Unchecked animal shelters continue to thrive

Actual number of documented non-profit groups is low compared to dozens on social media


Asif Mehmood July 04, 2021

LAHORE:

Animal welfare organisations do not get the limelight that the numerous human welfare non-profit groups in the country are given. Yet they provide hope, rescue services, and shelter for creatures who do not have a voice.

Dozens of social media pages and websites which function as animal welfare organisations are adorned with pictures of rescued pets, especially injured dogs, cats, donkeys, and horses. Like other organisations, animal rescue groups collect donations from home and abroad to fund their operations. However, an investigation has revealed that most animal welfare organisations are not registered with the government. What most of these social media animal rescue NGOs have in common are personal home addresses instead of offices and personal bank account numbers for fund collection.

The investigation reveals people pose for pictures with injured animals or birds and share them on social media in the hope of illicitly collecting donations. The absence of check and balance in this regard impacts the animal shelters which are genuine.

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Zofishan Umair established the JFK Animal Rescue and Shelter in Lahore, after her pet dog was killed by a dog killing squad. While talking to the Express Tribune, she mentioned that including hers, there are only three registered animal welfare NGOs in the city. She runs her shelter home with the help of friends and family and is the only one providing an ambulance rescue service for injured animals. She says, “all [JFK’s] accounts are open to donors and regular audits are carried out.”

Aniza Khan, Managing Director of Give us Life Animal Welfare, and her sister have turned their home into a shelter for dogs and cats roaming the streets. Aniza hopes to one day open a proper shelter for all the cats housed in her courtyard and roof. Aniza’s main hurdle is the absence of funds.

Aniza said that just as some people raise funds by setting up fake and dummy NGOs in the name of human welfare, similar complaints are also coming up regarding animal welfare and it is the responsibility of the government to act against such individuals.

Sources in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said that funds received by animal welfare organisations are scrutinized the same way as funds received by human welfare NGOs. They warned that if a person creates a fake NGO on social media and solicits donations to their personal account, they would be prosecuted according to the law however they have not received complaints of this nature.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2021.

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