‘I shut my eyes and see the little girl I knew myself to be, eighty years ago, racing barefoot down a slope after a bunch of colourful, fluttering butterflies. Not to catch them. Not to break their wings. Not to preserve them in a jar to show off to friends. I know now that the girl was chasing after them to share their freedom.’
Mad Dogs and an Englishwoman is the remarkable autobiography of Crystal Rogers, who dedicated her life to the welfare of stray, uncared-for animals in India, and founded CUPA (Compassion Unlimited Plus Action) in Bangalore. It tells how Rogers, who was born in India, returned to Delhi from England in 1958 and was horrified by the barbarous methods by which animals are slaughtered for consumption, the cruelty involved in the transport of domestic animals, the distress and terror of animals kept in captivity for medical research and the agony of sick and crippled animals who are prodded on to work or abandoned because they no longer serve any useful purpose. Her deep sympathy for their plight resulted in her opening an animal shelter called The Animalsý Friend in Mehrauli. Soon, she also started taking care of the homeless, diseased and dying people she found on Delhiýs streets.
The book is full of memorable anecdotes, some touching, some hilarious, about the animals and people Rogers encountered over the next twenty years. Written in the best traditions of James Herriot and Gerald Durrell, this is at once a delightful account of quirky human and animal behaviour, and a powerful argument for animal activism in India.