Atul Sarin pictured here with his beloved Siddhi, the dog who inspired him to start Wag. Photo Credit: Atul Sarin_ Welfare for Animals in GOA/Facebook.com/wag.india
A citizen of Siolim town in North Goa, India, Atul Sarin, 58 years old, says that the love of animals sparked in his heart when he would visit wildlife parks with his father in his childhood in Mombasa, Kenya.
To secure a better lifestyle, his parents moved abroad when he was 13 years old to the UK as the African countries were going through political instability.
He explains that after his graduation, he had joined his family business. They would run a retail shop of gardening and hardware equipment. He was not satisfied with his stressful life there and the weather conditions were also harsh for him. So, by the year 2005, he decided to quit the business and move back to his homeland to take relief from his busy life.
On his return, Atul purchased a big Portuguese house in Siolim- constructed in the 1930s. As the luxury house had oyster shell windows, high ceilings, a marble floor, a garden full of banana, mango, and jackfruit trees, he thought it would make a perfect guest house in the peak season of tourism.
On one fine morning walk during monsoon season in Goa, Atul was shocked to see many hungry and injured dogs on the verge of death. He recalls that he would visit them regularly to feed them every morning. He also began providing first aid to the wounded ones.
Meanwhile, seeing stray and nomadic cattle in his neighborhood would send chills down his spine as most of them were malnourished and neglected. He thought to help out these poor animals by contacting an animal welfare shelter, but to his shock, there were rarely any NGOs working for animal welfare in North Goa.
He reported to The Better India about a gruesome case of an abandoned cow. He had once witnessed a three-legged cow, trying very hard to cross a congested road. He was so saddened to see that as she was trying hard to walk, everyone would keep pushing her away to escape the traffic.
He went on to help her, but the traffic officials had asked him for a signed affidavit from the cow’s owner. He succeeded in finding the owner who sadly had dumped the cow because he could no longer afford to take care of her. He felt he had to help, took the cow back with him, and named her Tara. Tara was his first rescue case.
In 2022, the state government recognizes Atul’s garden as a cattle compound. It works as Welfare for Animals in Goa (WAG) and the NGO working for animal welfare got registered in 2012.
“I Bandaged the Wounds and Fed the Calves with Bottles”
Atul adds that his garden was sectioned into a compound by dividing its front section and keeping several cages to isolate the cattle from other animals like cats and dogs. In these earlier days, he would spend nearly Rs. 50,000 each month to maintain the well-being of animals.
According to him, back in that time, there was very little to no exposure to animal care. So, he had to personally teach his staff everything from a specialized diet plan to the treatment procedure due to a lack of knowledge. For example, if a cow had a hoof injury, its wound had to be washed every day.
He used to take care of the injured and deserted calves for which he would bring the milk from a farm and feed them through bottles with his hands. From cleaning the wounds to giving the medicine, to dressing the bandages, he would do every chore on his own.
WAG was located across the area of Atul’s house; the building of WAG was divided into two different shelters for stray animals. One shelter is reserved for cattle only while the other one is for rescued animals who are recovering.
He recalls his early days when WAG was working as an independent operation. He shares that the government laws call for the NGOs to keep a record of cattle on the streets and maintain them in compounds built up in the city. No such facilities were available back in 2018 when he initiated his rescue team.
Moreover, many people would bring their injured cattle to him for veterinary services, and he helped heal almost 50 of the cows with the help of his vet and a few volunteers. The owners would take their recovered cows back with them after their treatment. Only eight wounded cows like Tara remained under his care.
An employee of WAG_Krishna Murrai_Nurturing a calf back to life. Photo Courtesy of: Atul Sarin/Facebook.cm/wag.india
Atul decided to stop using his guesthouse solely as an animal welfare association. Because he was now short of his savings by 2010. He wanted to build an official animal trust which not only provides a space for the rescued animals but also urges the animal lovers to move forward with their donations to support his cause.
A veterinary clinic for the animals is also available inside the WAG. The clinic can shelter up to 20 dogs and cats promptly. There are a total of ten staff members at WAG: two rescuers, assistants, veterinarians, caretakers, and a few enthusiastic volunteers taking care of around 120 animals living there, including 70 deserted cows.
The Impact WAG Has Made Today
WAG Team with rescued pups. Photo Courtesy of Atul Sarin /Facebook.com/wag.india
The animal welfare society has succeeded in rehabilitating around 5,000 cows to date. He claims that his NGO is the only animal welfare working to rescue the stray cattle in North Goa.
In total with the amazing heart of Atul and the great work of his team, WAG has rescued and rehabilitated around 15,000 animals so far including cats, cows, dogs, goats, and even birds like turkeys, chickens, and parrots.
To learn more about WAG and the amazing work that Atul and his team are doing, you can visit their website: https://www.wagoa.com/ or their Facebook Page. And, if you’d like to support WAG in its mission to rescue more animals, you can donate through the link: www.wagoa.com/donate