LOCAL HERO : Arijit Mukerjee | Salt Lake

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

Arjit Mukerjee

Age: 45 years old

Locality: Salt Lake

His Story: Parents wanted him to be an engineer. But after completing his education and working as a software engineer he gave it all up to open Eastern India's Largest Pet Care Clinic in Salt Lake.

Let's get to know him a little more:

From a promising career in engineering and software development what made you quit your job?

I liked computers but loved animals more. My parents always wanted me to be an Engineer, but after a particular time in my life, I could not pretend to like my job anymore. So I quit.

I took up photography. This gave me a chance to travel to many beautiful forests and reconnect with nature - that's what my soul was yearning for. I made documentaries for the government and private companies - my understanding of the world started to finally grow.

How did your Pet Care clinic 'CatsnDogs' start?

When I moved to Calcutta ten years ago, I was surprised to find there was no animal shelter in Salt Lake. Yes, Kolkata Municipal Corporation has a shelter, but my Bidhan Nagar Municipality does not have one.

There were many instances where people were cruel to animals. They would kill cats and dogs - No one would raise their voice!

I would walk up and even hit those idiots. However, I realized that was not the way to initiate change. Starting my own clinic gave me a chance to empower myself to help the animals. This gave me a deep sense of satisfaction - something I longed for all my life.

During this lockdown, you took on a challenging mission. Please share with us your experience in feeding almost 1500-2000 dogs daily.

The lockdown was sudden. I was very much concerned about the thousands of dogs who would have no food to eat, as they are dependent on the roadside shops. Instead of sitting and sulking, I knew I have to do what I can - to make a difference.

It started with feeding the dogs around my locality in Salt Lake. I used to take pictures and share on Facebook, raising awareness and reminding people to feed strays in their locality. Many people reached out and offered to help.

Kunal Agarwal, Commissioner of Howrah Police was aware of my initiative. The Howrah City Police offered to help me. I started raising funds through Facebook, the police helped me with a van, gas and civic volunteers.

We made it our mission that no being goes hungry. If we came accross people who needed ration, we helped them too.

Somehow, things fell into place. We managed to keep the drive doing for more than two months.

That's amazing. What is your secret? How were you able to carry out such a long drive in such difficult times?

There is no secret really.

I believe when people see that you are honest and sincere - it resonates with them.

They feel a desire to help you. At the end of the day, we are all one. So having empathy for beings in your community is part of our basic humanity. Lockdown tested our humanity.

Therefore, we, Cats n Dogs in association with Scud Society for Social Communication (a registered NGO) has taken the initiative to feed stray pets during lockdown days.

The "Fill a bowl. Feed a Soul" initiative would not have been possible without my sister, Dr Satarupa Sanyal, who happens to be the President of Scud Society for Social Communication. Another pillar of support of this mission is Mrs Seema Kapoor Taneja, partner of 'CatsnDogs'. Together we took on this task and worked sincerely for it. Yes, there were new challenges every day, but we stuck to our idea of extending relief during the lockdown.

What can we do to support your organization?

We are a pet care clinic so tell your friends who have pets that they can come to us. A regular flow of business would be great!

We are always grateful to receive funds for drives. You could donate to CatsnDogs, by the way, we are registered for tax exemption under 80(G).

And, I would be so happy to see volunteers participate and lend a hand. I do feel exhausted somedays, a little help would be nice.

Looking at the larger picture,

I would be happy to see people be more KIND.

To each other as well as animals.

Emaho Network is inspired by Arijit's pro-active leadership and compassion for the community. We hope to continue to encourage and support him. He is one of our Local Heros!

With him, we are #StrongerTogether.

Article Written by Roshni Ali | www.roshniali.com

She is a film-maker, writer and a founding member of Emaho Network.

You can follow Arijit on Facebook and subscribe to CatsnDog page for regular updates. CatsnDogs is located in Salt Lake, Sector-II (Kolkata)

A part of our Local Hero Campaign.

(If you have a local hero we should feature please reach out to us at emaho.network@gmail.com)

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