (http://www.fiapo.org/newsandevents/letter-from-p-p-publications)

As a part of the unanimous voice for animal rights in India, I believe in the sanctity of respecting all life forms, and strongly believe that the seeds of compassion be planted in young minds, early on in childhood. Hence, with utter humility, I request all you parents, teachers, institutions, corporates and everybody else, to please be mindful of any such discrepancies in our educational bodies, immediately take action against anyone violating the laws and spread awareness about the same to your friends, family and network, so that situations likes these can be avoided in future. Remember, it is the moral duty of each one of us to stand up and speak against what we believe is wrong. While, things may look too straitjacketed or difficult to change, we still must fight for what we believe in!

You can visit www.fileanfir.fiapo.org for more information on the animal protection laws of India.

At the end, I’d like to close with my favourite quote-

“Compassion is the basis of morality.” ― Arthur Schopenhauer