WOW | Coffee Break

Fight for this love

Sneha Shrestha
Founder, Sneha’s Care Animal Shelter

What stirred your interest in animal welfare?

There was a time when I didn’t want a dog in my house. I was under the impression that direct touch between human and dog could be infectious. Then one evening my husband convinced me to get a puppy. After contemplating for a long time, I agreed. However, he surprised me with two puppies and this made me really angry. I did not let those puppies enter the house and made outdoors arrangements. A few days later, one of the puppies passed away due to cold weather. I blamed myself for her death and I couldn’t stop crying  and hugging  the deceased puppy. After few months, we got another dog, Zara, with whom I shared a very special bond. However the happiness was short lived as she was poisoned by one of our neighbours. This incident left me traumatised and broken. This is when I realised if a household pet under our surveillance could be poisoned, the street dogs were prone to more danger and cruelty. I began feeding dogs around my area continuously for few weeks. Then I tried raising awareness through a Facebook page.  I uploaded many pictures and the public response was amazing. It encouraged me to begin rescuing street dogs. For six months I took them to animal clinics for treatments and placed them in kennel club at my own expense. This is how I got the encouragement to open my shelter and fight for animal rights.

Should animals be set free or be kept at home as pets?

It depends on whether it’s a wild or domestic animal. If it’s the former, it is not a good idea to keep them away from their natural habitat. If it’s the latter, I am not against people having pets.

Your pets become a very important part of your life. They are your loyal friends. In some cases, they even help people suffering from depression. But having said that I am against people mistreating their pets, it’s not right to shut an animal in a cage all day and night. They are not showpieces.

“Most of the zoos have become an animal cruelty hotspot”

Also, there are many debates regarding animals in captivity. Zoos can support in-situ conservation. To some extent, they can even fulfil educational purposes. But that is only if they have strong guidelines that protect the rights of the animals. There are only a few zoos in the world which actually serve the purpose of animal conservation. Most zoos have become an animal cruelty hotspot. Specifically, the mini zoo trend needs to be stopped. They are just there for human entertainment.

What is your take on animal sacrifice?

Whether in the name of religion or consumption, it is animal cruelty. We all respect religion, that’s why we should respect the lives of all the creatures that are created by God.

Many animal activists and organisations have been fighting to promote animal welfare and stop such savage practices in Nepal. We have seen a tremendous change in the last five years. For instance, Gadhimai Festival. It has become a subject of debate, whether to stop animal sacrifice in religious sites or continue the trend. As far as I am aware the last decision of the Supreme Court on December 5 clearly mentions about protection of animals.

What should be done to promote animal welfare in the country?

I assume we already have strong laws which support wildlife conservation. However, we lack strong laws which support the welfare of livestock and household pets. In my opinion, the government needs to reconsider the legalisation of commercial breeding. It promotes animal cruelty in one way or the other. Also the Ministry of Education should think of introducing humane education in school and college curriculums.