Sana Raja is a yoga instructor at the women training centre of the Social Welfare Department.
Her love for animals, however, led her to do a two-year veterinary course at the Pir Mehr Ali Shah-Arid Agriculture University.
She now treats stray animals at her home and currently has some 70 stray cats and dogs in her house, which she will set free once their treatment is complete. In a month, Sana and her friends will be establishing a camp near the Islamabad fruit and vegetable market to treat donkeys and horses and will pay their owners money so they will let their animals rest for a week.
Dawn caught up with Ms Raja to talk about the need for providing medical care to animals.
What made you think of looking after stray animals?
When I was 13, our car hit a cat. I took it to a vet and set it free when it was given treatment. I got a strange satisfaction when I set the animal free after it had healed. That was when I started caring for animals and started a Facebook page on which people could tell me about the injured animals in their locality which I would bring home and treat. I would bring the injured animals to vets, but they would charge me so much. That is why I decided to do a course for veterinary assistants so I could treat the animals at home.
My mother and brother were also helping me and we would spend our salaries on getting food and medical treatment for stray animals. Owners of donkeys at the fruit and vegetable markets demand money if you ask them to give the animals rest after they are given medical treatment, so we had to pay them as well.
Did you receive any support from a government veterinary clinic?
We did contact some government veterinary clinics but they did not have time for stray animals. That is why we would take the animals to a clinic in F-11 but we did not have money for the expensive treatment. After that, we decided to ask family and friends for donations but we could not collect a lot because people are not fond of stray animals. We contacted many philanthropists, but they also refused. So, we started giving animals food from our house after they were given treatment.
What happens to the stray animals after they are given treatment?
We bring injured animals into the house where they are given treatment for seven days. After that, we put up a picture of the animal on social media in case someone wants to look after it for another few weeks while they recuperate. We do not set the animals free without vaccinating them though.
But the response we get is very strange. People want to adopt animals of good breed and not stray animals. We only ask that people keep the animals outside their homes and give them food.
We once rescued a dog that was thrown into the Nullah Leh after he was pelted with stones. The municipal corporation forced us to set the animal free so they could kill it.
Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2017