Mother Of Dogs: She Rescues Paralysed, Injured & Handicapped Stray Dogs Sent For Mercy Killing

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One day, when Anuradha Mishra was travelling from Ghaziabad to Noida, she spotted a frail dog, helplessly stuck in a bog. With every passing second, the poor creature was sinking deeper and deeper in the mud. Anuradha knew if she doesn’t rescue him, he doesn’t stand a chance at surviving. Immediately, she stepped out of the car and ran into the bog, risking her own life. Standing dangerously in knee-deep mud, she finally managed to rescue the dog after a long struggle. She took him to her shelter – Hope 4 Speechless Souls – where he was named ‘Daldal’ (bog) and turned out to be the happiest, most playful dog among 80 other canines. For the past five years, Anuradha has been rescuing stray dogs – paralysed, injured, handicapped, comatose or senile – who are selected for ‘Put To Sleep’ (PTS), the watered down term for mercy killing.

Hope 4 Speechless Souls
The rescued dogs at the shelter

Anuradha, who fondly refers to the dogs as her ‘babies’, is truly a mother for these ‘speechless souls’, who otherwise would have perished in street corners or garbage dumps. “I have been rescuing and taking 24 x 7 care of my babies for the last few years. Many of them cannot even move on their own. Starting from their medical care, feeding them to cleaning their droppings, I do everything myself. My babies are everything for me,” shares Anuradha with Efforts For Good.

How ‘Hope 4 Speechless Souls’ started

Since sixteen, Anuradha has been rescuing stray dogs from the streets, taking them to doctors for treatment and creating a better life for them. “I used to see many dogs who are inborn blind or differently-abled or have been paralysed in accidents. The dog shelters thought it better to kill them off within seconds with an injection, in an attempt to relieve them from their pain and struggles. It really pained me,” shares Anuradha.

Hope 4 Speechless Souls
Anuradha with a dog who is blind

A staunch opposer of PTS, Anuradha decided to take these dogs in with herself. She booked a flat exclusively for her dog-babies who had been declared for ‘PTS’ by vets. She enrolled herself for a veterinary training course at Noida Animal Hospital and has been performing all surgeries and treatments of her dogs by herself. “I tell you, 90% of the dogs I have treated have gotten better and started walking and playing on their own. All they need is a little love and care from us,” she shares.
However, soon, neighbours started expressing their displeasure about having so many stray dogs in a residential complex, forcing Anuradha to move out with her babies. She bought a plot of land amidst the wilderness in Noida outskirts and set up a canine shelter. Dog lovers across the Delhi-NCR region rescue strays and bring them to her shelter. “They fear that government animal shelters or veterinary care centres would put these dogs to sleep. But, they know Anuradha Ma’am will accept them all in her care,” she smiles.

Hope 4 Speechless Souls
Warm and happy

Taking care of eighty dogs on her own

Giving eighty dogs the utmost love and care is no cakewalk, but Anuradha’s dedication overcomes all hurdles she encounters. Though her shelter has a few volunteers, no one else loves and nurses the dogs like her.
“Recently there was the hailstorm in Noida, my babies were so scared,” she says, adding how her shelter is located in an obscure location, where heavy rains, monsoon floods and high tides from the Yamuna are common. During such days, she stays day and night in a room with the terrified dogs, where water or rain cannot reach.

Hope 4 Speechless Souls
With her ‘babies’

Anuradha prefers not to offer her ‘babies’ up for adoption, as she has faced some bad experiences. “People adopt stray dogs, but I have seen many abandon them later, and opting for foreign breeds. I don’t want my babies to be treated that way,” she shares in a disheartened tone. She runs a skin-care product business and channelises all her savings towards her helpless ‘babies’. “I have grown very sceptical now. Once, fraudsters tried to raise money online using pictures of my pets. So I try to keep the management as much to myself as possible,” she informs.

Some heartwarming stories of rescued dogs

The unsung mother of countless street dogs shares some heartwarming stories. Courage was another dog whom she rescued in a dying condition from a dump yard, lying motionless beneath a heap of garbage. He spent the last four years of his life happily in Anuradha’s shelter.
“There was a mother, who faced an accident and went into a coma, after giving birth to her puppies. I was worried that if she dies, her newborn puppies will also perish. I gave her the best medication, rest and care for nearly a month. To my disbelief, she recovered from coma and became a doting mother,” she narrates.
“There was a menace in Delhi, where some miscreants were hammering stray dogs on their head, and killing them for meat. There was one dog, who was hit on the head and left to succumb to death in the cold. I spent sleepless night treating him, and now look how big and strong he has grown,” says Anuradha.

