Elephant stories and elephant festivals abound in our ancient religious texts. Since we seem to have lost our sense of the elephant as divine and reduced him to a joker whose job is to entertain us, let me tell you some of these stories. I have got them from a book called Indian Art and Mythology by SK Gupta.

The word Diggaja is used by politicians a lot to describe powerful political satraps. It comes from here:

Airavata was born from the Cosmic Golden Egg (Hiranyagarbha) from which the sun emerged. Brahma took the two halves of the shell and breathed life into them. From one, came Airavata and seven other male elephants: Pundarika, Kumda, Vmana, Anjana, Pushpadanta, Sarvabhauma and Supratika. From the second sprang 8 female elephants as their consorts: Abhramu, Kapila, Pingala, Anupama, Anjanaa, Subhadanti, Tamrakarna, Anjanavati. These eight pairs known as Diggajas stand and guard the eight quarters of the sky and Earth, becoming the symbols of strength, stability and protection. 

According to a legend, all the elephants were winged and white and able to change their shape like clouds. One day the elephants came to listen to a discourse by the sage Dirghatamas. The branch of the tree on which they sat broke and some listeners were killed and the sage disturbed. The sage cursed the elephants to lose their wings and their shape changing ability.

The birth of Gautama Buddha gives a prominent place to the elephant. Suddhodana, the King of the Sakyas, and his wife Maya were to celebrate the summer moon festival. Maya bathed in scented water and gave alms to the poor. Fully adorned, she ate the festival food and then fell asleep in her chamber. She dreamt she was taken to the Himalayas and set under an enormous Sal tree. Four great kings stood while their wives bathed her, and anointed with perfumes and flowers. On a silver mountain was a golden mansion. The queens prepared a divine bed and laid her on it. The Bodhisattva in the form of a white elephant with a white lotus and a silver rope in his trunk alighted on the mountain, circled round Maya’s bed and, smiting her right side, appeared to enter her womb. The queen repeated her dream to eminent Brahmins who interpreted it as such: the queen would have a son. He would either become a universal emperor or if he went forth into the world he would become a Buddha, a remover of the veil of ignorance.

In every story and representation of the birth of Buddha the elephant has a prominent place. In Nagarjunikonda, the elephant himself is shown as being carried down by the gods themselves.

The Buddhist scriptures have beautiful stories about the elephant. Here is the short form of one: The Boddhisattva as Saddanta was the chief of a herd of 8000 elephants. He lived in a great golden cave in the monsoons and under the banyan tree in summer. His two consorts were Chullabhadra and Mahasubhadra. Chullabhadra became jealous and presumed that Saddanta loved Mahasubhadra more. So she stopped eating and prayed to be reborn as the queen of Benaras so that she could have Saddanta killed.

She was reborn as Subhadra, the princess of Madda and married the king of Benaras. Pretending to be sick, she said she could only get well if a six tusked white elephant were to be killed and his tusks brought to her. In the gathering of hunters she nominated an ugly hunter named Sonuttara and told him where to find Saddanta. She spent a large sum of money and made all the tools for Saddanta to be killed.

Sonuttara arrived at the place of the elephants, dug a huge pit, and covered it with grass. As the elephant passed he wounded him with a poisoned weapon. The elephant, mad with pain, got ready to kill the hunter, but he stopped when he saw the yellow robes of sainthood that he was disguised in. Calmly he asked why the hunter had come, and when Sonuttara replied that he had been sent to kill him by the queen of Benaras, Saddanta realized that this was his queen Subhadra reborn.

He offered himself to be killed. Since he was so tall, he offered his trunk. The hunter climbed on it and started cutting off his tusks. The elephants mouth filled with blood and he was in excruciating pain. But when the hunter could not saw through the mighty blades, the elephant sawed them off himself and told the hunter to give them to the queen. The hunter left and Saddanta died.

