By Sriya Narayanan
Quite a lot can be done to help working animals. Rosalind Rengarajan’s insights into human nature have changed many of these magnificent animals’ lives for the better and her service to them could well be a template that everyone can use to educate the public about animal welfare.
When senior citizens Rose and her husband Rengarajan started Sheba Vet Clinic in 2000 at Chennai, with the help of a donor who chose to stay anonymous, their goal was simple: provide free and high-quality medical care to animals whose owners could not afford private veterinary care. As the years went by, hundreds of people who lived on the edge of poverty brought their animals to Rose’s clinic where veterinarians administered life-saving drugs, pain-killers and dispensed advice on how to care for the animal. It was not uncommon to see a long queue of animals outside their St. Thomas Mount establishment. Rose’s vets are always at hand, sourcing medicines, diagnosing illnesses and saving those that are fortunate enough to be brought in on time.
As word spread, the number of Rose’s beneficiaries increased, and with this development came another welcome opportunity: a chance to talk to owners about treating their animals right. The medicine people as they were popularly known, found that providing veterinary treatment for a wound for instance, increases the owner’s empathy for the animal’s pain and makes them reconsider physical abuse. She has gently advised bullock cart owners to refrain from whipping or overloading their beasts, and to return to her clinic for free treatment whenever the animal needed it. She is optimistic that there has been a change in attitude amongst her human visitors and it is this accomplishment that motivates her to continue operating the clinic despite the mammoth challenges that were thrown her way.
When donor funds ran out in 2009, Sheba Vet Clinic appealed for funds and the media covered their good work as well. However, the clinic had to shut shop when donations failed to cover operating costs. Rose’s husband Rengarajan had a stroke very soon after this, and passed away a few days later while in intensive care. Rose was now at the crossroads. Despite her grief and lack of resources, she reopened Sheba Vet Clinic on a smaller scale and reached out to the animals that needed her desperately. Tamil Nadu has no government veterinary hospital that can provide medical care for animals belonging to underprivileged people and Rose felt that the clinic was the only way to make a lasting difference in the voiceless workers’ lives.
She continues to feel a sense of deep satisfaction every time a bullock with gentle eyes is relieved of his pain and is led away by an owner who has had a change of heart. She remains a blessing to distraught pet-owners who don’t have the money for a taxi to the vet, let alone medication or surgery. Rosalind has always set aside her own pain and focused on that of others. As for the lucky four-legged ones who find themselves at her door, they have arrived at the one place where they can ask for help and will not be turned away.
Renrose Animal Care Trust is a registered charity with Sec 80(g) tax exemption. To contribute to the running of the clinic, contact Rosalind Rengarajan at email@example.com
Photo: Peter Horvath / Dreamstime.com / A goat.