Thursday, June 24, 2021

Indigo staffer searches for his missing airport dog on wheelchair; finds him in Malad

Mumbai: That a dog is man's best friend is an age old saying. But, a touching tale of love and bonding between an Indigo airline staffer and a dog has come to light from the Mumbai airport which shows that man too can go to any length to save his furry friend.

Wheelchair bound Indigo ground staffer, Joseph Rodrigues (36), would regularly play and interact with a young male dog, named Whitey, at the departures area of the international terminal of the airport at Andheri. Their friendship was well-known, however, Whitey suddenly went missing from the airport last week, leading to a lot of distress for Joseph.

"I became very anxious as I could not find Whitey anywhere inside the airport complex. I started asking people around, including the staff of Airports Authority of India. What startled me was that another doggy (Browny) who was a buddy of Whitey, started showing signs of acute fear and stress. Browny would sit very close to my wheelchair and often whimper in low sounds, as if trying to tell me that something awful had happened to our friend Whitey," said Joseph.

He then became determined to search for Whitey across suburban Mumbai despite his disability."I also started sending online messages and photos of the missing airport dog to various animal activists in the country, as I did not have any specific local contacts of activists. Here, activists Priyanshu Sharma, Kalyani, Chaitanya, and animal friendly Mumbai cop ACP Sudhir Kudalkar and his team effectively guided me on how to go about searching for Whitey," said Joseph.

After going through a maze of energy sapping search in city lanes, he eventually went to check the dog centres at Bandra and Malad where the municipal dog catchers of BMC at times bring the canines. As luck would have it, Joseph finally managed to find his four-legged pal, Whitey, inside an enclosure at the Malad centre earlier this week. It was the happiest sight for him in a long time.

"Whitey jumped towards me with joy on seeing me at the Malad dog centre. I'd like to thank all the animal activists and friends who helped me find Whitey again. I can now do my airport duties in peace," said the relieved Indigo man.

He now wants to put both Whitey and Browny for adoption as he does not want them to be harassed again like this. He was told that some passengers at the airport had complained about Whitey because he used to run after cars.

"I actually doubt if any passenger would complain like this. Anyhow, since my airport shifts keep changing all the time, I would worry for the dogs when I am not there. I have also contacted an animal shelter to see if they can be safely kept there. Those who want to adopt these lovely dogs can also contact me," he added.

23/06/21 Vijay Singh/Times of India

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