years ago this April, Jill Robinson first walked onto a bear bile farm. On that day in April 1993, Jill could have walked away, but she chose to act and do what she could. Today, you also have a choice. If everyone reading this donated just US$20, it would pay for the care of over 150 bears at our China sanctuary for a full year. Please help us celebrate 20 years of progress. Donate US$20 today (or whatever you can afford).
MUMBAI, India--Among the most popular heroes of the three-day terrorist rampage through Mumbai that started on November 26, 2008 are the street dog Sheru, the sniffer dog Jessica, and the therapy dogs Goldie and Onet.
At least 170 people were killed and 230 were wounded by 10 heavily armed men believed to be Pakistanis, who are believed to have hijacked a boat to reach Mumbai, killing the crew. On arrival, they shot up the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus train station, the Taj Mahal and Oberoi-Trident hotels, a Jewish outreach center, and a restaurant, and left bombs in two taxi cabs.
Sheru was among the first victims. "Sheru was a stray dog hit by an errant bullet," recounted Washington Post Foreign Service correspondent Emily Wax. "Plump, easygoing and almost 10 years old--a senior citizen in dog years--Sheru often slept near the pastry case of the Re-Fresh restaurant, a popular eatery in Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Com-muters would feed him leftover fried veggie puffs or sips of milk, workers said."
Elaborated Mumbai blogger Harish Iyer to the Times of India, "Sheru kept barking at the terrorist Azmal after he opened fire at CST. All the other dogs ran away, but Sheru stood his ground until he was killed." But Sheru was not killed. He was rescued by newspaper photographer Shripat Naik, 28. "I was clicking photographs when I saw the dog, bloody, dazed and looking so horribly afraid and traumatized, " Naik told Wax. "My dog died a year ago. My heart went out to this poor quivering animal."
Naik rushed Sheru to the Bai Sakarbai Dinshah animal hospital, on the central Mumbai campus of the Bombay SPCA. "The bullet luckily cleared Sheru's shoulder and didn't puncture his heart or lungs. It was like a small miracle," said hospital manager Yuvraj R. Kaginkar. The hospital staff gave Sheru his name, which in Hindu means "Lion Heart." Summarized Wax, "The survival of the aging Sheru has become an uplifting and soothing symbol of Mumbai's recovery to many of the city's anxious and angry citizens." Agreed retired Indian army veterinarian J.C. Khanna, who is now the Bai Sakarbai Dinshah hospital chief surgeon, "Some may ask why a dog is saved when so many human lives were lost. But saving all creatures big and small shows the love and affection for all life that Mumbai has shown again and again. Sheru's life stands for something, for all of us getting back on our feet."
The terrorists met the sniffer dog Jessica and her handler at the back entrance to the Taj Mahal Hotel, fatally shooting both. Two other police dogs were killed in the ensuing siege, and received funerals attended by police and firefighters, reported Raymond Thibodeaux for VOA News.
Goldie, a golden retriever, and Okret, a St. Bernard, became involved after the shooting stopped. Both are therapy dogs trained by Minal Kavishwar of the Animal Angels Foundation, the first Indian animal therapy program certified by the Delta Society. Based in Renton, Washington, the Delta Society has promoted animal therapy worldwide since 1977. The Animal Angels Foundation reviously helped victims of train bombings in Mumbai that on July 11, 2006 killed 229 people and wounded more than 700.
While dogs worked to help humans, In Defence of Animals/India looked for opportunities to help the pigeons who lost their homes as the Taj Mahal hotel burned. Founded independently, In Defence of Animals/India is now affiliated with the U.S. organization In Defense of Animals. "As the night [of November 26] progressed and bombs and grenades exploded, it was distressing to see the pigeons fluttering against the flames in TV coverage," e-mailed IDA/India founder Goodicia Vaidya. "For nearly three days we could only watch their distress. However, on the 29th, when the last terrorist was killed, the 'all clear' was given, so a volunteer and I took the opportunity to drive down. Before setting out, we contacted Mr. Vora of Paras Hardware, who is a trustee of the Dadar Kabutar-khana, a place designated for feeding pigeons, who on hearing our mission, very generously gave us a 50-kilo sack of grain. When we reached the heavily guarded destination, we were not allowed to park," but finally found a parking space some distance away. Carrying as much grain as they could, they were initially excluded from the immediate vicinity of the Taj, "but when we showed them the grain, they allowed us entry," Vaidya said.
"We received such a welcome from those hungry pigeons! They flew onto our heads, shoulders, and the bag of grain. We then picked up the ones who were sick and injured --one had his neck feathers singed--and took them to the Bombay SPCA," Vaidya added.IDA/India fed the pigeons again the next day. While feeding pigeons in public places is usually discouraged to avoid encouraging large flocks to congregate, weary troops avidly participated in the feeding, and in providing water for the pigeons, perhaps relieving some post-traumatic stress.
Bombay SPCA chief surgeon J.C. Khanna told Thibideaux that at least 25 pigeons were killed at the Taj, and dozens more were injured by explosions and smoke. A wounded fruit bat was also recovered at the scene.
Editor, ANIMAL PEOPLE
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