And yet a small but powerful voice spoke – Every animal has a right to live on this planet as you do…That is the voice of MD. Zabi Khan, the youngest Indian animal rights activist who has highlighted animal abuse in Hyderabad, Telangana.
Zabi Khan born in 1997, was just 13 years old when he rescued an abandoned puppy thrown out of a car and left to die on the road. Unluckily, the puppy he named Cassanova, died soon after being brought home. Till then Zabi did not know the pup was abandoned as it was suffering from the Canine Parvo Virus (CVP if left untreated the mortality rate is as high as 91%).
A moment of realization was also a moment of truth for the 13-year-old when he decided to do something to save abandoned animals in Hyderabad. He believed in a cause – animal rescue and animal rights.
In 2013, when Zabi turned 16, he rented a piece of land from his pocket money to build a dog shelter. In 2014, he registered his NGO, ‘A Place to Bark’.
The quest continued, never dimming.
When Zabi got into Engineering College he realized he was not able to give enough time to, and care for his ‘children who bark’. So, without much trepidation, he walked up to his college Chairman to express his concern and rest is history. The Chairman allowed Zabi to build an animal shelter ‘Place To Bark’ on the premises. What began as a mere college experiment soon turned into an animal-friendly educational institution. The Place To Bark Society in the college campus created a self-governing system where a team of 35 student volunteers divided into 7 batches looked after the rescued animals.
Over the years, not only did Zabi save over 3800 abandoned animals (mostly dogs) but gave a sense of empowerment, purpose and belonging to numerous students who cared for these animals. A lot of families also came forward to adopt a stray. It was an establishment of a society where animals and humans could co-exist.
As Zabi completed his term, KG Reddy College of Engineering and Technology, Hyderabad, set up a Scholarship of INR 4 lakhs and a free engineering seat to take his place.
Today the 23-year-old Zabi has a set up a ‘no-cage’ sanctuary in Hyderabad’s Toli Chowki area, on a one-acre plot to rehabilitate, retrain and rehome animals. He received accolades for his work, being bestowed the Ashoka Youth Venturer and Rise Young Citizen 2017, National Youth Icon for Humanity 2018, Pride of Telangana 2018. He was also nominated for the Padma Shri award in 2018 and conferred Best Volunteer of India V Award 2019 by the UN.
In 2020, Zabi Khan appeared on the famous reality show MTV Roadies season 17.
Zabi’s most inspiring story only goes to prove, age is no barrier to deciding what you chose and love to do! We need more Zabi’s and more organizations like PETA to raise awareness about abandonment issues in animals and bring out their suffering, pain, and cries that often go unheard. Zabi’s, care for animals is not a mere animal rights activity, it is a distinctly human activity…