Todd’s Welfare Society (TWS) is unique in that it is a shelter for strays. More specifically for those subjected to animal cruelty or who have sustained injuries some other way. Running entirely on donations, TWS remains the only Lahore-based setup that actively seeks animals in need of medical attention and treats them. From field rescues to vet visits and fee payments, the core management – consisting of just five people – operates without either financial or logistical assistance from the Punjab government.
Founded by Kiran Maheen some three years ago, Todd’s secured the lease for their current shelter back in 2017. It had to be set up beyond the city’s urban areas to avoid complaints from neighbours. Operations Manager Nabeeha Ayaz admitted this impeded their work. “It does take longer for us to get there but we usually send a veterinary doctor with the rescue team so that treatment can be administered immediately if need be.”
They have seen it all at TWS. From viral infections, fractured bones, missing limbs to maggot infested and fatal wounds. But there is just so much one organisation can do. “We only take in injured animals. That’s a strict policy. We don’t take in lost pets or healthy animals off the streets. Because when you bring a healthy animal into an environment that is meant to treat the sick – you’re putting them in harm’s way. We simply can’t risk that sort of exposure.”
TWS has a single-point manifesto: picking up injured animals from the street to give them a forever home; the chance of a better life. It is understood that many of these can survive on their own. But there are those in need of specialist care and attention or that are unable to make it in the absence of human assistance. For these, adoption is their only lifeline.
I met so many happy faces during my visit to the shelter. Including Lana, an incredibly affectionate ginger cat that had nursed her kittens against the odds; having fallen off a building and broken both hind legs. She now walks with the help of rods in her legs; though her agility belies the trauma. Jerry was not so lucky and has only three legs, but it’s hard to tell because he’s so furry. Other cats came to meet me, including Ping Pong, a beautiful grey cat that never left my side when I ventured into the cat room. Also part of the feline welcome committee were Katniss and Poppy. And last but not least, representing the canine contingent was Jonathon — a black and white dog that had survived against the odds due, in no small part, to his incredible spirit.
Every single animal at TWS has untold amounts of love to give. Indeed, all were affectionate and downright cheerful; which is why I agree with Nabeeha that it is heart-wrenching to see such low adoption rates.
Yet Todd’s does its best to make relocations happen. “We ensure all our animals are healthy and spayed before putting them up for adoption.” In fact, Nabeeha goes on to say: “Since neutering can be a bit expensive, we do it ourselves beforehand.” It is important to note that opening one’s home rescues not only that animal’s life but also those who will come after it by freeing up the shelter’s physical space.
Another crucial issue is that of dog baiting and general animal abuse. “People think animals don’t have any emotions, but they do. They’re sentient beings. They have as much right to be here as us.” Humans may deliberately inflict pain on those that cannot talk back. But those working at Todd’s believe that part of their mission includes giving animals a voice.
There is much that we, as a community, can do. Naturally, the priority remains adoption; and the process is a simple one. Thus anyone who can visit TWS is encouraged to do so and spend time with the ‘residents’. The preferred outcome is that an animal finds its forever home and its new person will have a lifetime of conditional love to look forward to. Of course, not everyone is in a position to adopt. That is why fostering is a wonderful consideration. Be their guardian until they are healthy enough to take care of themselves. This also makes room in the shelter for more animals in need of care.
Now that it has grown in size, Todd’s has hired full-time employees for 24-hour surveillance. But interns are always welcome since the entire enterprise is run on a voluntary basis. Which brings us to the questions of donations and every penny counting. Similarly, word of mouth recommendations are invaluable. Though for those wanting to make a real difference on a daily basis – I would recommend being kind to each and every stray that crosses your path. For such acts will help make our city a better place; one animal at a time.
So the next time you see a stray cat or dog wandering in your neighbourhood, leave out a bowl of food and water. Or else just keep an eye out for them. A small act of kindness goes a long way and does wonders for the community.