He’s an absolute animal lover, one of Mumbai’s most well-known RJs and Goregaon resident. In a tête-à-tête with GHP Mumbai‘s animal enthusiast, Supriya Nair, is Radio City’s RJ Salil Acharya.
Apart from being a dad to an adorable two-year-old son, Salil is also foster father to a dozen fur-balls around the city. From taking care of dogs, cats, birds and turtles, Salil talks about the importance of developing a positive attitude towards animals and inculcating this in children.
How many pets do you take care of?
Quite a few! Not just the pets in my house, I have an extended family all over the city. I look after them like they’re my children. In office there are three cats. In my building there are two cats and one dog named Tiger. Chanchal and Shivi are my two Shih Tzu babies at home. I have previously taken care of birds, turtles and a lot of others.
How has it been, managing such varied species? And how do you take care of them in the summer?
A lot of research goes into pet care. With hairy dogs, it’s tough to maintain their coats in summer. You’ve to constantly check the water accumulating between toes and paws. They need to be hydrated as well. Extreme heat can burn their paws.
It’s relatively easier to maintain a desi dog. They have stronger immune systems. Tiger, the desi dog in my building, was born in my arms. His resistance to diseases is much better and his response to health problems is faster and higher than the more pampered babies at home.
How have animals made a difference to your life?
Oh it’s been unbelievable! I have a son of my own now but if I didn’t, I would have lots of furry sons and daughters! Animals just complete your life. They change one’s perspective and judgement. I have no fear of animals. And I don’t trust anybody in my life who does not like pets and animals!
Does having pets in the house make a positive impact on kids?
Yes, it has made such a huge impact on my son’s life. He has no fear of any animal. Even when I take him swimming, he has no fear of fish. My dog Shivi is a little snappy, so my son knows not to mess around with him. That awareness is incredible and I think it’s very important to inculcate these values in our kids from a young age.
How do you, as a radio jockey, use your profession to sensitise people to animals?
When I started radio around ten years ago, I remember doing a fundraiser to stop all horse carriages in Mumbai. Despite a lack of sensitivity then, we collected Rs. 70,000 in a day! I was shocked but then I realised I could raise awareness about several issues. One of the best changes that I’ve seen is how people are becoming more responsive to adopting strays.
Living in Goregaon, how would you want to make a difference in your area with regards to pets?
There has to be a park. The biggest problem in the Goregaon area and most other places in Mumbai is that there is no separate space for the dogs to walk. There’s only one dedicated dog park in Bandra and I think this needs to change. Also, people need to be more responsible and scoop the poop in and around their buildings.
Finally, what is the one message that you would like to give all pet lovers?
There are a lot of good souls out there who go out of their way to feed animals. We certainly need more people like that. But pls avoid feeding biscuits and milk – too much sugar in them. And let’s respect every animal by keeping our surroundings clean.