Are you a Good Samaritan?

Maneka Gandhi

(Bihar Times)When every good politician is abroad or on “study trips” in Kashmir , Goa or Ranikhet,  I am at the Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre every day making sure it works.  Wading through gobar, picking up abandoned kittens, feeding the ducks, cleaning the monkey cages, shouting at the maintenance men. It’s a horrible day, made more horrible by Good Samaritans.


What should a Good Samaritan be ? Someone who picks up an unknown injured animal and brings it to the vet, assumes financial responsibility and comes every day or as often as they can to look after the animal and then take it back to where it was found – or find a home for it.  I am delighted whenever I find one of these.


Unfortunately, these humans are really rare.


What do I get instead. The self confessed do-gooder who feeds the animals in his/her locality, will not get them sterilized or treated if they have skin disease. Instead of being a responsible caretaker, he/she fights with all the neighbours and finally when the family gives up, brings all the healthy animals to me – or sends for my free ambulance to bring them to the hospital. He/she will come by with a long explanation of the fights, the neighbours, the police and then will refuse to pay for the animals since she ( these are usually women) has no money, will never come by again and these healthy animals will sicken and die in the hospital or have to be vaccinated, sterilized and then kept forever by us.


The other good Samaritan is the one who sees a mother with her pups on the road and feels sorry for them so has to bring them to us , leaves them at the gate so that she does not have to pay and then disappears in her car. She will ring up at odd hours and keep asking about the animals. If the overworked reception refuses to answer, she will complain to me about the rudeness of the staff.


Here are some more good Samaritans:


Some one who cannot keep the dog or cat in their house any more as they have an ill member of the family or a baby has been born or they are getting transferred  and rather than kick it out on the road as bad people do, these ‘good’ people will leave it at the hospital. First they ask where they can leave the dog. When they are told they cannot, it is a wicked thing to do, or that if they leave the dog they will have to pay Rs.15,000 for its upkeep, they argue and shout about what a fake Maneka Gandhi is and that we do not care for animals at all – as they do. Two days later they pretend they have brought the animal for treatment, tie the dog to a tree and disappear.


People who come to the hospital for free treatment at 2 p.m. and flash their People for Animals membership cards and say that the animal was found by them, was adopted by them (as if the rest of us humans gave birth to our dogs and cats) and therefore they are entitled to  free treatment. The dog is clearly a pedigreed one and not likely to have been taken from the road – but the argument about non payment and their self praise for having given a dog a home will go on till , out of exhaustion, the night duty doctor will do the treatment for free.


The police who bring in animals routinely  - their own , not those picked up from the street- and expect free treatment on a priority basis. We do these without argument – who wants to quarrel with a group that has 41 custodial deaths in their thanas daily (according to the Human Rights commission).


Donors who have once before given money for chairs or bricks or a cooler and for the rest of their lives expect free service for their animals.


People who claim that when they bought the animal they were well off, have had a recent reversal of fortune and cannot spend money on their animals. They leave the choice to us : either we treat the terrible, unwell animal or they will put it to sleep.


People who have kept two cats or two rabbits in their house, allow them to breed and when they reach a number like 30 , will bring them in baskets and tell us with tears in their eyes that they do not have the money to look after them anymore so either we take them or they will have to drown them.


People who see a suffering animal near their house, will send for our ambulance which will go 30 miles away to get the animal but will refuse to give any donation on the grounds that they have already done their duty by calling for help – and in any case, the animal does not belong to them.


People who bring an animal every day to the free section. Having proclaimed themselves too poor to pay for any medicine or treatment for the first animal they brought in , they will now bring in one every day with the most minor complaints. They will not learn first aid. Most of the animals turn out to be ones that belong to people in their neighbourhood.


These people of good-will, present the injured, suffering animal to us and expect us to fund the treatment of the animal. We do, but remember, all animal welfare organization get nothing from the government or from companies. We are totally strapped for money all the time and if these people would just remember the parable of the Good Samaritan we might make a better world together.


The parable of the Good Samaritan is told by Jesus in the New Testament. According to the Gospel of Luke (10:29-37) Jesus  said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. By chance a priest was going down that way. When he saw him, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite also, when he came to the place, and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he travelled, came where he was. When he saw him, he was moved with compassion, came to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. He set him on his own animal, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, and gave them to the host, and said to him, 'Take care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, I will repay you when I return.’ Now which of these three do you think seemed to be a neighbour to him who fell among the robbers?


"He said, "He who showed mercy on him."


Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."


Our would-be ‘Good Samaritans’ will certainly have pity on the animal. But you will note that the Good Samaritan did not say, "Hey, Innkeeper, can't you see how much I care for this guy? Fix him up. And by the way, I don't have any money. See you later." The self-proclaiming Good Samaritans have no interest in assuming financial responsibility for the problem at hand. And what's worse, they appeal to the veterinarian/shelter to use his/her time and resources to look after the animal, making him/them the bad guy if they don’t.  It drives me crazy every day.


All good Samaritans want the animal to get alright.  They want the warm fuzzy ending that makes them feel like a hero. If you say that the animal needs to be euthanized, they get very annoyed and I get emails and phone calls on how wicked my vets are.


The term "good Samaritan" is used as a common metaphor: The word now applies to any charitable person who, like the man in the parable, rescues or helps out a needy stranger.  It certainly does not apply to any of the types mentioned above who are simple people stroking their egos while claiming freebies.


Bring the animals to us of course - but your responsibility does not end there. Help us help them.

To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in


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