Meet Fizzah Shah.

She is not the regular shalwaar kameez clad aunty next door. Nor does she indulge in petty gossip. She is a lady on a mission. On a mission to defend the animals who cannot speak up for themselves. Pelt a dog, cage a bird, and if you are spotted by her, then may God help you!

Meet Fizzah Shah. Animal lover. Animal Rights Activist. Vice President of In Defence of Animals. One of the bravest and the kindest ladies I have known.

In a brief interview, we get to know the lady a little better.

When was the first time you protested against a cruel act, how old were you then?
The first time I protested was when I was about ten years old. My parents had abandoned a white cat, which used to visit our house for milk. They got bugged and asked the sweeper to pick her up and leave her far away. I came from school and did not find her at her usual time. After enquiring my mother told me the story. My heart cried, I did not eat for two days and stopped talking to my parents for many days. Since I have been born in Muslim family I have witnessed many animal sacrifices which used to leave me wondering why these animals are sacrificed in the name of God, since they are also creation of the same God. Anyway, now I am fifty years old but still wonder about the same thing.

Being an animal rights activist from Mumbai, which is the cruelest incident you have witnessed?
Selma, cruelty is cruelty, it cannot be less cruel or more cruel. The animals suffer from all form of cruelty. What cruelty we feel is more cruel is a different issue.I can tell you when I was handling the skinned calves case, it was a horrible sight to see that hundreds of calves were skinned alive and thrown near Mahim creek. The crows and dogs were feasting on their dead bodies.

And the kindest?
Of course there are many incidents of kindness, which have always encouraged me to carry on my mission courageously. I used to see an old lady carrying dog food in big bags with her feeble, shivering limbs. She used to roam in the streets of Seven Bunglows in winter wearing a shabby sweater, in rainy season wearing that useless rain coat and in hot weather dripping with perspiration calling each and every dog with her particular whistle feeding them with her own hands petting them and applying medicine if they were wounded. Sometimes I used to stand in one corner and observe her devotion, the happiness and the contentment on her face while feeding all the strays. I think today my major work, that is feeding stray dogs, is due to her influence on me. I will be always grateful to her for inspiring me for such a heavenly work.

What inspired you to start IDA?
By seeing so many animals suffer I felt suffocated because there was hardly any help available for these ailing souls. So I came across few like minded devoted people and IDA was formed with the intention of “NEVER SAY NO TO ANY CALLS FOR HELP”. By the grace of God today IDA is a largest animal organization in Mumbai working tirelessly for the benefit of animals and many more people have joined us.

How do you see the problem of the stray dog population in Mumbai getting solved?
Selma, that is a tricky question. I feel it’s not only a job of few animal lovers to solve the stray dogs population problem. I think our government should take this issue very seriously and undertake a project by adding more NGOS and establishing more centers for sterilization by fund and infrastructure in to it.

The animal birth control programme should be taken very seriously. Also I believe the citizens of Mumbai should come forward and help the NGOs to make this programme a success by extending donations and other help. Sometimes I feel that people see the dog population as a problem which can be solved only by animal lovers. This is very wrong. It is a civic problem and it can be solved with the support of government and citizens.

If I witness an act of cruelty what should I do? Should I call somebody up?
If you witness a act of cruelty first of all as an alert citizen you can stop that cruelty. But if you cannot manage it, call animal NGOs or police to take action against the offenders under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. You should also acquire fair knowledge of animal laws so you can work in convincing way and the culprits should realize that they could be prosecuted.

I am free on week ends, can I volunteer to help with the IDA Activities?
Oh, How nice of you! You are always welcome to come at IDA center and help us out with our activities. We need volunteers like you who believe in working for the souls who cannot express their pain and sorrow through their voice, but their eyes tell us the story of their suffering.

I wish to donate some money to the IDA, can I?
Since we are charitable organization registered with charity commissioner you can donate any amount to IDA by cash or cheque. You will get the receipt for your donation which is the tax exempted under section 80G. Your small donation means a lot to us.

What is written on the IDA Ambulance?
The IDA ambulance carries our name and address with the name of donor who has donated the ambulance to IDA. Also we have written a good slogan, our web address and our e-mail id. So anybody can acquire more information for our work and activities. You can also visit our website and our e-mail id is

What is your message to the readers of this blog?

