Meet India’s youngest Animal Welfare Officer

She is often busy filing FIRs against animal cruelty and attending court hearings

On December 12, Nirali Koradia, 22, received the letter that she had been long waiting for. It was from the AnimalWelfare Board of India and it certified her as an Animal Welfare Officer; the youngest in the country.

Ms. Koradia, a resident of Mulund, started actively working in the field of animal welfare at the age of 19. She says, “I used to be very terrified of animals, but my father [Rohit] planted the seed of unconditional love for animals in my heart. Once I started, there has been no looking back.”

Over the past three years, Ms. Koradia has rescued over 150 animals on her own, and in collaboration with various animal welfare bodies.

Ms. Koradia says the main challenge she faces is changing the attitude of people towards animals. She says, “A woman once assaulted me for feeding stray dogs on the road. That incident gave me an idea of just how deep seated cruelty towards animals is in most people. After that, I started learning about laws pertaining to animal cruelty in India.”

Ms. Koradia says the country has some of the finest legal provisions for safeguarding animals. She says killing or maiming animals is punishable under the Indian Penal Code and there are also special laws like the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Slaughterhouse Rules, 2001. Ms. Koradia says that there are many laws in support of animal rights, but only a few are read and understood.

“God doesn’t get pleased if you sacrifice animals. I think people need to understand this,” she says, adding, “dedication and compassion are what will impress God, not offerings of flesh and blood.”

Ms. Koradia says she is concerned that animals cannot survive in harsh climatic conditions and are in need of proper shelters. She says, “After the loss of my father, it was the animals that I took care of who helped me cope with loss.” Ms. Koradia has over the last three years accomplished several feats. She has ventured into remote areas of the State to expose illegal adoption centres and filed FIRs against people who hurt animals. Over the years, she has made friends in several police stations and is a known face in police circles.

Pillars of strength

Ms. Koradia says, “My friends and my mother are my biggest supporters. But some of my best friends are scared of animals. My mother was initially scared of the risks that I took, but my brother has always been my backbone, supporting me through thick and thin.”

Date:16 Feb 2017