Aditi Nair and her NGO Mypalclub have been rescuing and rehabilitating thousands of stray animals for years. She explains why she started down this journey, and what more is to be done.
Trigger warning: Animal abuse
Aditi Nair has been able to do what many of us can only dream of — marrying her passion and profession.
In 2010, while she was pursuing her MBA degree, she was challenged by her professor to find something she was passionate about. She recalls, “Dr Kaustubh Dhargalkar, who is also my mentor, would always ask me to look for my passion and what I could do about it. Meanwhile, I was deeply interested in animal welfare. However, I didn’t know how I could actually help animals.”
To find her answer, she set out on a journey across the country. In April that year, she began volunteering in animal welfare organisations across the country, starting from Kerala.
“I went to Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka…Later that year, I was selected to travel the country by the Tata Jagriti Yatra [a 14-day, 8,000 km train journey to help youngsters become entrepreneurs]. In those three months, I got an idea about what it takes to run animal shelters,” she tells The Better India.
At these shelters, Aditi often found herself overwhelmed by the condition of the animals, and a particular incident in Kerala hit her hard.
“A puppy — hardly about 15 days old — had been thrown over the compound of the NGO I was volunteering with. He hit his head and was unable to see properly. After working across the country, I returned to that NGO in July and that puppy was much better. I got him home with me, and he is still with me,” says Aditi.
That puppy, Bacchus, is the reason she decided to pursue animal welfare full time, says the 38-year-old.
Building a better city for animals
After coming back to Thane, Aditi began more research into the animal welfare sector. “There are a lot of people working for pets. The area I really found a gap in was stray animals. There is no proper infrastructure to take care of strays. Not many people are working in this area as there are hardly any profits.”
In 2010, the Thane resident — alongside a few like-minded individuals — began conducting drives for helping stray animals in her area. “We would ask people to come join us and look for stray animals, examine them, give them first aid, and deworm them. After veterinarians joined us, we started doing anti-rabies drives too.”
In 2014, these drives officially became her NGO Mypalclub.
“Initially we treated the animals and got them adopted. We helped 3,000 animals find homes. As we grew, we started doing more rescue work and were joined by veterinary doctors. What I found was that the animals suffered a lot when they were being transported for treatment. They were under a lot of stress and many didn’t make it. I realised that it would be better if they were treated at their location,” she adds.
In order to provide on field treatment, they started operating mobile medical units in 2017. The ambulances are equipped with emergency oxygen and medical facilities to provide on-the-spot treatment. Aditi says that there is a para veterinary worker, driver and handler in each unit.
“By treating the animal on the field, we involve the residents of the particular area. It’s only when the community gets involved that the animal stands a chance of living a better life,” explains Aditi.
“Our work is not over after treating the animal on day one. We follow up daily till the animal is better. We teach residents who are around the animals how to take care of them, how often they have to be given saline, how to apply the ointments for them, etc” she adds.
She also says that they educate people wherever they go on what diet can be offered to cats and dogs.
“Most people give cow’s milk to dogs and cats, which they shouldn’t. They are usually lactose intolerant. [We tell them that] even rotis or any wheat and maida products should be avoided. It’s better to give khichdi. So we try our best to ensure that the animal is cared for well. For example, in case of paralysis, they can’t defecate themselves. We teach people how to help them do that. For tick and flea care, you can simply massage eucalyptus oil on the skin.”
Mypalclub focuses on low-income areas in Thane. “Large societies and people with resources know that they can take the animal to a veterinarian. They have the resources for the same. We work in places where they don’t. In certain cases, where people can’t afford the medicines, we pay for that. Where people don’t have the means, we help them with pet food also.”
Helping 1,000 animals a month
Mypalclub has three vehicles and their units help 45-50 animals every day, as well as about 1,000 animals a month, says Aditi, adding that they have helped over 40,000 animals like cats, dogs, birds, donkeys, and cows so far. They also specialise in taking care of geriatric, disabled and special needs animals.
“We have 55 animals under our care. People are not interested in adopting such animals, who actually need utmost care. We also do comprehensive checkups for street animals just like a pet would get.
The team of 18 works on private donations, online donations and crowdfunding campaigns. What could help them, they note, is proper government infrastructure.
“Private organisations like mine can only do so much. We need mobile medical units across the country, which is only possible by the state or central governments. My dream is to have a 911 kind of emergency helpline for animals in India,” she says.
Above all else, Aditi seeks compassion from people.
“Most of the animals we treat are road accident victims. Many times, these animals die. Why? Because two minutes of the driver’s time is more valuable than an animal’s life,” she says.
“Next time, please spare two minutes if you see any human/animal in front of your car/bike. Every life is important.”
To help Mypalclub, you can donate here or on this UPI ID: mab.037322047100027@axisbank. You can also call them on 9324699829.