Most of us claim to be animal lovers; we wince in pain or close our eyes and turn away when we see a wounded mongrel on the road thinking, well, it’s going to die anyway, or hoping that someone else will come up to help it or that it’s better that the poor dog dies than suffer.
These are some of the trivial thoughts that don’t enter the minds of Ganesh Nayak and his wife, Dheerija, the founders of ‘Animals Matter to Me (Mumbai)’, one of the most active NGOs in Mumbai, dedicated to the welfare of animals and birds – be it pets or stray. This is one of those few NGOs that have set a new standard for animal welfare in the city that makes us all sit up and take notice.
Meet Ganesh, a 34-year-old Post Graduate in Events and Marketing, who runs his own Corporate Gifting firm and his wife, 31-year-old Dheeraja is a pilot for Air India, who have come together to take on this mission wholeheartedly.
“As a child I was always surrounded with animals at our residence, my mom Jaya Nayak is an ardent animal lover. Following her footsteps I got closer to animals and realized that I was very passionate and content in the company of animals. Luckily after marriage I got a wonderful partner who is equally crazy about animal welfare so it was a win win situation for me, and Animals Matter to Me (Mumbai) was born,” says Ganesh.
Started on 21st May, 2011, Animals Matter to Me (Mumbai) has more than 10,500 followers on Facebook that has members writing in offering to do volunteer work, seeking adoption for animals and help in spreading awareness. For Animals Matter To Me (Mumbai), this huge fan base means being able to connect with likeminded people who wish to help and offer support for the cause.
Animals Matter To Me (Mumbai) is an Animal Welfare Charitable Trust that was created with the aim of providing a safe home and shelter for abused, unwanted, orphaned animals, supporting other NGOs and Animal Welfare Associations to reach out to places faster and better and help in shelter management.
Animals Matter To Me (Mumbai) is an Independent Community that provides services for any and all animals in need. Here is a list of activities where Animals Matter To Me (Mumbai) has done significant work so far and plan to continue providing unending support to the four-legged and feathered creatures.
– Shelter Management – AMTM (Mumbai) have spent the last 12 months channelizing their efforts to improve the existing infrastructure and living conditions of more than 600 animals at the In Defence of Animals (IDA) shelter in Govandi, Mumbai. There, they have created 6 brand new dog kennels, 1 cattery and other repairs. In addition to IDA, AMTM have assisted in upgrading facilities for other groups, individuals and organizations like Ahimsa (Malad) and Paws (Thane) engaged in animal welfare in the Mumbai and Thane district.
– Feeding Sessions – Feeding sessions are conducted on a weekly basis or as required at various locations in the city through a network of dedicated animal welfare enthusiasts and through their very own volunteer base. This is done to improve the health of animals, and gain their trust so that they can be vaccinated with minimal man-animal conflict that has been created due to loss of habitat owing to rapid urbanization.
– Cats – This is one animal that has been neglected by the Municipal programme and whose population has been growing at an alarming rate owing to their semi-domestic nature. AMTM (Mumbai) have built a brand new cat enclosure at the IDA facility in Deonar with the help of donors and have several programmes in place for vaccination, sterilization and adoption of these fur balls.
How do they work
“As grass root workers we have more than 70 volunteers from different parts of Mumbai who can be called for emergencies pertaining to the locality close to them. Recently, more than 20 veterinary students have joined for professional experience as we do not engage in medication for any animal unless we have professional help,” mentions Ganesh.
All volunteers come from different fields of professional and personal lives; from software professionals to a local mechanics who have joined hands with Animals Matter To Me (Mumbai), to save and protect an animal in distress. Animals Matter To Me (Mumbai) considers itself lucky to get help and guidance from expert veterinary doctors practicing in Mumbai who trust the nature of work they put in and don’t charge a fee.
Animals Matter To Me (Mumbai) has created a system where all the details of volunteers such as time of volunteering, area of operation and other details are fed into the system that help Ganesh and Dheerija to get in touch with the free volunteer service to carry out rescue or other work. “Our volunteering is 24/7 be it night or day and we call it Am/ Pm = Amtm Mumbai,” quips Ganesh.
