Seven years ago, a cyclist zipped past Rina Raymond's apartment complex after flinging a young pup outside her building. Rina heard the squeals and discovered the terrified mongrel puppy hiding under a parked car. “He was just a little bigger than my palm”, she recalls. Patch is now their official ‘building pet' and enjoys sunning himself on the balcony and taking shelter indoors during the monsoon. Rina reveals that her husband and Patch routinely have long conversations and that the sneaky pooch is skilled at pretending to be underfed, especially while asking for treats. “He's the sweetest dog ever”, she says. “But he still doesn't like people on cycles!”

Patch is one of the many homeless animals that Rina and her circle of friends have rescued. Two years ago, she found a Labrador wandering near Rutland Gate, and was told by a nearby security guard that the dog had been there for days. “When we put him in the car, he got inside joyfully”, she says. “My mother nursed him back to health and my friend adopted him”.

She observes that when people get puppies on an impulse for their ‘cuteness' quotient, they don't understand that it is a long-term commitment, resulting in many pets being abandoned on the streets where their chances of survival are nil. “For example, if I left Patch on the main road, he would just die”, she says. “A dog is like a child. They have their wants – someone to walk them, feed them, fuss over them. You can't just give away an animal you've had as a pet”.

Rina uses her network of animal-friendly people to find adoptive homes and reveals that spaying and neutering pets is a must. “If you do this, you won't be left wondering: oh god, who do I give these puppies to?” she says and adds that this is an important criterion that helps her decide whether a home is good or not. “I don't give them (in adoption) to breeders”, says the soft-spoken Samaritan. “The saddest thing is for them to be kept only to be mated”.

SRIYA NARAYANAN

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