6 Comments so far

  1. kuns (unregistered) on April 16th, 2006 @ 3:44 pm

    nifty interview selma.. we need many more animals lovers like fizzah in this world.. just read like 3 articles by her, about raja the taxiwalla, ghasita and samosa on ida’ site.. cute names for dogs :-D

    I was telling a few friends back in india about how india is the largest producer of leather and how so many cows are killed etc and a lot of them did not believe. One of the responses was:
    you know one day a cow came at andheri station in the middle of that crowd but every body was going by touching her & praying they were not hitting her. hindus always take blessing from a cow & they can never treat a cow badly

    I was so shocked at this response.. Heres a link to PETAs investigation into the largest leather producing industry in world.. India! Its shocking!! And Heres one more.

  2. Akshay (unregistered) on April 17th, 2006 @ 7:02 pm

    Selma, great interview organisations like WSD and IDA are great lights of beacons light when it come to animal rights in India and Mumbai.

    I’m glad you mentioned the cases of illegal culling of calves for their skins for leather production. Though I agree that such indiscriminate slaughter of cattle should stop I think the stand PETA took against the Indian leather industry was very harsh.

    Western retailers boycotted Indian Leather following a sustained campaign by PETA. Doing this they paid little or no attention to the impact its campaign is having on the welfare of leather of people working in the leather industry.

    The leather industry employs more than 2.5 million people in the country. PETA’s UNTHINKING skinned mostly poor leather workers working on a minimum wage.

    Therefore, I’m quiet against lobbyist pressure groups like PETA.

    I would rather support groups like

  3. Selma Mirza (unregistered) on April 17th, 2006 @ 8:30 pm

    @ Kunsjoi:
    I did see those videos. Slaughtering animals for clothes is bad enough. But slaughtering them so inhumanely…! Fizzah Shah has seen a lot of the cruel side of Mumbai. Be it poisoning dogs, or flogging cats to death. If she mentions this as the most cruel incident, I wonder how bad it would have really been…

    @ Akshay:
    I agree that you are sympathetic to the small leather traders, especially found in Dharavi. No doubt these workers will lose their livelihood. But would you take the same stand if it were illegal drug traders making minimum wages out of selling drugs? Would you want them to continue trafficing drugs then, simply because they are poor?

    Another occupation for these leather workers might come by, but nothing can undo the cruelty meted out to these animals since years, be it for food, fashion or even medicine. PETA’s stand is not harsh. The cruelty has to stop. Somebody has to draw the line.

    And why use leather, when you do have pleather, which looks and feels just like leather? It definietly is a cheaper and kinder alternative. Its best if the existing leather traders start looking for alternate professions already, because I assure you leather will be eventually phased out. Apart from the mindless likes of Paris Hilton, who probably think leather is cool, nobody would want to sport skins of murdered animals.

    WSD is a dedicated organisation for stray dogs, but I’m sure everybody associated with WSD would completely agree with Peta’s stand. IDA does not like leather or the cruelty associated with it either.

  4. Satish (unregistered) on April 19th, 2006 @ 1:20 pm

    I really admire people like Fizzah who speak for the wonderful creatures who cant speak. hats off…
    nice interview Selma..

    In the Gulf there are no stray dogs only stray cats, the government puts to sleep all stray dogs there due to religious reasons.. I wonder if anything can be done about :(

  5. Eti Vyas (unregistered) on April 20th, 2006 @ 12:27 am

    very good keep it up. I feel there are very few people who are concerned about animals, most of the people feel that cruelity on animals should be checked but they don’t have either time or inclination towards it. People like Fizzaji are doing a great job by lending voice to the helpless creatures.

  6. Darshan Bhaskaran (unregistered) on April 21st, 2006 @ 7:55 am

    Hey I know Fizzah Madam closely after she involved in one of our case with the Society member.She was in Kerala at that point of time and from there she used help me in various ways.I can’t never forget those days and help she provided me.In short I can say that, “She is an Angel”.A Thank you will be very less to express my gratitude towards her.Parenbhai, Kiran, Pooja are some of the IDA members who helped me in various ways.I lend my full support to Fizzah Madam. Really nobody like her!!

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