The services offered by Animals Matter To Me (Mumbai) are:
- Rescues & Re-homing
- Volunteering & Vaccination drives
- BMC Pet Licensing
- Qualified vet assistance & Vet students support
- Cat & Dog Sterilization
- Adoptions (Cat & Dog)
- Fund Raisers & Awareness Camps
- Avian / Reptiles Rescue
Challenges and Awareness
Ganesh adds, “There are instances when we do struggle with things like lack of transport, the need for a volunteer to reach the site in the shortest possible time, medicines, donations and many more situational struggles like availablitiy of doctors in the middle of night. But as they say there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel ‘, we have bailed out every animal or bird that came to us. A lot of presentations have been conducted at corporate companies who have always come forward to help our cause. Obstacles make us stronger to evaluate and handle the situation in a better way.”
Talk about support from the film and television fraternity, then there is no doubt about their unending support to Animals Matter To Me (Mumbai.) As Ganesh mentions. “Anju Mahendroo is the backbone of our organization while the actor and comedian Gaurav Gera inspired us to go ahead with our idea. Tejaswini Kolhapuri, Aditya Pancholi, Sharad Kelkar, Keerthi Kelkar, Suresh Menon, Sada Sayed, Udita Goswami, Narayani Shastri and Raveena Tandon have supported us in times of need.”
The best way to prevent cruelty to animals is to send messages of compassion and humanity towards animals, and children in schools are the best medium to counsel as they are the next generation who would drive this message across. Animals Matter To Me (Mumbai), also invest a lot of time and effort in conducting presentations in many International, Local and BMC schools, road shows packed with awareness programs and vaccination drives with the help of local vets and druggists.
Both electronic and print media have played a very important role in sending a strong message to the masses about any form of cruelty to an animal. The work and effort put in by Animals Matter to Me (Mumbai) have been featured in leading dailies like the Times of India , Afternoon, Midday and have also been covered on ‘Heavy Petting’ on NDTV Good Times.
A thorough check is done about the family to ascertain whether they are ready in all aspects and will the animal get adequate love and attention once adopted. Ganesh mentions, “Since adoptions of strays and unwanted pets are critical, we have a detailed and easy ‘pre-adoption’ form that we ask the families to fill up to help us understand and review them before they wish adopt a pet. “
Apart from this, the adopted animal is visited four times in a year to ascertain its health and well being, where a ‘post adoption’ form filled up on every visit. Veterinary students and associated vets offer counseling and help to families on pet care and maintenance if the need arises.
Work done so far
So far, Animals Matter To Me (Mumbai) have rescued more than 750 animals and re-homed more than 400 of the furry friends since the last 15 months since their official inception. “Every rescue or an adoption into a good family is an exceptional experience of happiness and content,” feels Ganesh.
1) Report an animal in distress
2) Adopt an animal
3) Donate cash
4) Donate food (Rice, TurDal, Biscuits, Milk, Dog/Puppy Food, Cat/Kitten Food).
5) Donate any of the following: Cages, Surgery Tables, Stethoscopes, Cotton Balls, Q- Tips, Latex Gloves, Paper Towels, Old Newspapers, Old Clothes, Brooms, Dust pans, Disinfectants.
6) Place AMTM (Mumbai) donation boxes in your office space.
7) Volunteer for AMTM (Mumbai).
8 ) Spread a word about AMTM (Mumbai).
Funds donated will be used for sterilization of cats and dogs, medical treatment and rehabilitation of the injured/diseased animals, their transportation and for the repair and restoration work of shelters.
You can send cheque’s in favour of “Animals Matter To Me Mumbai” to
2 White Rose, N Dutta Marg,
4 bungalows, Andheri (W),
Online fund transfers can be done to the AMTM (Mumbai) saving bank account (SB a/c) in the name of “Animals Matter to Me, Mumbai”, SB Account number- 911010036376599, Axis Bank, MIDC branch, Andheri (E), Mumbai-400 093 . IFSC/ITGS Code: UTIB0000395. Receipts will be couriered to you.
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