The hunter placed the tusks before the queen and, as she took them on her lap, her heart filled with terrible sorrow and, remembering his love and asking his forgiveness, she died. The story is depicted in the Sanchi stupa and at Ajanta.

Another story goes like this: The Bodhisattva was born as the head of eighty thousand elephants. He adored his blind mother. Every day he collected wild fruit for her and gave it to other elephants to take them back to her. One day he found that the elephants were eating the fruit themselves and not feeding her. At night he left the herd along with his mother and went to a cave near a lake where he and his mother lived happily.

A forester lost his way and began lamenting. The Bodhisattva calmed him, fed him, and carried him out of the jungle on his back. The ungrateful forester went to the king and took money to tell them the whereabouts of the elephant. When the army arrived, the Bodhisattva thought “I am large enough to scatter a thousand elephants. But if I give way to anger I shall destroy them and the rest will hunt down my herd and I will lose my virtue. So I shall be still.” He was captured and taken to Benaras where he was festooned and taken to the king. He refused to eat for two weeks and finally told the king he could not eat if his blind mother did not.

Seeing his love for his mother, the king realized this was a Great Being and freed him. He returned to his mother and looked after her. The King of Benaras served them both and had an image of the Bodhisattva made which became the centre of the elephant festival. The elephant in the rock at Dhauli represents the Bodhisattva of the story.

The elephant has every sense that the human has, and many more. There must be a reason why the elephant represents prosperity, dignity and valour, and why so many Bodhisattvas were born as elephants. How sad that we should forget these messages and treat the elephants in our country as animals to be misused, abused and killed.

Maneka Gandhi

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

When the government made Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) mandatory, I was thrilled. Perhaps now some money would come to the animal welfare and wildlife agencies. We struggle for money every day – last week we bought a mattress for large animals that are accident cases. Just covering one third of the room cost Rs. 2.5 lakh. Ambulances break down, food runs out, every doctor constantly threatens to leave if his pay is not raised - and he wants a pay hike every three months, immunoglobulin injections for distemper cases cost Rs.5000 each. Coats, bandages, blankets, coolers, heaters, paint, tiles… the list is endless. 

With the electricity rate hike, our bill comes to Rs. 2 lakh a month. And this is just one shelter I am talking about. We have 35. And no source of funding except donations.

But alas, no company has put animal management into their CSR. Aircel ran a campaign asking people to send them SMSes to save the tiger. Everyone got a cheap plastic band in return – and the tiger population continues to spiral downwards. Swarovski also does “wildlife’ which means it puts up senseless boards asking tourists to be quiet or not smoke in Bharatpur sanctuary. One large milk related company, Balaji, does its CSR by sending people to dairies and asking the owners to let the calf have the first milk from the cow as it will strengthen the immunity system. You can’t get more superficial than that. We sent them a proposal that they should put their money into redesigning carts which would not give cattle neck cancer as they pulled these heavy carts. We gave them the design free and all the logistics that would be required. No deal.

If you talk to the corporates, they confess that they put their money into fashionable / popular causes that will bring them publicity indirectly and attach a feel-good factor to what they produce. They will not do charity for its own sake – no matter how urgent the issue. So, most of them do “girl child” and “education”. What that is, God knows. One very large bank in Karnataka spent its CSR on providing THREE wheelchairs for the disabled on train platforms and spent more money on bringing VIPS, to inaugurate those chairs, than on the chairs themselves. Most companies simply do “awareness camps.”

This article is meant for these companies.

CSR is meant to be the bridge between companies and the community. It is impossible for the government to bring about change as the needs are so many (specially the needs of politicians and bureaucrats). NGOs have the focus, know-how, strategic thinking, and commitment but they need the financial strength to enable widespread social transformation. Partnerships between corporations, NGOs and the government will speed everything up.

Appeals to companies to be included in the CSRs are always turned away with the stock response that humans need it more.

