Encouraging an ethical approach to pet adoption
In 2017, Orni Hasan found a disheveled kitten around Dhanmondi Lake, deciding to keep him. Before the decision, she looked for safe adoption options, but could not find any. That was when the unfortunate reality of a dearth of safe, formal, and ethical adoption options caught her attention. Stumbling across unbearable stories of cruelty inflicted on adopted and street animals, she started Paws And Tails (PAT) in September 2019. Her driving principle was getting vulnerable cats and dogs off the streets, and ensuring safe homes for them.
PAT is an online adoption platform that helps animals find homes and facilitates safe and easy adoptions. If a person finds a helpless cat or dog, they inform the page and fill out a form. Then, PAT posts about the animal all over their social media platforms, and reaches out to interested clients. A thorough interview follows, which helps to confirm a client's eligibility.
After a client is approved, they are required to sign a contract that renders it tough for people to badly treat or abandon the animals they adopt. "The main purpose of PAT is to eliminate the need for buying or selling animals, which supports the very unethical breeding industry, and puts them in risk of neglect often times," Orni says.
Once PAT was up and running, the initial response seemed positively overwhelming, which encouraged her to accelerate the process of solidifying the details as to how the organisation would function and what procedures it would follow to ensure safe homes for animals. However, despite the encouraging feedback, PAT has been facing challenges since their inception.
One persistent obstacle is that some people do not react very well to the rigorous questioning that PAT employs for fully confirming the animals' safety. "Sometimes, people question why we are going to this length for stray local cats and dogs," Orni says. Abolishing the pervasive discrimination between local and foreign-bred cats is also one of PAT's principles.
In the past, certain clients' weakening commitments also posed challenges to PAT because when they returned the animals, having failed to take care of them, it took a mental toll on the animals to be shifted to another home.
"At times, people don't take the legitimacy of PAT seriously. They think they can do whatever they want with the adopted animals even though the contract they sign with us is legally enforceable," Orni says about clients whose commitments fall flat. "Moreover, we have a policy of sterilising and annually vaccinating the animals from the client's end, since this process has been scientifically proven to be risk-free and well-suited for domestic cats and dogs. But at times, individuals did not keep their word, and we had to take the pets back. Some even refuse to pay a service charge of BDT 250, which we use to sustain ourselves."
Orni adds that PAT is undergoing 'Societies Registration' at the moment, and soon, they plan to branch out throughout Bangladesh. They have already started their process of expansion in Chattogram.
"In the near future, I want PAT to expand into a comprehensive space that deals with not only safe and effective adoptions but also things like having vets, pet supplies, and foster care," Orni says.
Until now, PAT has facilitated more than 260 adoptions. "Without PAT's directors, Mahin Inan, Tanvirul Islam, Nikita Rahman, and Oittri Hasan and our hardworking team members, it would not be possible to come this far," concludes Orni.
The author is an undergraduate student of International Relations at Bangladesh University of Professionals. Write to him at email@example.com.