Who was Richmond Crawford? Who was Lady Nanette Constantine? What is PAWS? Well, all of them have one thing in common. They were/are fond of animals and represent different generations which carried the flag for our ‘agreeable friends’ in Karachi. Let’s talk about them one by one.
Richmond Crawford was commissioner of Sindh and was known for his fondness for the welfare of animals. He dedicated two acres of land for the construction of a veterinary hospital in 1840’s. The hospital was named after him and from the day it became a hub where specialists and enthusiasts strived for the welfare of animals.
On the 18th day of May 1880, Richmond Crawford’s idea got momentum when a group of revered noble citizen of Karachi namely Sir William Lee Warner, Khan Bahadur Hassanally, Beg Effendi. Messrs lagget Price, Sayed Hassan Mediru, Tance Denso and Mr. Framroze founded Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) at Frere Hall Garden. The society played a pivotal role in creating awareness and enforcing laws for the protection of animal rights in the city. There were inspectors who patrolled the city and issued tickets to the owners who were found guilty of animal abuse.
Now move forward 100 years in time. Lady Nanette Constantine, a Swiss origin Karachi walla, became president of SPCA. She managed the activities which included operations of an animal shelter in Gulshan Iqbal, fighting a lawsuit for saving Richmond Crawford Vet. Hospital and running a hotline for reporting of abuse within the city. In early 90’s Govt. issued allotment to a builder for demolishing RCVH and building yet another plaza. Lady Constantine represented civil society which stood against the daylight crime. She was threatened for defending RCVH’s cause and her apartments was ransacked and later her car hit by a truck. However her spirited fight and ensuing public outcry compelled Govt. to rescind the allotment of Shopping mall. I wonder what happened to her. Was she awarded any civil award? or was any street named after her?
Fast forward to 2011, RCVH still survives. However in a very bad shape. To reach there, drive from electronics market saddar towards M.A. Jinnah road on the left. Head in the direction of tower. Opposite NJV School/Total CNG and before Radio Pakistan Office, you will find the building on your left. It is small and simple in design but rich in history. It has arches on the ground floor and square windows on the top floor. The structure is painted white and blue color marbles have been put very recently (quite misfit with rest of the structure). You will mostly find donkeys and goats getting the treatment. Move out and find a horde of children playing cricket. The top floor is closed for some reason. Brooke foundation has an office at the back. Apart from RCVH, Six to eight other vet. hospitals exist across the city but nothing as elegant, nothing as rich in history.
A more contemprary initiative for the welfare of animals was taken by filmmakers Maheen Zia and Mahera Omar in 2004 when they founded Pakistan Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). They dont have much infrastructure as yet but rely on volunteers to rescue injured animals and coordinate with private vet. clinics for the treatment. However they provide guidance and help in finding home for animals through facebook and other medium. The plan is to get an animal shelter up and running but it requires funds and more participation from volunteers.
Join hands with PAWS. We all share the responsibility.