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Retirement, Indian Style

Posted by at 1:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)


Retirement, Indian Style by Steve MartindaleLife is hard for animals working in India. In Maharashtra (a state in western India, Asia’s largest producer of sugar), bullocks—and sometimes ponies—are forced to carry extremely heavy loads of cane from the fields to the mills, trudging up to 20 miles a day in the extreme heat, along rutted dirt roads, and often with the whole family on top of the cane, all without relief. As a result, they suffer debilitating injuries, like yoke gall, bone fractures, dislocated joints, depression (no kidding), and internal bleeding. By the time they hit their PRIME years—18 or so, most are in deep trouble. Bullocks, for example, can live to be 25 or more, but most bullock cart owners in India are too poor to spend even the smallest amount of money on veterinary bills and certainly can’t afford to feed animals whose working days are behind them. That’s when they sell these worn-out souls for slaughter. Until now, that is. Now Animal Rahat is providing a retirement plan for a few of these noble, deserving animals. A lucky few.

Rahat (which means “relief”) is a group that was founded in 2003 by PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk, working closely with PETA India, and funded by the generous donations of a small handful PETA members in the U.S. and worldwide who also keep in touch with each other as well as receive updates on how their donations are helping animals in India through our Rahat cause on Facebook. Green pastures await tired, old, and ill animals who can no longer carry their loads. Free from nose-rings or harnesses, allowed to chew the sugar cane and grass, plenty of time to hang out with friends, with needed veterinary care—all provided by Rahat for retired animals. Villagers didn’t believe it at first, but the word is spreading, and ever so slowly, trends are changing. More animals will now be retired instead of being sent to the slaughterhouse.

Retired bullocks and horses find friendship and peace. Housha and Phulya spent their working years yoked together, pulling overwhelming loads day in and day out. Now they stand free, shoulder-to-shoulder as they wish—soul mates enjoying the good life. Even after recuperating at the retirement home, some animals still shudder and kick when they see their old masters, so painful are the memories of their working years. But many farmers love their animals and are delighted to see them healthy, happy, and enjoying a peaceful life. Santosh Masal, for example, was a true friend of Shilya, a bullock. Indeed, some farmers grow so attached to their animals that they can’t bear to leave them in the old-folks facility—they want the animals with them, next to the hut where they were raised. For them, Animal Rahat provides a stipend for food and care at home, without work—about $43 per month—and monitors them to make sure all is well with their retirement.

Rahat also advocates for better working conditions for the animals, for modern medical intervention instead of traditional (and painful) “remedies,” like throwing hot spices or broken glass into infected eyes or using hot-iron branding to mask the pain of joint swelling or digestive problems. Competitive bullock racing still occurs, where pins are jammed into vertebrae for the sake of a few moments of speed. But awareness of animal suffering is growing, thanks to the efforts of Rahat’s veterinary crew, and every day brings a bit more sunshine into the lives of animals working in India.

So please consider helping with this wonderful retirement plan. Your donation to Animal Rahat can go a long way toward making the golden years pleasant for these hardworking souls.

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5 Comments

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    Michelle says...

    January 14th, 2010, 5:35 pm

    The very least we can do for animals subjected to a lifetime of slavery is to give them a sanctuary to retire in. Thank you for this important work PETA!

    Anne Compagnon says...

    January 15th, 2010, 7:01 pm

    Folks: It is necessary that animals given to by God are treated with kindness.

    Why are people (men specially), using their strength to make an animal feel so unworthy. Animals have feelings. They know what is going on, they are not “robots”.

    Please World, give up your unkind ways and make room for compassion.

    Tucker says...

    January 17th, 2010, 10:51 am

    Animals have feelings, thoughts and feel pain just
    like humans!!!!!!
    They just can’t express it, and need us humans to
    HELP THEM AND USE OUR VOICES TO DO JUST THAT!!!!!!!!!

    EVERY BODY, USE YOUR VOICES
    FOR THE ANIMALS, ALLL ANIMALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    LOVE YOU PETA, NEVER GIVE UP, AND I WILL CONTINUE
    TO DO WHAT I CAN AS WELL!!!!!!

    Dianne says...

    January 23rd, 2010, 9:24 pm

    Imagine if the picture attached to this story was a human, in that condition. What an outrage it would be, the media would have a field day! Why is it acceptable for an animal to look like that? If it was a human it would be likened to a prisoner in a concentration camp. Go figure!

    Marcia says...

    April 9th, 2010, 6:31 pm

    Animal Rehat does wonderful work. We seldom hear about working animals, probably since most are in other countries. but their lives are among the hardest. I’m hoping that the followers and donors for AR continue to grow and help the laboring animals who get so little care and attention.

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