Popularly known as ACF Animal Rescue in Pakistan, the Ayesha Chundrigar Foundation is a non-profit organization that started the first-ever animal shelter and sanctuary for street and homeless dogs and cats in Pakistan alongside working donkeys and mules. ACF started a movement for change 6 years ago when there was zero animal welfare in the country.
In 2018, ACF won the WWF Green Innovation Challenge for creating Pakistan’s first handmade dog leashes out of 100% ghost net, ACF partnered with WWF in introducing this innovative project where the foundation funded the project with seed money to engage fishermen to extract wasted ghost net from the oceans that are then crafted into beautiful leashes by engaging the local community women.
Talking about the pioneering dog leashes, ACF founder Ayesha Chundrigar said “We have created a product close to our heart. This is also an effort to play our part in improving the environment. Through this project, we are not only helping save marine animals but also giving pet owners a chance to be eco-friendlier as the dog leash is made out of 100% ghost net.”
Ghost nets are plastic nets that inundate our seas across the world; turtles, fish and other marine animals get trapped in it as it’s ghost-like and is not easily visible under water. It’s a significant part of plastic contamination that is killing our marine animals in enormous numbers.
The ghost net used for the dog leases is handmade by women who have been employed in the impoverished fishing villages that have been trained in braiding the leash by team ACF, helping them become independent and self-sufficient.
One leash is made of 0.5kg to 0.75kg of ghost net which is extremely sturdy and strong for dogs of any size or strength. These fishermen are paid Rupees 8000 per dive (2 fishermen=1 dive) to extricate the ghost net. Approximately 2 tons of ghost nets can be retrieved in the duration of 1 dive. The fishermen then clean the net and the women have learned to bunch it up together and braid it in order to make the ghost net ropes. One leash takes between 1 to 2 hours to make. The women then line the ropes with scraps of thick cloth such as denim provided by Artistic Fabric and Garment Industries (PVT) Limited before the final adorning of yarn work to make the colorful leashes you see today! The raw material costs Rs.0 other than that of the yarn that costs Rupees 200 per yarn roll.
Indeed, registered in Pakistan with the vision of assisting and empowering marginalized and neglected communities within Pakistani society, particularly street and working animals who are on the lowest rung of the ladder of suffering. ACF started the first rescue service and hotline number for people to report cases of abuse, neglect, cruelty, and abandonment.