If You Like It Then You Shoulda Put A Collar On It
We are all ambitious and energetic. We firmly believe in what is right, we are empathetic and are strong advocates of social righteousness. However only a few of us actually manage to do something significant. And even fewer of us manage to do it at the age of 23. Shantanu Naidu is an engineer working at Tata, who, a few years ago, in an attempt to help save the dogs of Pune from road accidents and cruelty, set up his own NGO. His NGO ‘MotoPaws’ has been instrumental in manufacturing reflective collars for dogs. He and his team have effectively managed to collar a huge amount of dogs in Pune. A young mind with a noble approach, Shantanu is extremely passionate about this cause. A few days ago The Punekar got in touch with him and asked him a few questions about how he made MotoPaws happen.
What instigated you to start an NGO centered around this cause?
Well, for the past 4 years, my friends and I had been making videos on social causes. We covered issues like child labour and bribery, and all of the persistent and common problems that prevail today. We made a video about a stray puppy called Johnny, and my heart went out to that dog. It’s sickening to see how people can inflict cruelty, be so ignorant and inhuman and have a general tendency of believing that there won’t be any consequences to face, because well, what can a dog do to them? This was one of the driving forces behind setting up MotoPaws.
Do you have any dogs? What do you love most about them?
Yes, of course, I have one dog. His name is Brownie and he’s a stray that I adopted. He’s 10 years old. The thing I love the most about him, and I’m sure every dog owner will tell you this – is the unconditional love that you receive. I’m certain that there’s always that one someone who’ll love me no matter what and will always be happy to see me.
How do you balance your career along with your NGO? Does it get stressful?
Honestly, there is no right answer to that. There are no tricks or ways. It’s all just about how willing and crazy you are, how much you believe in yourself and what you love to do. And no, it does not get stressful. In fact, it keeps me sane. It’s all about how well planned you are and how you organize everything. Planning is crucial and needs to be done way in advance.
How did you manage to raise enough capital for this?
At first, it was a complete self-investment. Everyone part of the team put in their money. We all didn’t really mind as it was for a good cause that we all felt equally strongly about. Then there was a friend of ours who helped us out financially. At that time, he was our benefactor and we can’t thank him enough for his help.
What more do you plan on doing with MotoPaws?
What I believe is that we need to reach the very foundation of the problem. We want to instill that awareness in people and target the psychology behind what they do. When a person is driving and he sees a dog with a collar, there is immediate caution because a collar signals that the dog is owned by someone and therefore harming the dog would lead to huge consequences. It instills fear and makes the person more careful. On the other hand, if it was a non-collared dog the reaction wouldn’t be the same. By collaring these dogs we want people to know that there is someone watching, someone keeping a tab on their actions. This will make them more aware of the consequences and prevent them from doing wrong.
Do you have any plans on further expansion?
We’ve already expanded to Bangalore and Jammu. We plan on expanding to more cities later.
How many dogs have you managed to collar so far?
In Pune, around 600 and Bangalore, 250. In Jammu we’ve collared relatively lesser dogs, around 15 to 20.
How do you manufacture these collars?
We require a specific material (reflective fabric) for these, which we source from Bangalore. We order it in bulk annd give it to our tailor. Initially, we had to explain to him about what we wanted but now that he has been associated with us since a while he understands exactly what we need. He manages to customize the collars and make them perfect. They always turn out to be brilliant.
Do you have anything to say to people out there?
Anybody into animal welfare, or anyone who may be sensitive towards the cause – please take a stance and do something. Just feeling bad and sorry for them will not do anything for yourself or the cause. Today the youth is so innovative and driven by reason and practicality. We should tap into this resource of ours and use it for the good. There are so many bright minds, capable of doing so much. You should go out and do it. You won’t regret it.
Shantanu, we wish you all the best for your future goals and for your NGO. It is lovely to see the youth taking such an interest in social causes and having the voice and determination to do something about it. We’re sure you’ve instigated some of our readers to take a stance too.
Pic courtesy: MotoPaws