On a windy afternoon in Karachi, some teenagers play cricket outside their home, on the main road. Their game, however, was suddenly interrupted when they saw a stray dog roaming the neighborhood. Sniffing the garbage dumped near the sidewalk, the dog seemed to be looking for food. The children felt threatened, collectively decided to take a few stones from the ground, and began pelting them with the poor creature, hurting it.
For children, scaring dogs is a moment of victory. Something they celebrate with laughter and toddlers before continuing the game.
This is not the fault of children solely, because treating wild animals with cruelty is something they witness in their daily lives. Adults do it all the time, so children naturally internalize this mindless behavior.
Although it is a society that has had the opportunity to discover, grow, and adapt to change over many years, peaceful coexistence with animals is something most Pakistanis have not learned.
Cruelty and lack of empathy for animals have become normal, and above all, concepts such as animal welfare are often ridiculed for being underestimated.
But even with such a common negative attitude, there is a small segment of society that takes animal welfare very seriously. These people not only learn to live side by side with animals but also are equally devoted to protecting and caring for them.
Small amount, big heart
Arsalan Shikoh Khan was driving home from work one night when he saw a truck crashing into a cat in the Baloch Colony fly over in Karachi.
“I stopped my car, managed to take the injured cat from a busy road, and took it aside,” Khan, who works at TPL Insurance, told Express Tribune. “The cat is barely breathing, and is proven to need immediate medical assistance.”
Khan recently joined Facebook a page from Animal Rescue & Transport Service (ARTS) based in Karachi, so he decided to call them for help.
“They told me to take the cat to the nearest vet for first aid and assured me that their team was on their way. When I got home from the vet clinic with my cat, the ARTS team was waiting at my door. “
Fifteen days after the incident, Khan received good news regarding the recovery of the cat. What’s more, ARTS also arranges for families to adopt the cat.
Since that day, ARTS has been a rescue service for Khan’s animals.
“This is an extraordinary service and a sign that humans are still alive and developing. I will ask people to contribute to the organization so they can continue to help the voiceless souls who need us on the streets. “
Given the large number of cats, dogs and other wild animals in Karachi that are in dire need of food, shelter and medical care, there are very few non-governmental organizations that are tirelessly working to make a difference. However, they do not have the resources to carry out large-scale animal rescue operations.
Feeling the scarcity of animal rescue services in the city and the burden that must be borne by several large organizations due to scarcity of resources, a Karachi resident who is 28 years old, Muhammad Arsalan Rana decided to establish ARTS in 2018.
“A few years ago, my cat got sick and really needed treatment. Unfortunately, there are no veterinarians or rescue services available at night, “Rana said. “I had to wait a few hours for the clinic to open in the morning, but it was too late. My cat died because of the unavailability of timely medical care. That’s when I decided to change the face of animal rescue in Karachi and find ARTS. “
Rana aims to come with service all the time so that no animal must suffer because of the absence of a veterinarian at odd hours.
“Initially, I did two jobs and had to carry out rescue operations all night, completely alone. But after a year and a half, our services have gone a long way. Now, ARTS has a team of five passionate rescuers, together with our marketing head Madiha Ali who is responsible for fundraising, “he explained.
“We have also expanded our domestic rescue services to other parts of Pakistan, including Hyderabad, Lahore and Islamabad. Our goal is to expand the team and build a 24/7 hospital to serve more animals. “
So far, ARTS has protected and cared for more than a thousand animals, including pets and wild animals.
“In addition to rescuing and transporting sick and injured animals, we are also available for 24/7 search and rescue missions for missing pets,” Rana said. “Even though we are a paid service, we depend on donations if the owner or caller cannot pay for treatment.”
According to Rana, the adoption rate, unfortunately, is very low in the city because most people do not want to raise animals at home and care for them.
“Per estimates, only about 30 percent of the animals we have saved have been adopted. Even today, we have many animals, including kittens, puppies, and adult cats and dogs, who are waiting to love and care for the house. “
In addition to facing difficulties in finding people to adopt animals, raising funds for the project is also an uphill battle for ARTS, Rana said.
“Saving, caring and caring for animals that are not sponsored incur significant costs that we have to bear through donations. We take the animals to famous veterinarians in Karachi so that proper care is given to them, “he said. “In addition, our team also distributes food to keep hungry wild animals on the streets.”
Because the internet is full of fraud lately, it takes time for people to trust animal welfare organizations with their money. Fortunately, ARTS has great support from people throughout the city, thanks to its timely and efficient service, Rana said.
“Many people trust us and rely on our services now. Many families also send us their donations through our Facebook and Instagram pages, “said Rana. “People call us at different places in the city every day and pay us there and then for animal care, so things gradually improve.”
Tooba Rauf Malik, a Karachi-based HR professional and passionate cat lover, said he had used the ARTS rescue service four times in the past few months.
“I have seen cats that were injured on the road and could not be treated, therefore, I decided to contact ARTS via their Facebook page. To my surprise, the team reached the location within two hours, which greatly impressed me, “said Malik.
“There are other animal rescue services available in Karachi and they are doing the best they can. However due to lack of resources, this service is not timely with ARTS. Therefore, all of these organizations are doing extraordinary work and they must all applaud and be supported equally. “
Malik approached ARTS for the fourth time to rescue an injured Persian pet kitten.
“I trust their services, especially their timeliness, practicality and honesty. That’s why I immediately paid for treatment and they took care of everything, “he said.” The best thing about ARTS is that if someone cannot pay, they still provide care for animals through the donations they receive. They never say no to animals. “