A Mumbai girl who moved to Pune just a decade ago, Neha Panchamiya is a Masters of Medical Science in Human Nutrition from the UK. Having worked with a healthcare company for a while, Neha’s lifelong dream of working with animals nagged at her till she quit and started her own organisation ResQ in Pune.
A self-taught Graphic-Designer, Neha says, “After my son was born 6 years ago, I felt the need to ensure I was financially stronger and started taking on larger design jobs. I realised it was perfect because I could manage the two things, one fore profit and one not-for-profit.”
SheThePeople.TV caught up with her to get to know about her organisation, the vision, and her plans ahead.
What ignited the idea for ResQ? The vision behind the organisation?
When I was 16, my family adopted an injured pup from the streets, which used only three legs to walk. Toffee was responsible for not only fulfilling my desire of having a pet dog, but made me realize that my weakness was that I could not see an animal in pain. I believe my journey with animals began with my dreams at seven, became an experience with Toffee at 16 and translated into action with RESQ at the age of 23.
The vision for RESQ is to reduce human-animal conflict and to bring about peaceful coexistence in the urban eco-system for all.
As an organization that rescues stray animals, what challenges do you face?
We struggle with people who try to overrun our policies. We have very strong policies of no compromise on quality of medical treatment, remaining an independent non-governmental organisation (we receive and take no government funds) and always remain true to being proactive and providing help to animals through direct action only.
As with any NGO, funding is a constant struggle. Because we always want to encourage people to report hurt and injured animals to us, we have always stated publicly that treatment for an injured animal at RESQ is free of cost, thereby not wanting to deter even the simple vegetable vendor to come forward with an injured animal.
In a country where philanthropy doesn’t exactly resonate in our bones, there are very few people who give willingly to animal NGOs.
What would be a “good” and “bad” day at work for you?
A good day is seeing a paralysed dog finally walking, a puppy waking up from coma after many days, a calf finally standing up, and seeing a bad wound finally healing! A bad day is having a critical animal come in and losing it while you’re doing everything to save it.
Any stories of adoption that have stayed with you?
There are SO many but one that I feel very happy when I think about is of a family who adopted an Indian pup called Biscuit and an abandoned Pug called Puggy suffering from chronic skin disease from RESQ. Those two dogs are so lucky to belong to a family who not just took them gave a place to belong, but opened up their homes and hearts to lifelong love for these 2 and took on the responsibility of their conditions. Besides that, they take them everywhere they go. These dogs have been kayaking, swimming, travelling, attending social gatherings and living a life I would have never dreamt they would have.
How to help a stray in distress?
I would recommend an individual to do one of two things:
- Contact an Animal Rescue NGO / Local Animal Volunteer Group in their city for help. Even posting a injured animal online on Facebook is sufficient these days – the word for a genuine case spreads very fast and contacts for help pour in.
- Attend a Basic First Aid Course on Street Animal Rescue to gain insight on how to recognise what has happened to a street animal and learn basic first aid. It is very important to do this in order to protect yourself and to avoid causing further distress to the animal already in distress.