“I think that just because they cannot express themselves, we should not position ourselves as God and decide their life and death. If God has given them the chance to live even after accidents or birth anomalies, who are we to kill them?” she wants to ask everyone. “I will take care of my babies till my last breath,” she signs off.

Also Read: Mumbai: At India’s First Cat Cafe, Enjoy A Hot Cuppa In The Company Of Rescued Cats & May Be Take One Home

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MyStory: “Two Months After I Joined IIT For My PhD I Was Diagnosed With TB”

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A person suffering from Tuberculosis (TB) not only battles the ‘Mycobacterium tuberculosis’ bacteria inside his lungs but also from the stigma attached to the disease. It weakens the patients in many different ways in their fight against the dreaded disease.  

My fight with TB was also filled with stigma. I joined IIT Kharagpur for my PhD in January 2015. Two months later, in March 2015, I was diagnosed with TB. I had to take sick leave from March 2015 that eventually lasted till June 2016. Initially, I did not respond well to medication. Further tests revealed that I had multidrug-resistant TB (MDR TB). This meant that the type of TB I had was resistant to two or more of the antitubercular medication I was taking.

About a year after the intensive phase of my treatment, I felt better and applied for readmission to IIT in July 2016. A prerequisite for rejoining was that my faculty members had to verify my application. With the formalities completed, I resumed my education, but I felt that something was amiss. 

My guide indicated that he did not want his work to suffer on account of my illness. I also heard from a senior colleague that my guide had said that I would spread the disease like an ‘infested animal’. I was disheartened at being subjected to this indignity by my supposed mentor.

However, my primary concern was defeating TB, so I didn’t dwell on it. Today, as I reflect on it, I realise the reasons behind the stigma were ignorance as well as fear.

Even among the educated, there are misconceptions about TB. People think all forms of TB are contagious. Others believe the patient is infectious for the entire length of the treatment. Some even believe that TB spreads through touch. This breeds the fear of contracting the illness.

As we know, people stigmatise and discriminate when they fear. I felt the impact of the stigma on two levels – in my professional life and my personal life.

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Professionally, the reluctance of my supervisor to mentor me and his discouragement affected me. I could not decide whether I should wait for the IIT authorities to tell me to leave or drop out. That decision was made for me by luck when I found out that my CSIR grant application was never processed. 

This meant that I would have to pay for my education. Given the expenditure on my treatment, this was unaffordable for me. This was the final nail in the coffin. I was forced to drop out and could not go back to completing my PhD.

What I faced was not technically illegal. I was discouraged from doing my PhD, but it was still a form of stigma. The external stigma I faced led to depression and isolation. 

Eventually, I realised I had to fight. The treatment for TB is difficult, requiring strict compliance and the management of side effects, and these demands resolve. I began motivating myself. I began following a proper diet and completing my treatment to ensure I could recover. I also turned to books as they transported me to other worlds and helped with my isolation. I also focused on reviving my old relationships.

Gradually, things improved. I could not proceed on my desired career path, but I am an educator now. I constantly realise that I have a role to play in shaping young minds. 

Workplace stigma has tangible consequences. It affects an individual’s career, financial opportunities and their right to work with dignity. So what can we do to address this stigma? 

First, we need to sensitise people by educating them about TB, and the impact stigma has on patients.

Another measure is group counselling involving the patient, the employer and the immediate supervisor. Informal versions of these sessions happen in the workplace in the context of illnesses like cancer. Why should it be any different for TB? 

The goal of this session would be to ensure that the patient is in a supportive environment. 

Finally, at a systemic level, there needs to be a workplace policy on stigma mitigation and a mechanism where the patients can anonymously register their concerns about stigma at the workplace.

A person’s career or job is often their calling and a provider of financial security. Workplace stigma creates a hostile work environment, affecting a person’s ability to do their job and their financial security. Financial insecurity and stigma make it harder for the patient to fight TB both in terms of means and motivation. Therefore, addressing stigma in the workplace is critical to patient well-being and recovery but also to their right to work with dignity.

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It's not how much we give
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