Published: 01st May 2019
International Month of Fostering: Why Pradeesh Chowraa is every Chennai stray's BFF
A key accounts manager who went on to start adoption and animal rescue group Safe Paws, Pradeesh is among the increasing bunch of animal welfare workers who is keeping Chennai's strays safe and fed.
Pradeesh Chowraa is a key accounts manager by day. The 30-year-old alumnus of the College of Engineering, Guindy has what you'd consider a regular desk job. But once he sheds that avatar, there's a whole other world that he thrives in — and hundreds of once-homeless dogs and cats are more than thankful for this switchover. The man behind the Chennai-based Safe Paws Rescue and Adoption Centre, Chowraa has, along with a team of volunteers, conducted 16 pet adoption drives over the last 3 years, and has helped find a home for more than 200 dogs and cats.
Though they started off small, they now have as many as 50 volunteers during their adoption drives — ten of whom are committed to rescuing and fostering dogs and cats who are then brought to the adoption drives where a permanent home is found for them. “My next step is to get us registered as an NGO,” says Chowraa of his burgeoning plans.
Growing up, he sort of became acquainted with all kinds of animals, but found that he had this special thing for dogs. “My love for animals started because of my grandmother, who used to raise livestock,” he says by way of explanation, “She is the one who inspired me to start this foundation.” His first pet is a dog called Tommy, who is now 14. After he got Tommy, his tribe sort of grew and grew to the point where he now houses 22 dogs — all of which are indies — and continues to rescue and foster many more.
Centre of Attraction: Pradeesh with a couple of volunteers at The Bark in Alwarpet
Chowraa manages to pay for the care of the animals (this includes healthcare, food and boarding) himself, barring the odd fundraiser and call for funding assistance. For the adoption drives, they've managed to find good people to lend a hand or a venue or two — food is sponsored by Bow Chow and the venue is usually sponsored by the owners themselves — drives have been conducted at The Bark Cafe in Alwarpet, Heart2Heart Veterinary Hospital in Santhome, Thanigai Pet Care Hospital in Velachery and Pets 101 in Besant Nagar, thus far. The ultimate goal, though, is to ensure that more people adopt instead of paying for animals that, in turn, encourage breeders to run 'pup-making factories', “Personally, I don’t understand why people would pay for dogs and promote the breeding business when you can adopt a pup,” Pradeesh wonders.
A large part of what Chowraa does for Chennai's strays is simple — making sure that they have their daily bread. However, it is common to have neighbours who get in the way of feeding stray animals in the area. In this case, it is important to note that there is no law that prohibits anyone from feeding these animals. “If neighbours do get in the way, we just have to remind them we are completely within our rights to feed the animals,” says Pradeesh, before adding, “My neighbours have become accustomed to me feeding strays.”
Caring for strays usually takes a hit when there is a spate of medical worries. Or road accidents. Or a natural disaster of some sort. Animal abuse is another critical topic which is usually neglected in India. Police officers usually don’t accept complaints pertaining to animal abuse. “I had once registered a complaint against a man who sexually abused a dog in my area. We had to use the influence of a different police officer to even get the FIR registered and the accused was remanded for only a day,” Chowraa laments. Though there are numerous laws protecting animals in India, they are usually breached and the consequent action taken for it is not very imposing. For example, the punishment for killing a stray dog in India is merely a fine of Rs. 50.
Dog-Loving: Chowraa manages to pay for the care of the animals himself, barring the odd fundraiser and call for funding assistance
How an adoption happens:
Step 1: The adopting parents fill out forms and are given instructions on proper pet care
Step 2: Two house checks are done either by the foster parent or by volunteers and constant updates are expected
Step 3: Foster parents takes the animal back, in case it is found that proper care isn’t being given
The process of rescuing a pup:
- For a pup less than 45 days old - Fed with diluted milk, constituent and/or puppy pedigree.
- Once they cross the 45 day stage, they are vaccinated, dewormed and re-homed or released back in their natural habitat/area
- Older dogs are cared for in shelters as it is hard to bring them into a house where there is another pet
- Injured animals are taken to the vet, treated and are usually boarded there