Zeba Masood – Saving man’s Best Friend with Love
Zeba Masood is an avid animal lover and has lived in California for over 40 years. A few months ago, she came back to Pakistan to live and take care of her parents in Peshawar. While here she noticed that Peshawar had a huge problem with the growing canine population and authorities had resorted to solving it by killing the dogs by poisoning their meat.
“So many children and human beings with so many animals roaming around, the health consideration is really a scary situation. We recently heard statistics about dog bites, which is there are around 30 dog bites a day in just one hospital. That’s not good.”
Admittedly the stray dogs were a health hazard for the human population, but for Zeba but poisoning the dogs wasn’t her solution. In order to help solve this problem as an animal lover she decided to open a shelter where dogs could be brought it, spayed, neutered and then hopefully adopted.
“I thought that this would be a good way for me to give back to this country, since I’d been away for so long. It being my civic duty.”
It was when she was thinking about how to start, her father gave her a piece of land which she could turn into the shelter. That was the first step in the creation of the Lucky Animal Protection Shelter. With more help from family, friends and a few donors, they fenced the area to get the shelter going. Then they took in six, both male and female, dogs around the shelter. People started bringing dogs in, from the roadside, from around their houses, some injured, some just unwanted. Zeba says it’s nice of people to see injured and stray dogs, make the effort to pick them up and bring them to the shelter.
“You know it’s kind of nice to know there are animal lovers here who really feel for these animals. So they bring them in, we get their medical done, we give them shots, we feed them every day, we give them a little bit of love. And then hopefully we can get them adopted”
Even though, Zeba says, the locals show kindness by throwing them meat and sharing their food with them there is still a cultural stigma attached to taking in or closely working with dogs. A lot of people have discouraged her from starting and working in this shelter, asking her why instead she doesn’t start a charity for poor people instead. Her answer to these comments is that it’s not just about the dogs but also about cleaning up the streets of these stray dogs that are a health hazard to both adults and little children. Also she truly believes that these dogs, as well as other animals, are part of the community too and it is our responsibility as thinking and responsible citizens to take care of them.
“In a community you have to worry about trees, worry about the garbage, you have to worry about the animals. You have to worry about cleaning up your society. All these things are important. And since I’m an animal lover I thought this was important.”
Despite the discouragement the shelter has already seen a success story that has given Zeba great hope. Her neighbors brought a pregnant dog to the shelter, where she was taken care of and spayed. After a while, a woman visiting the shelter, saw the dog and fell in love with her. Now the dog has been adopted and is living in a loving home.
“It gives us encouragement, that this is a start and it can happen. We can find more people like this.”
Right now the shelter has 8 dogs and about 35 pups. They’ve only hired one employee. The rest of the resources and donations including money from Zeba’s own pocket goes in getting the dogs proper food, getting them buttermilk, bread, making them soup and also dry food on meatless days. Zeba is also trying to get as many vets involved with the shelter as she can. These vets come in voluntarily, give the dogs a checkup and also provide advice on their care and health.
Zeba has started a GoFundMe page and constantly posts on the shelter’s Facebook page to encourage people to donate to the shelter so that she can continue to not only feed the dogs but also pay their medical bills. Her friends overseas love this initiative and often donate money to her cause but she’s determined to change attitudes in Pakistan when it comes to taking care of these dogs.
According to Zeba, people need to be made aware that there is a more humane solution to the problem of stray dogs in the country and when it comes to adoption to look at more than designer dogs but instead give these rescue dogs a chance. She believes the younger generation is key to spreading this awareness, who she often sees are eager to help at the shelter.
“A lot of the younger generation I’m reaching out to are liking it, want to participate, like they are thinking of making flyers and give them out in universities and colleges and telling people about animal rights”
Along with getting the youth involved Zeba’s future plans involves registering the shelter as an NGO, hiring more employees, getting more doctors involved and when more funding comes in, expanding the shelter by adding more kennels to it. Some day she would also like to open a cat shelter. Mostly, though, Zeba hopes this small effort will inspire others to start similar initiatives. She says a lot of people send in positive messages, some of them saying they too had thought that their city needed a shelter. For those animal loving people, she says they should definitely take on the responsibility, because it is what is required of us as a community towards these creatures.
“These poor things have no voice. They are voiceless. So we as a community need to take care of them. It is our responsibility. Towards all animals, whether it is dogs, cats, donkeys, horses, we have to take responsibility in our community to take care of them. Someone has to.”
We certainly agree and wish more people will be emphatic towards animals and give shelters like the Lucky Animal Protection Shelter their support.
Donations for Lucky Animal Protection Shelter
A/C 60 424 20311 714 103485
IBAN pk24 MPBL 0424 0271 4010 33485
Beneficiary: Zeba Masood
Habib Metropolitan Bank, University Road, Peshawar, Pakistan
Interview and Written by Sameen Mohsin