As animal abuse cases spiral during the disquieted and horror-stricken times of the coronavirus, Ali Khurshid and Noor-ul-Ain Ali have put on their capes for the most forsaken segment of the city: stray animals.
Leading names in Pakistan’s glitzy world of fashion and wedding photography, the power couple already enjoys a superstar status but is loved more widely for being guardian angels of the city’s abused and unloved strays.
Ali and Noor began their animal rescuing journey three years ago after coming across an emaciated kitten, getting abused at one of Karachi’s biggest hospitals. Today, that same bony cat, after being given a second chance at life, enjoys chilling on the couch watching football with Ali’s father every afternoon.
“It has been three years and she is now quite attached to my dad. And while she has had her own kittens as well, she has also been helping us nurse other rescued and abandoned kittens,” Ali tells The News International.
The duo is currently housing nine dogs and 13 cats, apart from the over 50-60 strays that they care for in parts of the metropolis.
“Since the lockdown began, these animals have had no food or leftovers to feed off so most of them are starving. We go on a round daily in these areas and we give them food and water,” said Noor.
“When we rescue these animals, they are mostly injured or need some sort of rehabilitation so a lot of work goes into it. It’s almost like a full-time job,” she adds.
While the two unsung heroes have been devoting most of their time saving these animals, a number of obstacles have come in the way that were posed by, unsurprisingly once again, humans.
“We’ve had a lot of unpleasant experiences while rescuing but they have all come from human beings and not the animals. Recently, people shot some of my dogs. It’s beyond me why people use animals as an insult when it’s us humans that act like beasts and savages,” said Ali.
He further explained that, “even if stray dogs attack, that viciousness also stems from the cruelty that they have faced from humans previously which is why it’s difficult for them to not be fearful of humans.”
The couple has also joined forces with several non-profit organizations to neuter stray dogs and control the growing population which thereby catapults cases of abuse.
“Opening hearts to strays would definitely help us eradicate abuse happening on the streets against these animals,” continues Ali.
“People think it’s an elitist mindset to feed strays but I have seen homeless people, who barely have enough to eat for themselves, share their food with stray animals that have been protecting them. It all has to do with empathy, not money or your financial status.”
As the coronavirus strengthens its grip around the globe, fear surrounding animals being probable transmitters of the disease has been skyrocketing. Opening up about that, Ali and Noor believe animals are more susceptible to danger because of humans than vice versa.
The couple heaped praises on the Sindh government for playing a key role in furthering the cause of local animal shelters striving for a country with zero strays.
“This programme of zero strays can easily be replicated throughout the country as we’re doing in Sindh with the provincial government and Indus Hospital giving a helping hand to the animal shelters here. The focus should be on neutering the animals instead of ruthlessly shooting them with a gun,” said Ali.
“I have a recording of Prime Minister Imran Khan quoting Hazrat Umar (RA) that if a dog goes hungry even on the banks of the River Euphrates, I would be responsible,” he said adding that the authorities have done little to nothing in addressing this issue on a wider scale throughout the country.
“It’s all about awareness,” he continues. “People don’t know any better. They think killing animals is the only solution. I want authorities to take cases of animal cruelty seriously and hold these people accountable for the blood on their hands. This is how our public would learn to respect and care for these living creatures.”
Earlier in March, after the government imposed a lockdown across Pakistan, pet stores in Karachi’s Empress Market had been echoing with wailing animals close to dying, due to the ruthless negligence of the store owners.
Coming to their rescue, with the assistance of the provincial government’s special orders, was Ayesha Chundrigar and her ACF Animal Rescue team.
Chundrigar had told The News International earlier that around 70 percent of the animals in the shops were found dead while the remaining 30 percent were in a bad state.
“About 60 animals were taken out from the shops, the ones that were barely conscious and taken to shelters,” she had said.
That was one of the many cases of animal abuse that came afloat in the past months, as frequent videos of dogs getting brutally killed around Pakistan have been coming to surface on the internet, but only getting shrugged off by most of the country's population.
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