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Sunday, September 18, 2011

One Year of Pony Love: A Commitment to the Cause and Care of “Working Animals”

Animal rights NGO, Samabhava organizes annual function, a Vegan India! report.

Bangalore, Rotary Club Auditorium, Lavalle Road, 17-Sept-2011: The plight of “working animals” in our country is comparable to the plight of the human workers in the unorganized sector. In the absence of adequate legislation or in the presence of poorly enforced legislation combined with the lack of will on the part of influential human counterparts, both suffer numerous injustices that have direct bearing on their health and safety. The next time you see a pony pulling a cart on the streets of Bangalore, do spare a few moments and think about this “working animal” that transports load, mostly pipes and other construction materials, from the core commercial areas of the city to destinations within the city to aid human economic activities. It is only just reasonable that these working ponies are treated fairly: treated for wounds that they are highly susceptible to and given old age care as opposed to being abandoned.

An organized effort to bring about change in the status of working animals

It requires organized efforts to bring about change in the status of working animals and Samabhava in the first year of its existence has made this change possible. Samabhava has brought together trained veterinarians, donors, NGOs, horse lovers, and pony caretakers on the same platform to think and act to better the status of working ponies in Bangalore. The result is something for all to be proud of and the result gives us hope: hope, that human compassion and fairness is not lost; it only needs to be kindled.

A working pony

In the first year of Samabhava’s existence, 442 ponies have been treated as part of curative care for a range of conditions such as external injuries, respiratory disorders, musculoskeletal disorders (lameness), gastro-intestinal disorders, eye problems, skin diseases, hoof ailments, and infections. Lameness (153 cases) and wounds (101 cases) were found to be among the dominant conditions that afflicted working ponies. Preventive care has been rendered to 275 ponies, to many in the form of vaccinations against tetanus – a deadly disease that when once sets in, can be fatal to the ponies. Besides this, donors with space, resources, and the mindset have come forward to rescue and adopt 5 ponies who for various reasons such as accidental electrocution, emotional trauma, being differentially-abled, and abandonment are not fit to pull loads. Today, these ponies are leading lives of dignity amidst compassionate human beings in the farms and shelters in and around Bangalore.

Identifying the core causes of discomfort for working animals: Dialogue with farriery or horse shoe makers and experts

What is exceptional about Samabhava’s work that this Vegan India! blogger found is their attention to detail. This attention to detail translates to the identification of the prime areas of concern in the working lives of ponies that happens to be 1) lameness and 2) external injuries. Lameness in ponies largely stem from the ignorance of the caretakers about the biomechanics of a pony’s feet with the result that the animal ends up working with badly designed shoes. To bridge this gap, Samabhava has networked with experts from abroad to train farriery and horse-shoe makers in Bangalore to produce shoes that are comfortable for the ponies and will help prevent lameness and wounds in the long run.  

A holistic approach to animal welfare and animal rights

Another exceptional aspect of Samabhava’s intervention is the organization’s holistic approach to animal welfare and animal rights – by integrating the concept of a vegan lifestyle and helping people to make the connection between animal suffering, human suffering, and the degradation of the Planet due to human choices. Veganism is the ultimate goal in any animal rights movement because the philosophy seeks to ameliorate animal suffering. All of Samabhava’s founder members are vegan (you can click this link to get introduced to them), including the chief guest at the function, the soft-spoken, Mrs. Amala Akkineni. Mrs. Akkineni, former film actor and now at the helm of affairs at the Blue Cross of Hyderabad, is one of the loveliest celebrity animal rights activists and supporter of a host of human rights work as well. Icons such as her demonstrate that human rights and animal rights go hand-in-hand, one is incomplete without the other, and “compassion” is an over-arching philosophy towards “life” in general, be it that of a human or an animal.

Future plans

Where does Samabhava go from here, we ask Sandesh Raju, Founder Trustee and Managing Trustee of the organization. Sandesh explains:
"We hope to train the caretakers of the ponies in better preventive management as well as in measures, which will help alleviate the day-to-day 'working' lives of the ponies. We know that this change will not be an overnight phenomenon and we hope to continue to work for this cause for as long it takes. On similar lines we hope to continue and expand "Project Atonement" (rescue and adoption of old, abandoned, and injured equines) so that more and more equines can live out the rest of their lives in comfort and dignity".

There are other aspects to Samabhava’s work that you can explore by visiting the organization’s website at: You can also read in detail about the five freedoms of animals that Samabhava seeks to work for by clicking this link on the website.

In conclusion

What is life without food? What is life without good, nutritious, healthy, and most importantly vegan food?! The celebration of Samabhava’s first year was commemorated by a lovely vegan lunch sponsored by In The Pink organic-vegetarian bazaar and restaurant based in Bangalore. The highlight of the platter was delicious peanut-curd rice and ragi payasam sprinkled with cashew nuts. We leave you here to enjoy a photograph of this appetizing platter!

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