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Every Rescue Matters : the story of BRACU Animal Welfare Community

One of the many surprises in BracU’s new campus was our campus cat. The endearingly named pet called Bhapacat stole everyone’s hearts. And from all this hubbub, emerged the Facebook group:BRACU Animal Welfare Community The founder, Hridita Barua – a senior from the CSE Department, envisioned this initiative one day on her commute back home from BracU. The group’s motto is to comprehend the pain of all poor “cattos and doggos”. The initial plan was to provide the pregnant Bhapa with a safe space. She currently resides with Fatima Jannat Mahia, another BracU student running a shelter named “50tk to Save a Paw”. The group had quickly become a force for change with a record of 25 rescues already under its belt. Even while interviewing Hridita, she was on the lookout for shelters for 3 cats.

From left: Bhapa cat and Hridita

The rescue process is arduous, to say the least. 

Step 1: When an injured animal is spotted, they are immediately checked upon by a team member who assesses whether they need to be taken to a hospital such as “Animed”, a pet shelter, or someone’s home. 

Step 2: If the animal’s condition is critical, funds must be raised for hospital bills, medicines, and food. Usually, each case requires around BDT 3000. And during crises, Hridita and the other founders pay out of their pockets. 

Step 3: They’ve already coordinated the adoption of two cats- Calico and Roxy while a search for two more animals is underway. 

Sending injured Vagabond to shelter

While this may seem simplistic, the process necessitates extensive management. Initially, Hridita Barua started the journey with Sourav Biswas, Maisa Kabir, and Mahzabin Binte Sayed. Later S M Sahil and Chandrima Saha, all seniors at Brac U, have joined them. Now the team has 20 active volunteers, many of whom are juniors and freshers. Their finances, expense and donation is accounted for in their group and handled with the utmost transparency. Furthermore, they’re quite careful about associating themselves with BRAC. Donors are informed of the fact that they’re not an official club. They’re simply a group of animal lovers raising awareness and funds to create animal-friendly spaces. From faculties to students, everyone’s reaction has been positive. Two thousand students joined the group within a month and they actively make donations and volunteer to take rescue animals to their homes. The group is indubitably influencing animal-friendly behavior around the campus. 

From left: Cali-the precious cat and Volunteer Kathy with Amy’s baby.

In regard to financial and moral support, countless events unfold. A huge form of assistance came as a blessing one day when a faculty member donated 4 thousand BDT for an emergency case of a cat who was in dire need of treatment. The community is growing everyday and the team recalls being overwhelmed when over two thousand people joined the group in just a month. Many members were compassionate enough to donate and even take the rescued animals to their home. People have slowly started to treat the community like their own where many post their own cases and findings to look for assistance and also interact with others within the group and give solutions. 

However, there are also some bitter moments. Sometimes donations are insufficient as treatments can get expensive and students are busy with their personal and academic lives. It becomes a hassle to balance and sacrifices need to be made such as working at odd times. It also takes a huge toll on the mental health of the volunteers because it’s not always possible to treat every animal with adequate resources and they witness them dying in their own hands. Shondesh, a cat brutally passed away after getting stuck in the escalator only 20 days after getting treatment. Hridita mournfully states “On one side we try to save them, on the other side, they die”. 

During treatment of an injured dog 

On the brighter side, their aspirations are boundless. They dream to carry out a large-scale project one day regarding neutering dogs in Badda. There is already a surging number of dogs present in that location making it impossible to allocate resources equally. Thus, neutering will be the appropriate solution which will approximately require 25 thousand BDT for 12-13 dogs, around 1 lac is needed for the project. They also plan to open a Facebook page called “Every Rescue Counts” to expand their operation so that animals can find love and support outside the institution as well. A community like this is a further step towards humanity which can be a source of inspiration for everyone and create a sense of empathy towards the helpless animals  and soften our hearts, because at the end, despite all the tribulations there is a sense of accomplishment from saving multiple lives.

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