We all love having pets at home. Be it dogs, cats or, if you are brave enough, even snakes, pets add a dose of happiness to our lives. However, when it comes to animals out on the streets, most of us are pretty indifferent and some are even, at times, downright cruel to them. But once in a while, people are willing to consider that the lives of these animals are just as important as their own. Sanzivani, Shaili Malla and Kushal Karki, all 18-year-olds, are the minds behind Life with Furs, an initiative that rescues animals and helps them find a loving home.
Sanzivani confesses that she has always loved animals, ever since she was a kid. Like many people on the internet wanting to share photos of their pets, she opened an Instagram page dedicated to her eight cute dogs. Then one day, her friend told her about these 12 puppies whose mother had been killed in a hit and run accident. “I decided to post their photos on Instagram to see if anyone wanted to give them a stable home. What surprised me the most was that all 12 pups were adopted within two months,” says Sanzivani.
Then, Karki and Malla, who had been adopting and helping stray dogs in their own little ways, contacted Sanzivani to rescue a dog that had lost a leg and was also plagued by a tumor in Hattiban. Together, they raised enough money for an operation (which can be quite expensive) and got the dog the treatment it required. “After I posted about Kale (the dog), people were really sympathetic and we were able to collect Rs 26,000 for his operation,” says Sanzivani. Kale was then left with Srijana Thakuri – a dog rescuer with more than 250 dogs under her care. After rescuing Kale, the trio started Life with Furs. That was in 2016.
The trio makes sure that they are very transparent about the donations they receive. “We are not trying to run a business. If anyone wants to take one of the animals home, we won’t charge for it. We aren’t selling the animals even though up until that point we will have spent quite some money taking care of it,” says Sanzivani. They also make sure they go on regular follow-ups to see if the animals are receiving the care they deserve.
Animals like male calves, aged dogs and cats, puppy litters are often left on the road or the riverside as people consider them to be useless or a burden. “Many people who are going abroad and can’t take their pets with them also request us to find them a new home,” says Sanzivani. According to her, people still need to know that rather than abandoning pets on the street it’s better to contact animal rescue places like Life with Furs, Project Fade, and Together For Paws and have them find their pets a new home.
However, Sanzivani also adds that not all people are indifferent towards street animals. People often approach them through their Instagram page in order to adopt or ask for help. They also receive information about dogs, puppies, and calves that were abandoned and left on the street. As of now, with the help of Life with Furs (@lifewithfurs), anyone willing to do so can adopt different breeds of dogs and cats.
In one particular case, an 11-year-old girl called Sanzivani asking her to help rescue a dog that was hit by a vehicle near Satdobato in Lalitpur. “The little girl had somehow found my phone number and begged me to come to help the dog. It was her first rescue,” she says adding that small actions like these are equally important for the society to become aware about animal rights and together uplift the conditions of street animals.
She confesses that they have faced their fair share of problems while going about rescuing these abandoned animals. “The adults in my community think they should get rid of the local street dogs for a better society,” says Sanzivani. “And whenever I try to tell them otherwise, I get rebuked for being rude or disrespectful.”
Sanzivani also adds that some people don’t think twice before physically harming street animals. “Oftentimes when we go to talk to the person who has hurt a particular animal, they refuse to correct their actions and are, in turn, rude and aggressive,” she says. Apparently, there was a time when matters got so out of hand that the police had to intervene. A person had hit a pregnant dog and was refusing to take it to a vet. “The police asked the person to pay for the dogs’ treatment. He agreed but after the cops left this person and his friends threatened us and refused to pay,” she says.
But the objective of Life with Furs is not just to make people pay for the treatment of animals they have hurt and wounded. “There are many people who are willing to contribute for the treatment. We just want people to reflect on their actions and treat animals with kindness from then on,” says Sanzivani.
Sanzivani feels that many people often vent their frustrations on these innocent beings. This could also be because as children they were rarely reprimanded for causing harm to animals and educated about animal rights. “Some people love animals and will never hurt them. But one can’t assume everyone will grow up to be empathetic towards animals that aren’t their pets. The value must be instilled from childhood,” she concludes.