Essex Couple In Donkey Sanctuary Row With Delhi Neighbours

A retired Essex couple are facing the Indian equivalent of an anti-social behaviour order after neighbours in a smart gated colony in Delhi were upset by their decision to turn their home into a donkey sanctuary. Bob Harrison, 67, a retired immigration investigator, and his wife Jean, 69, are passionate defenders of animal rights who have provided an ambulance service for the city’s distressed donkeys since he took early retirement from the British High Commission in the late 1990s.

Their work with the animals and their owners – some of the poorest and most marginalised in the capital – has won them many admirers in India and throughout the world. Their work, under the banner of their Asswin Project charity, is largely unpaid and subsidised by his civil service pension. But their neighbours in Gurgaon, the hi-tech hub for India’s leading call centres, have accused them of lowering the tone of their area.

They have written a series of complaints to the local municipal commissioner urging him to close down their temporary animal shelter and force the couple to leave. They claim their donkeys create a terrible smell and that their noise stops residents sleeping at night.
They also claim their sanctuary has made the area surrounding their home dirty and attracted packs of stray dogs and wild pigs.
The Harrisons have denied the accusations and believe they are being persecuted because they are British. They said one of the neighbours is building an up-market gymnasium in their home and fears having a donkey shelter next door will drive away potential customers.

“The neighbours have complained to the municipal commissioner about the noise and the smell and they say it’s attracting the pigs. But there is a leaking sewage pipe at the back of the houses and the pigs love it,” said Bob Harrison.

Last night they told The Daily Telegraph they had been forced to keep six donkeys on the fenced forecourt of their home after an Indian animal charity they worked with said it would no longer accept injured donkeys and was planning to release up to ten donkeys currently in its care. The Harrisons now have four donkeys on their forecourt and are desperate to find new homes for them before they return to Britain for summer leave at the end of May.

Working mules in Delhi are terribly mistreated by their owners. They are forced to work long hours carrying heavy loads in brick kilns and silicon mines. They suffer cuts and bruises when they topple while over-loaded, and they are often kept for long hours without food or water.Mrs Harrison said they had seen many cases of donkeys killed after being hit by passing trucks. They had been tethered in pairs and unable to run to safety.They have now been offered a potential solution to their dispute by the municipal commissioner who has told them he will give them a nearby plot away from their street where they can build a new donkey shelter.



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