“Why my friends & I feed 20+ dogs every day” – Asmita Sen

Hi there! I am Asmita Sen, a Ph.D. student at IIT Bombay under the supervision of Prof.Gopalan Rajaraman. I graduated with a master’s degree in Chemistry in 2015 and joined the Ph.D. program in July 2016. In the Rajaraman group, I am exploring the catalytic reactivity of various metalloenzyme systems using Quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics and understanding the reactivity of their bio-mimic models in the presence and absence of an oriented external electric field. Although I’m here to talk about my furbabies and why they hold such an important place to me.

How did you start getting involved with animals?

In the last four years of my Ph.D. besides my academic journey, I had gone through an emotional journey with my insti’s fur babies. Initially, when I joined, I was not involved with the animals here at all. I believed that I was going to start a new journey which surely would demand a significant commitment from my side, and I should concentrate only on my course work and research. Although I was raised with pets in my home, I barely had any experience with the street animals. Things turned around when I first met a puppy named Teelu.

I remember the day when I saw him for the first time in front of my hostel (H10), he was little, playful, and had lovely doggie eyes. He was playing on that busy road; I held him up and took him to a safer place. We played for some time, and then I left. That day I did not realize I had fallen in love with him, and an invisible bond had developed between us.

He was my first furry friend in insti. We were inseparable; he followed me everywhere I went. Eventually, I was introduced to all the fur babies near my hostel, and I realized that there was no difference between the pets and these street babies. They also give you unconditional love, a great company, and a reason to smile.

Teelu (Right) when he was a pup. His resemblance to Jhabru(left) was uncanny.

How many dogs do you/your group feed every day in insti? What keeps you going on to feed them every day, and how do you manage the funds?

I am involved with the H10 dog feeding group, and I started spending more time with them. My friends and I take care of around 18 dogs near my hostel, department, and Kresit area. Our furry gang includes puppies as well as senior dogs. All of them were very loveable, super cute and extremely energetic. Generally, in our busy schedule, we manage to feed them once in a day. Their happy and satisfied faces after having food inspire us to keep feeding them every day. 

Managing funds was one of the biggest hurdles in our work, but students in our groups, present as well as alumni, and some kind-hearted professors chipped in. I am grateful to all my friends who helped me in feeding them on a daily basis.

They’re by your side no matter what 🙂

Tell us about the animal welfare group of insti, and your participation in it.

At present, approximately 300 dogs, cats, and cattle are living in different areas inside IITB. As we know, these street animals are living independently outside, but inside IIT, the main problem is the leftover food from separate hostels and canteens are not dumped in the dumping areas like outside IIT. Also, there are minimal water sources available for the living of these animals. Therefore, all the animals inside the campus cannot survive on their own.

Also, in the institution like IITB where a large number of students are staying in a residential area, there is an urgent need to sterilize as well as vaccinate animals who are living around us. For all of these tasks, we have a very active animal welfare group in IIT Bombay.

Moreover, a number of professors, as well as students, are involved in these tasks. Besides feeding the animals regularly, the group has been successfully conducting vaccination drive every 6-months and arranging sterilization for dogs and cats living inside. The welfare group is taking care of every dog’s health. Besides, we also help and provide medical help to sick (mainly due to old age) and injured animals (especially hit and run cases) needing prompt medical attention.

As we all know, due to COVID, we all are at home, and most of the feeders are not on the campus. I was very worried about the dogs when I left the campus. But, in these crucial times, all the professors and the students from the welfare group who are staying inside are doing their job greatly and protecting our fur babies.

Share some special moments that you experienced with your furbabies

For me, all the moments that I spend with my fur babies are unique, so it is tough to say about only one or two incidents. Every day, I feed them, spend time with them, and cherish their presence. Their innocent faces give me real satisfaction. I can not remember a single day when I do not find them waiting for me outside the hostel as well as outside the department. I never find myself walking alone in insti irrespective of the time, always having a companion in the form of these fur babies. I enjoy visiting boat-house with my friends as well as with my dogs; It fills me with joy unspeakable when I find my fur baby sitting beside me while enjoying the sunset there.

Lakeside and chill

After a busy working day when I meet them, they welcome me by licking my hands; their loving gesture acts as a stress reliever to me. The way they show their happiness upon seeing me is priceless. Their big innocent eyes after getting treats from me always makes my day. 

They always remind me of a quote “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself- Josh Billings”.

Do you feel these furbabies can turn a bad day around?

In this aspect, I remember a quote “You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, ‘Wow, you’re right! I never would’ve thought of that!’” — Dave Barry

Yes, they neither judge nor criticize and are always there to make you feel special. I think it’s a quality of these innocent souls that no matter what goes wrong they will always stand by you. Whenever I faced a bad day, I always found them by my side, and as they are perfect mood boosters.

I envy such enthu 😀

Any message for the people who love animals, or ones who don’t have affection for dogs/animals?

My message to all people who love animals and want to keep pets is to give a chance to these indie puppies.  Trust me, they are such darlings, perfect friends in need, and ideal companions. Above all, they will love you, no matter what. Please help these innocent souls by feeding them and by protecting them. Maybe for this, you have to invest some time in your daily life, but this can save lives. For these animals, we are their entire life.

People who don’t have affection for dogs/animals  – I want to say, it’s okay if you don’t have any affection for dogs or you don’t like them at all. But at least don’t hurt them and don’t discourage or criticize people who are trying to do something for them. Please remember these fur babies also have feelings and have the right to live along with us.

Teelu is still remembered !

Today, my first furry friend Teelu is not with me, but he is the one who always inspired me to love and protect innocent souls like him. Let’s try to have an inclusive society for everyone 🙂

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