For Immediate Release:
18 February 2011
Dr Manilal Valliyate; [email protected]
Anu Chowdhary; [email protected]
Animal Rahat Provides Free Buses to Families, and Aid Stations Are Set Up to Abate Gruelling Journey to Annual Goddess Festival
Chinchali, Belgaum, Karnataka – With the annual Chinchali fair set to begin on 18 February, families from northern Karnataka as well as people from Sangli, Miraj, Satara and Karad in Maharashtra will pile into carts and force approximately 2,500 bullocks and hundreds of horses and ponies to travel between 100 and 250 kilometres over a two-day period as villagers hurry to the fair. Animal welfare charity Animal Rahat has documented that in previous years, animals used to transport people to the fair have suffered from dehydration, wounds, painful lameness and severe stress. Some animals have even broken down entirely. That’s why the group is taking a new tack this year: Animal Rahat will not only provide emergency relief and veterinary care to these animals on an unprecedented scale but also hire buses to transport villagers to the fair in order to give working animals a rest. The group will hand out free snacks to bus passengers as well as free games to children.
“The Chinchali fair should be a celebration – but for the animals who are forced to pull heavy loads over long distances in a short time, the fair only brings pain and hardship”, says Animal Rahat’s programme manager, Dr Sushmita Parai. “These bullocks and horses have been sentenced to a life of hard labour, so we appeal to people to take the bus and leave the driving to us – and to let the animals stay at home and get the rest they so richly deserve.”
Animal Rahat’s veterinarians and paravets anticipate that they will treat hundreds of bullocks and horses for stress, pain, injury and disease during this year’s fair. The organisation will provide clean drinking water to animals, appeal to owners to offer rest to animals during transit, and show fair attendees how to properly care for animals. It will also deploy four relief teams: a full-time veterinary team at the Mhisal rest station, a full-time veterinary team at the fair itself, an on-call emergency veterinarian for the entire route and an education team that will discuss proper animal care with owners at rest stations in Miraj, Mhisal and Ugar as well as at the fair site. Additionally, Animal Rahat will place posters at the fair and at all three rest stations cautioning attendees not to hitch a horse and a bullock together, not to hitch bullocks of different sizes together, never to whip or beat an animal and to use morkee instead of cruel and painful nose rope.
For more information about Animal Rahat, please visit AnimalRahat.com.