But animal welfare is geared only towards human welfare. An animal friendly CSR could include:

1. Planting fruit trees in and near jungles: this will help humans by keeping the monkeys away from the cities.

2. Building or running small rural hospitals for farmer’s animals. Government has no infrastructure at all. The cost of a cow is now Rs. 50,000. If it dies the farmer is bankrupt. Most of U.P ‘s villagers still travel in ox or horse drawn carts. Horses that go lame are thrown into ditches to die.

3. Holding workshops to teach farmers organic farming.

4. Supporting the dog sterilization programme in smaller towns. This will end rabies once and for all and lessen the population dramatically, and reduce bites.

5. Redesigning carts to make them puller friendly. At the moment 33% of oxen die in 3 years of neck cancer, placing a huge financial burden on the farmer/villager

6. Building veterinary colleges. At the moment 2,600 vets are produced every year in the worst colleges in the world. No wildlife vets, no zoo vets, no bird vets, very few small animal vets. The emphasis is only on producing animals for meat and milk. But veterinary colleges could teach actual medicine.

7. Teaching veterinary compounders who will then get jobs in their own village.

8. Giving money to make bureaus to catch wildlife poachers / traders who are denuding the forests.

9. Making rescue centres for elephants / injured birds like peacocks / leopards, and running them. Run campaigns for bringing back endangered species like sparrows.

10. Pay for turtle nesting sites: this will keep the rivers and oceans clean.

11. Pay for animal rescue during floods and cyclones. The man who has lost his house AND animal will never stand on his feet again.

12. Making one shelter / hospital in each city to manage the animals there.

Each one of these will have a profound effect on the economy.

For those companies that are hesitant because they feel they will not get enough goodwill mileage out of their CSR, here is a survey:

A comprehensive survey was done by the Humane Research Council (HRC) in 2012, on which social cause is viewed most favourably in America . Animal protection came out on top, along with workers’ rights. Six other causes came far below in public opinion.

This shows that the animal welfare movement is having an impact on the way that society thinks about animals. Despite current economic and political concerns, the animal protection cause is retaining support, though support for all other social justice causes have decreased significantly since 2008. Not only is the movement viewed favourably, but the protection of animals is considered important by a majority of U.S. adults and this includes animals used for profit, such as animals used for food and animals used for research and testing.

HRC conducted a representative survey of thousands of U.S. adults over 2 months regarding attitudes toward various social justice causes. More respondents rated their opinion of animal welfare movements as “more favourable” than any other social movement listed on the survey, including tax reform, homeless advocacy, immigration reform, gay / lesbian rights, environmentalism, and the pro-life (anti-abortion) cause. Further, the animal protection movement is the only cause for which support has not decreased since 2008 when the first survey was done.

After decades of struggling for recognition, the animal protection cause is now considered one of the paramount social justice issues of modern times. Any company that takes the step towards supporting this movement is sure to increase its goodwill. Animal NGOs are very vociferous in India. Why not get them on your side?

Maneka Gandhi

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., www.peopleforanimalsindia.org

Mark Bittman is a food columnist with New York Times. He suffered from hyperacidity and took pills most of his life. Recently he was told by a friend to stop drinking milk or any of its forms – curd, cheese etc. He did, and four months later not only had his acidity disappeared but most of his other health problems vanished as well.

He wrote a column on it for the paper. 1300 people wrote to the paper the next day saying that they had had similar experiences. “In them, people outlined their experiences with dairy and health problems as varied as heartburn, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, eczema, acne, hives, asthma (“When I gave up dairy, my asthma went away completely”), gall bladder issues, body aches, ear infections, colic, “seasonal allergies,” rhinitis, chronic sinus infections and more. One writer mentioned an absence of canker sores after cutting out dairy; I realized I hadn’t had a canker sore — which I’ve gotten an average of once a month my whole life — in four months.”

