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Have you ever looked at an animal in need and wished you could do something about it? Often worrying about how complicated it is going to be, how long it’s going to take and a lack of knowledge on how to start is what stops us from taking things further.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t take special skills or a lot of money to help out. What’s most important is caring enough to do something. And with a little effort, you can make a world of difference in an animal’s life. We’ve put together a few ideas to get you started –

1. Be aware – There are animal rescue shelters around each city, figure out where they’re located and how to get there. Some shelters have an unofficial specialisation. For instance, some organisations are better equipped to handle trauma cases while others may have more experience with orphaned puppies. Try to figure this out.

2. Volunteer – Animal shelters are always in need of volunteers so you could offer your time, skills or offer your help in any other way. When you volunteer, you become more familiar with the way rescues work and empower you with the necessary knowledge on various issues regarding different kinds of animals.

3. Be vigilant –Keep an eye out for animals and birds in need. More often than not, helping out doesn’t take too much of your time. Reach out to the nearest shelter and seek assistance, should you require it.

4. Be prepared – Stock your bag with a small packet of food and some water should you see an animal on your commute that looks like he or she could use a good meal. Carrying a first aid kit will also come in handy. If there’s a small wound on a dog that you can treat topically, attend to it so it doesn’t become a much bigger wound. Often this needs just basic over-the-counter ointments, speak to a welfare worker or a vet for guidance.

5. Learn about behaviour – We may speak human languages fluently but we don’t really speak languages that animals understand. Animals rely on body language and signals to communicate. Learning to identify these will help you understand the animal in need better. You don’t need to be a professional animal behaviourist, learn from observations, books or online resources.

6. Speak up – If you see someone being cruel to animals, say something. Approach the person kindly and try to understand why the person felt the need to treat the animal in such a way. Getting into an argument works against the purpose. Always keep a calm face and tone of voice and you will be able to help the animal and the person in a bigger way.

7. Help build homes – The primary reason for human’s conflict with an animal is the lack of respect for space. Our cities are becoming human-centric and the habitats of other species are lost, leaving them nowhere to go. In your capacity, make space for habitats – by placing bird nest boxes, placing and refilling water bowls, making warm beds in protected corners, planting tree saplings, planting bee and butterfly specific plants.

8. Build a team – Talk about your thoughts and activities to your friends, family and neighbours. Often, people hesitate to take initiative but are happy to join a team. As the proverb goes, the more the merrier!

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