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Outsourced in Seattle by an Animal Shelter in India

The pay is lousy, but the satisfaction is great

By Eileen Weintraub
The Seattle South Asian, September 2009

The 2004 tsunami struck just two weeks after I returned to Seattle from India. Like many of us here, I joined the intense fundraising and relief efforts. From crisis comes opportunity. Milky was a cat I had to leave behind though he desperately needed surgery. Miraculously, Dr. Bosmat Gal, an experienced veterinarian from Boston who volunteered to go to the affected area, gave Milky the surgery he needed.

India and its animals have become a full-time occupation for me. I tell everyone I'm “reverse outsourced.” That is, I work in the 'states by computer for an Indian “business.” That business is helping India’s animals for no pay, long hours, sleepless nights full of worry - and priceless satisfaction.

It all started in 2003 when I first visited India's animal shelters. These dedicated charities wear many hats: rescue facilities for abandoned pet dogs and cats; gaushalas for cows; safe havens for all kinds of wildlife; spay/neuter camps for community dogs; defenders of the environment; promoters of vegetarianism; and even enforcers of animal welfare laws, among other things.

It should be no surprise that the civilization that gave us ahimsa, the ethic of harmlessness, has the best animal welfare laws in the world. Unfortunately, obeying those laws is quite another story.

The most effective animal shelter I visited was in Visakhapatnam on the east coast of India in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The Visakha Society for Protection and Care of Animals, or VSPCA, had been working hard since 1996 to make a vast difference for Vizag’s animals. Thanks to VSPCA, you will see no starving cows on the streets (they're in VSPCA's shelter) and almost all the street dogs are ear-notched: graduates of the shelter's spay/neuter/vaccination program. In total, VSPCA has fixed nearly 70,000 street dogs and is branching out beyond the city. By controlling the dog (and cat) overpopulation that affects most of India, an incalculable amount of animal abuse and suffering has been prevented. If you're impressed, so was I. So I volunteered to become VSPCA's "outsourced" global fundraiser. Which means it's my job to boast a little more about VSPCA's multiple award-winning achievements. These include:

  1. Protecting endangered species, like the sea turtles of the Bay of Bengal.
  2. Rescuing farm animals during floods.
  3. Teaching everyone from school children to police cadets (over 3000 of them) the ABCs of humane animal treatment.
  4. Running a free ambulance service for injured and abused animals.
  5. Providing full-time sanctuary, on three beautiful acres, for some 700 cows and buffaloes rescued from India's illegal meat trade (and apprehending the criminals who perpetrate it) and 300 other rescued animals.
  6. Providing rewarding, well-paying jobs for over 40 Telugu- speaking workers from the surrounding villages.
Cadets training

Police cadets at the VSPCA training

Thanks to rapid industrialization and an exploding population, India is facing the same environmental challenges as we do. Even factory farming is making inroads in the production of chicken and eggs. How can India grow while ensuring a livable future for its people and animals?

I like to imagine India “leapfrogging” to an environmentally progressive new order much as it is leapfrogging technologically. When it comes to animals, this could ironically mean looking over one's shoulder. Gandhi said: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” For Gandhi that included following the Hindu tradition of vegetarianism. Today, another great Indian, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the Nobel prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is advocating that people follow a vegetarian diet at least one day a week, preferably seven days, to fight global warming. Climate scientists like Pachauri know that animal protein has a massively destructive environmental footprint (including greenhouse gas emissions) compared to plant proteins such as the Indian dietary staples of legumes, potatoes, wheat and rice..

Advocating for a humane and eco-friendly diet is also something Help Animals India does. Would you like to get involved? Please contact us at:

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress
can be judged by the way its animals are treated.