Doctors and the medical establishment are the last people to consult about milk. While they will admit that many people are lactose–intolerant, meaning they are allergic to milk, and will suffer digestive problems if they drink it – they will confine this to 1 % of the population. But they refuse to study the links between dairy and such a broad range of ailments

If you go to a doctor with an acidity problem (or heartburn as it is known) the gastroenterologist will prescribe a proton pump inhibitor, or P.P.I., a drug that blocks the production of acid in the stomach. But P.P.I.s don’t address underlying problems, nor are they “cures.” They address only the symptom, not its cause, and they are only effective while the user takes them.

Most of these heartburn cases have a story to tell of how they solved their problems by eliminating dairy. Hundreds of people wrote in to Bittman saying that they stopped drinking milk by accident — a vacation where milk was not available or they were with non-milk-drinking friends or family — and their symptoms disappeared, which returned when they started their “normal” diet again.

He writes: “Others abandoned dairy for animal cruelty reasons, or a move towards veganism, and found, as one reader wrote, “My chronic lifelong nasal congestion vanished within a week, never to return.” Still others, like one writer, “immediately gave up dairy … and quit taking my medications.  After nine days … I have had no heartburn, despite the fact that I have eaten many foods that would normally bring it on…. It feels like a miracle.”

When a lifetime of suffering, medical visits and prescription drugs can be resolved with an easy dietary change it seems foolish not to do it.

Some people will argue that it is “industrialized packet” milk that causes this (cows who are kept badly by dairies and fed inferior food which they have trouble digesting), or it is pasteurized milk which is bad and raw is better, or cows milk is better than buffalo milk or goat milk is alright, or that milk is bad but yoghurt and cheese are fine. The average human has a dislike for changing what he considers traditional or god-given (Krishna drank it) or endorsed by the medical establishment and he will argue with all his might against any change. And it is also true that lots of people drink milk and nothing happens to them – the same way as many people smoke cigarettes and do not get cancer. But on the basis of what appears to be widespread experience, anyone with chronic heartburn or any of the other ailments mentioned above would be missing an opportunity if he or she didn’t give a non-dairy diet a shot.

The problem is that governments have become very deeply involved in the selling of milk. They run their own dairies in India like Amul. Each state has its own milk as well. Their animal husbandry departments issue “public interest” advertisements on television to drink milk. In fact the entire official establishment is involved in the selling of this product. They have divisions whose only job is to stop adulteration and their veterinary colleges concentrate on milch animals. It becomes a Nationalistic thing to Drink Milk. With such an extraordinary push from the government and its lazy unthinking allies, the medical establishment, it is but natural that people are gulled into drinking milk.

But the job of an agriculture department should not be to sell whatever crops (milk is a crop) farmers can grow most efficiently; it should be to encourage the growth of crops that will benefit the greatest number of people. Milk is inefficient as well – we grow wheat and soya, corn and clover and then feed it to cows. It takes 11 kilos of green to make one kilo or less of milk.  These plants can be directly eaten by humans and they will not give asthma, acne, arthritis, acidity, diabetes and cancer.

Why does the medical establishment invest itself so deeply? For one, all research is government guided. Few doctors go against the prevailing beliefs of the day.  Very few doctors know anything about diet as they are not taught the subject in medical colleges. So they pass off old wives’ tales as medical knowledge.

But most importantly, many doctors are led by pharmaceutical companies. And for pharmaceutical companies and doctors, the answer to everything is a drug. The more they sell, the better they are. More than $13 billion worth of P.P.I.s were sold in 2010, so, if as few as 10 percent of those people were helped by dropping milk, the makers of antiacids, Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec would be feeling the pain. Who cares if the consumer feels the pain caused by milk?

Maneka Gandhi

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In 1996, an Andhra Pradesh businessman smuggled in emus through the customs, saying they were chickens from Australia. Emus look nothing like chicken but one bribe looks like another so everyone kept quiet. 

He multiplied these emus and started giving them to people who had poultry farms. Soon, this illegal bird spread throughout India and the animal husbandry department, who were informed again and again of the dangers of keeping this bird, jumped into its promotion enthusiastically.  This Government, under Sharad Pawar (who else?) has permitted emu farming. Nabard gives loans for it.

