In this world obscured by many dark things, there is nothing more precious than kindness and empathy. Those who are good, those who are kind, with their words and actions, they diminish the shadows of cruelty. More special are those whose kindness and empathy extend to all living things in the world, humans and animals. Despite the fullness of their lives, they never fail to notice the pain of others. Even that of animals. These kind, empathetic humans are my heroes. Syed Hassan is one of them.
Hassan is 19 and does a job that is nothing short of heroic. He saves abandoned animals, born in the streets or kept in conditions too horrible to be anything other than human. The eldest of three siblings, Hassan comes from a charming family of animal lovers, who he says “always support what I do”.
A resident of Lahore, Hassan is currently a first year student specializing in business administration. In June 2018, when he had just turned 16, he embarked on his rescue work “with the sole aim of helping as many animals as possible”. His host family-based rescue organization, Project Save Pakistan, which now has four people, worked for three years out of the passion and work of one person: Hassan himself.
What is quite remarkable is that Project Save Animals, to date, has saved over 721 animals. What’s also absolutely wonderful is the 100% success rate of their adoptions. As Hassan tells me, âAll my rescued animals are adopted and live in their homes forever; 90 percent of them came from Tollinton Market, and the rest abandoned or from the streets.
One of the volunteers for Project Save Animals wrote this about the teenager who I think is an angel to suffering animals: a world to them. He started to rescue [animals] three years ago and has no plans to quit anytime soon. Over the years he has saved countless animals and worked tirelessly to care for them and found loving homes for them.
I asked Project Save Animals founder and animal rights activist Syed Hassan a few questions:
Mehr Tarar: You are 19 years old. How at the age of 16, with teens having so many important and trivial distractions, did you become interested in rescuing animals? What was your most important motivation? Those Who Shine: Syed Hassan from Project Save Animals of Pakistan
Empathy is a very complex emotion for us humans. In many ways, empathy has diminished in our society. The constant barrage of violence, desperation and death that animals endure on a daily basis is something we can’t even begin to understand. I have always had animals around me and I grew up in a home where we had more animals than humans. We have always been taught to empathize with animals.
What brought me to the idea of ââsaving animals was when I first visited Tollinton Market in Lahore. Tollinton is the epitome of hell on earth for animals. The animals in this market are abused, neglected and starved to the point that they simply give up and die. Visiting this miserable market was the push or motivation I needed to get into animal rescue. Saving as many animals as possible has been my goal ever since.
Lahore Tollinton Market, describe the conditions under which animals are treated in this so-called market for buying and selling birds and animals?
Tollinton Market is one of the worst markets on the planet. The animals in this place are kept and left without food, water and sunlight, without any cleaning or maintenance. The traders in the market are so cruel that they close their shops for hours without any form of ventilation for an entire night. It is the poor animal who suffers all this time.
We are rescuing, rehabilitating and repatriating animals from Tollinton Market. However, it is not easy to find homes for our dog rescues in Pakistan, so they travel to Canada to find loving and forever homes. We sincerely hope that the Tollinton Market will close its doors and all the animals in this miserable place will be brought to safety.
How can we touch the hearts of every Pakistani to start protecting animals? What is your suggestion for collective behavior change?
I believe the constant media onslaught of violence and desperation that we see every day has desensitized us. I believe that the person who is going to go out of their way to read this interview on compassion for animals is already on the road to kindness. Animals and humans have to coexist, and we just have to believe it. Animals feel the same emotions of pain, love, and comfort that we feel. They just can’t speak and that’s even more of a reason for us to be their voice and help them.
What legislation to put in place to protect animals?
The government of Pakistan must take animal rights seriously and introduce laws that protect the weakest in our society. We animal rescuers urge the government to pass laws that protect and improve the lives of these innocent beings.
What can the average Pakistani do to defend and protect animals?
There are many ways that an average Pakistani can help improve the lot of animals in Pakistan. If you see an animal in pain, don’t look away. Help this animal by taking it to the nearest vet. Children being the future of our society, we must learn to take care of animals.
What has been a source of great happiness for you in your volunteer work for the be-zaban of Pakistan?
The before and after. The feeling you get when an animal after being in the most deplorable conditions is finally safe and healthy is priceless. Animals are the beings with the purest emotions, something that we humans are sorely lacking.