This image shows bullocks pulling carts on a road while traveling to Chinchali Fair.
These weary bullocks were grateful for the free veterinary care at one of the Animal Rahat rest camps nearby.

The team has returned from five long days and nights of bringing relief to animals during their grueling journey to the Chinchali Fair and goddess festival, where it helped thousands of tired, hungry, thirsty, and suffering bullocks and ponies.

Long before this year’s festival took place, Animal Rahat began encouraging travelers to ride on one of its subsidized buses instead of forcing their weary bullocks and ponies to haul them and their family on the days-long trek to and from Maharashtra and Karnataka. The team is so pleased that its work spared nearly 3,000 animals the long journey of trudging there and back. For those still forced into the journey, staff set up rest camps along the route, including at the temple. More than 5,100 bullocks and ponies were able to rest for some hours at these sites, and hundreds of them were treated—at no cost to their owners—for wounds, aching and swollen legs, stiffness, stress, and other problems. Once freed from illegal torture devices, like metal nose rings and sharp sticks, these blighted animals relished the soft sand, lapped up fresh water, and ate their fill of nutritious feed, green grass, and sweet jaggery.

Staff at one of the Animal Rahat Chinchali rest camps remove an illegal sharp bit from a pony.

Many humans love chucking their shoes off at the end of a long day, and it’s not lost on Animal Rahat staff that these weary souls never get to take their (metal) shoes off. Their feet pound on the hard, paved road for days. Let me explain how that relates to Shree, an elderly, blind pony, who was being ridden by a man who didn’t want to stop to allow her to rest. Animal Rahat’s scout, who was on the lookout for suffering animals coming down the road, could see she was in great distress—her head was weaving back and forth, and each step showed she was riddled with pain. They persisted, and as soon as he got off her back, the onsite veterinarian began helping this sweet old lady. Her gums were bleeding from the illegal spiked bit that was shoved into her mouth, so he removed that and kept it so it couldn’t be used on anyone else. She had a high fever, so he moved her out of the scorching sun and into the shade and gave her water and medicine. But her owner was difficult and obstinate, ready to ride this unfortunate pony until she dropped dead, so staff paid him what he considered to be a fair price for her. Animal Rahat arranged transport, and by the end of the night, sweet Shree was feeling better as she was welcomed to the Sangli sanctuary—where a caretaker promptly removed her shoes and told her she’ll never have to wear those dreadful things again.

Staff help Shree unwind at the sanctuary with a nutritious meal and a nice, quiet place to relax.

One evening, a young bull and a pony were hauling a family and their cart when the team noticed the bullock’s swollen leg. The wonderful veterinarians began treatment right away and explained to his owner that a dose of pain medicine wasn’t going to cure the bullock’s leg. He needed at least three or four days of rest. Staff arranged for a truck to haul the bull, pony, and cart back home the next morning.

Animal Rahat staff load the cart and the bullock into a truck to be transported back home.
Animal Rahat staff load the cart and the bullock into a truck to be transported back home.

Many animals were decorated with the powdered bright toxic dye you can see in the pictures included in this e-mail. This can cause cancer, so the team provided materials for owners to groom the paint out of the animals’ coats before leaving the camp. And while the animals rested, ate, or received care, the families—many of whom are illiterate—could look at the banners the team had put up that clearly communicated what cruelty to animals looks like and how to prevent it.

Every year that the fair has taken place over the last 21 years, Animal Rahat has helped tens of thousands of animals forced to make the trek there and home again—all thanks to those who support this vital work.

Be the reason an animal finds relief—donate today!