It has spread like a disease from Andhra Pradesh to Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Goa, Uttarakhand even  Gujarat where so far three businessmen have started emu farms.

It has taken 15 years and hundreds of bankruptcies to realize that emu farming is a fake – a Ponzi scheme started by clever crooks to defraud farmers. A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that involves the payment of so called returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors. Ponzi scheme organizers solicit new investors by promising to invest funds in opportunities claimed to generate high returns with little or no risk.

Let me explain to you the Great Emu Game through example:

A man called M.S. Guru started Susi Emu Farms in 2006 in Erode. He cheated 12,000 investors. It was done in two ways:

The company sold emu chicks to a farmer. The farmer was told that that once the birds were reared and adult, the company would buy them back. Many farmers turned their agricultural lands into emu rearing sheds.

Susi also asked people to invest in their emu business, paying to own emus which would be reared by Susi on a contract basis, guaranteeing Rs.1,000 per month as a return to the farmer. Many victims were lured by what appeared to be the success of Susi Farms. Guru was conferred the Arch of Excellence (Business) Award (2008) and Gem of India Award-2011 by All India Achievers Conference.

This is what his victims have to say: "They said it was a very simple business. They promised to supply chicks and the fodder. The shed was built on my premises claiming it was free, though I had to pay a huge amount in the form of interest free security deposit,” recalls P. Subrahmani from Omallaur who invested Rs. 15 lakh with Susi Farms. He got 25 others to invest. “As per the agreement, they had to pay me Rs.7,000 per month on a unit of six birds as maintenance charge. I had ten units. They made one payment and then stopped. They kept the security deposit and had no explanation for not making the payment.” Those that invested in Susi directly had to give an initial investment of Rs. 2 lakh and were allocated 20 chicks. They were promised a total return of Rs. 6.5 lakh in five years.

Perunthurai, a town in Erode district is the hub of emu farming with 28 companies who have done the same thing as Susi.

According to police estimates, there are over 250 promoters of contract farming of this bird across the state and they all attracted investors promising higher returns. Dozens of emu farms started operations with advertisement campaigns to lure farmers to rear the bird on contract mode in Coimbatore, Krishnagiri, Pollachi, Mettupalayam, Tirupur, Perundurai, Dharapuram and Salem . The district administration and police have now issued press statements warning people off Emu farming or investments. The Susi birds are now being fed by the government but they will all die soon as feeding them is very expensive.

Tamil Nadu is not alone. For the last three months teams of People For Animals have been going round Uttarakhand checking emu farms. Farmers in Nainital had started breeding emus some years ago. Now, the emus have been abandoned and the farmer ruined. The farmers have stopped feeding them and lakhs of these birds are dying of starvation. Nothing can be done as there is no space to keep them.

The companies insist that the emu is a bird which is easy to keep and is very popular for its meat, oil, leather and eggs. None of these claims are true.

The fact is that emu meat is a failure. It is tough and difficult to cook. In fact even Australians do not eat emu meat.  Susi started a restaurant with emu meat as the main fare. No takers.

The emus require lakhs to feed. They grow to 6 feet. They have to be feed several times a day, 4 kg. of food each. They eat seeds, fruit, insects, young leaves, lizards, other small animals and animal droppings. They do not eat dry grasses or older leaves, even if that's all that is available to them. Emus also need charcoal to help them digest their food.

Each requires 10 litres of water daily. The female lays eggs only during October to March and the maximum number are 10-20 eggs, one every 3-5 days. Emus lay eggs with difficulty. Only a few lay eggs at one time and an incubator is needed to hatch them. But incubators are uneconomical unless there is a reasonable quantity of eggs to sustain the cost of production.

They get diseases like encephalitis.

