Care for the Strays
Shiela Sarkar is a familiar face for people who frequently visit Galleria, Vyapar Kendra and some dog-friendly spots in and around DLF phase 4. Many times you would find her cleaning the temporary kennels of the dogs, giving medicine to them or just feeding the line of strays who happily come to her or lick her to show their gratitude.
A resident of Gurgaon for two decades now Sheila looks after the medical needs and meals of almost 45 to 50 dogs living in the vicinity of DLF Phase 4, Galleria, Cross Point and Cyber City for about eight years.
Talking about the attitude towards stray animals in Gurgaon, Sheila feels that there is a lot to be done and people are not much concerned about the condition of strays. “In Galleria, the mattress and kennel of an ailing old dog were removed as it didn’t look good in the ‘premium market’ place. The poor dog was left unsheltered and uncared for.” Compassion is the most profound human values; she feels.
What set the ball rolling?
An ex-employee of Nokia, Sheila, would often come down from her office in Cyber City for a post-lunch stroll or evening break. She came across a dog who had just delivered 5-6 puppies. She would feed them biscuits and other little treats. She noticed that a car would come in the evening at a fixed time and the puppies would run towards the car and waited patiently. It was a delivery van which happened to drop frozen meats to the restaurant in the nearby building. When the restaurants discarded these packets, the puppies would lick the leftover carcass and blood left in the packages joyfully.
“It was such a treat for them to lick away the frozen blood droplets in the packets. Seeing this sight, I realised that the puppies deserve better food and I started feeding them a meal of rice & chicken so that they don’t feed on scraps. Since then, I have never missed feeding my adopted strays even once in the last seven and a half years now.”
Remembering her late mother, Sheila says, “when my mother was very sick and was in the ICU; still, she would insist that the driver or I go to feed the strays as they would be waiting for their meal. Not a dog should stay hungry! Such was the sense of her commitment to the purpose.’’ On the day of the cremation of her mother, also the dogs were fed.
Sheila looks after one meal a day of her adopted strays. Some get their meals during the first half of the day while others during the evening. A typical meal comprises rice & chicken plus packaged dog food. In addition to this, she also feeds 13 dogs twice a month behind Supermart 1. She sends 20 kg bags of readymade dog food for them and also looks after their medical requirements. She bears all the expenses incurred for her passion for compassion for the four-legged.
“There is an old abandoned dog extremely unwell in Galleria who is suffering from Mega oesophagus and earlier had spondylitis too. I have done whatever possible I can for him. The dog has more or less recovered from spondylitis, but the mega oesophagus is not curable, only managed with care. Another case she refers was of a dog with multiple tumours. She got the scans or the dog done and looked after all its further treatment. Friendicoes is another place I often go-to for any medical requirements of the animals,” she shares.
Most societies in Gurgaon do not encourage strays, and people often want them removed from the premises. The sensitisation is yet to come. Some youngsters still come forward for the welfare of the strays, but by and large, the supporters are less, feel Sheila and other dog lovers in the city.
A qualified Chartered Accountant, Sheila now wants to give back to society and dedicate her time to reach out to those who need love and care. “I actively work for animals and also do care visits for the abandoned old people in Good Earth Foundation. I like to spend time with them and meet them whenever I can. So much more happiness one feels in the heart when we spread smile and comfort to others in the purest, simple ways when we reach out to them.
“Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.’’ Schopenhauer