As far as selling them for food, the price of emu meat is Rs. 450 a kg – an impossible price. The egg sells for Rs. 2,200. The eggs are dark green and very difficult to eat at one go and impossible to keep. In 2010 Punjab Agro Tech promoted the emu at its business fair, saying that omelettes of its eggs were selling at Rs. 5,000 per omelette in 5 star hotels – a claim found to be utterly false. In fact, 5 stars do not even have emu on their menus. The egg is never sold because it is too expensive and it is needed for breeding more birds. After 15 years there are still not enough eggs in India to make a business out of selling them.

Now the emu companies are claiming that they will sell feather and nails, cooking oil and beauty products!

If the emu was being grown for meat and oil, any emu business has to have a slaughterhouse to kill the birds hygienically and another unit to process oil.  No companies have these. They simply have birds which they contract out, take the money and run.

These emu contract businesses that offer Rs. 350 a bird and more are simply conning the farmer as this is unviable. If the company tells the farmer to bring in more investors, it is definitely planning to take and run.

There is no meat market developed yet for export or for local sale and no symptoms of it so far. In any case there are no foreign offers for the meat. So far the oil processing and other industrial ventures remain only in newspaper and radio advertisements.

An entrepreneur in Anand, Gujarat who expected to reap huge profits from killing the bird, is now selling them away as pets. The farmers of Hoshiarpur are now bankrupt as are the emu farmers of Maharashtra – a scam that broke in 2010 and was ignored.

Uttarakhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have crashed. But that doesn’t prevent more states and more ignorant state administrations from pushing emu meat. Goa, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh are pushing this. Bihar’s ignorant animal husbandry and fisheries resources department minister is asking the World Bank to give Bihar money to start emu farming! His department says that they will sell it as a medicine saying that its oil has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects – a claim that Australia does not make! Previously he had tried to make rat eating popular.

How many farmers will have to commit suicide before India bans emu farming?

Maneka Gandhi

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Till I get a manager for Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre (Please God, send me someone!), I have to go there everyday to manage it. This is the largest shelter in India with 4,000 animals ranging from white rats to buffaloes and our 24 hours services are free.  Everything that can go wrong does go wrong every day, roofs leak, doctors disappear, the food is stale, the cleaners arrive late or not at all, the windows break, the air-conditioners give out, the donor giving the hay for the cows does not arrive, the bathrooms of the vets are dirty, it is raining and the storerooms get wet. But of all the problems that I face everyday the worst are the clients.

There are two types of services: one is the free service for rescued animals. The other is the OPD for the pets of paying clients.

This OPD is what brings us the money to run the free services. But it is a nightmare to deal with people who bring in sick animals. While trawling the Net I saw sites by veterinarians who have the same complaints as I do. If you are an animal owner let me tell you how to behave at a veterinary hospital.

1.  Bring/carry your dog or cat properly. Most bring them in like babies, carrying them upside down and cuddling them for hours. The dog or cat will die. Either the dog is muzzled too tightly and cannot breathe or has an elevated temperature or it is running wild and attacking every other animal.

2.  Treat the vet as you would a human doctor. Do not speak on the cell phone while the dog is being examined and the vet is talking to you, or bring crowds of people with you and insist that they all enter the examination room and argue, or insist on getting prompt service when you can see other animals being treated.    

3.   Do not bring children to the hospital. They are a nuisance and dangerous to animals.

4.   Do not send your animals with servants to be treated. They have no idea of the symptoms, the animal will not get proper attention and will probably come back worse.

5.   Do not bring the dog without a leash or allow the dog to run around. This is not a dog park. Do not sit down next to a large dog so that your dog will not stop barking out of fright.

6.   Bring your cat in a basket. If the cat is attacked by a dog or runs, it causes panic.

7.   Give a proper fact sheet of the dog to the vet. Do not tell lies: he is not here to judge you or send you to jail. He is here to treat the animal. So don’t say: ‘yes, he got his vaccinations’ when it is a clear case of distemper; ‘he’s just got ill last night’ when the animal has his bones sticking out and his gums are white from anaemia. Don’t tell lies about the food you give or where he is kept. Do not go into denial about how many times he is fed or whether you tie him to the gate at night or whether he got heat stroke because you left him on the roof in summer. Most animals that are obese have bad teeth, matted hair; have been neglected by their owners. Vets want the best for your pets but they can only be effective if you are honest.

8.   Be an informed owner. Know what medications or chronic medical condition your pet has. Telling us that he's on "a white pill for his heart" is not going to help the vet at all. Write your pet's important medical history including medications down and bring them.

9.   Do not try to save money by not having a blood test or a stool examination. It will cost you the life of the dog and the vet will be doing hit and miss without the tests.

10.   Do not bring the animal after he has gone into a total collapse and then expect miracles. Bring the animal when the first symptom of ill health is seen: going off food, discharge from the eyes, listlessness, and diarrhoea.

11.   Do not argue with the vet to get procedures other than surgery when the animal clearly needs surgery. Do not argue when he says that the animal needs a bath or de-ticking or nails cut. Do not argue when he says that your St Bernard needs an air-conditioned room.

12.   Do not abandon the dog/cat at our clinic as soon as you see the bill. (This happens even when the bill is Rs. 400/- ) We had one man who brought his Id Goat (the goat whom he was going to kill at Id) which was pregnant and needed a caesarean. He dumped the animal rather than pay for the surgery and came back a week later – after we had done it ourselves- to reclaim the mother and child. Needless to say, he did not get either.

13.   Do not bring the animal, get it treated, get the prescription of what you are supposed to give it at home – and then don’t give it and return after a week when the animal is clearly much worse. If you cannot give the medicine at home, bring the animal every day so that we can give it.

14.   Start a small savings fund for your pets. Putting a few rupees a week aside can help you prepare for the eventuality that your pet develops a life-threatening illness or injury. Telling vets that you have "no money whatsoever" for your pet's treatment when you have brought them in a car is not going to endear you.      15.   Do not refuse to pay after you have had all the work done. Your dog has had the surgery, the IV transfusion, the dental procedure, the X Ray and then you refuse to pay. This way the hospital will collapse. Do not ask for a discount after the procedures are done.

16.   Being rude is not going to win you any brownie points with the vet. It is as important to have a good relationship with the vet as it is for you to have one with your doctor.

17.   You may have to wait. Pacing back and forth across the waiting room floor may be irritating in itself, but constantly complaining to the receptionists or becoming aggressive in attitude is completely unnecessary and can lead to both you and your pet being evicted from the building.

18.   Do not turn up late and expect service whenever you want. We have people turning up at 2 at night and expecting the same quality of service they would get during the day. They bring in animals that have been sick the whole day – but the owners did not have any time till now?

19.   Do not book surgeries and then not turn up. Surgeons can only do a limited number of operations and they make special time for the ones that need it first.      20.   Follow through on treatments. If you are ordered to change the diet, do so. If you have to exercise the dog, do so. If you have to give supplements do so.  Do not pick and choose what you want to do. The vet is not recommending this course of action to hear himself talk. Take their recommendations seriously.      21.   Vaccinate your animals. Vets do not recommend vaccines to line their pockets. They didn't make up distemper, parvovirus, or rabies, which can all kill your pet. Vaccinations prevent these deadly infections in the vast majority of cases.

22.   Do not bring a vicious dog and then stand by while he disembowels the doctor and staff.

23.   Do not let your pet urinate or defecate in the waiting area while you stand like an amused passerby. If this happens have the sense to clean it up yourself. Hospitals have limited staff.

24.   Spay and neuter your pets. There are thousands of animals dying for want of homes. Adding dogs and cats to this mix is irresponsible. If you are going to breed them, make sure to have money saved up for the possible c-section or other life-threatening complications that can come with breeding..

While I understand that many animal owners have doubts about veterinarians but when you behave like this, you make the vet’s job even tougher and the only being that suffers is your animal.

Maneka Gandhi

To join the animal welfare movement contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.