After his tenure as chairman of Tata Sons, Ratan Tata redirected his focus towards a passion project close to his heart – the establishment of an animal hospital in Mumbai. His aspiration for a top-tier medical facility for animals in India is on the brink of realisation with the imminent inauguration of the Tata Trusts Small Animal Hospital in Mahalaxmi.
Set to be unveiled in the first week of March, as reported by the Times of India, this hospital stands as a testament to Tata’s commitment to animal welfare and his desire to bridge the gap in veterinary services, particularly for small animals, in the bustling city of Mumbai.
Ratan Tata, a prominent advocate for animal rights and welfare, shared his motivations behind this endeavour in an interview with the Times of India. “A pet is no different from a member of one’s family today. As the guardian of several pets throughout my life, I recognize the need for this hospital,” remarked the 86-year-old visionary.
Tata’s vision for a world-class animal hospital stemmed from personal experience, notably a poignant incident where he had to fly a pet to the University of Minnesota for a joint replacement. Reflecting on this event, Tata remarked, “But I was too late, and so they froze the dog’s joint in a particular position. That experience enabled me to see what a world-class veterinary hospital was equipped to do.”
The Tata Trusts Small Animal Hospital, erected at a cost of Rs 165 crore and spanning five stories, boasts a capacity to accommodate up to 200 patients at a time. Leading the dedicated team is Thomas Heathcote, a seasoned British veterinarian who relocated to Mumbai to spearhead the hospital’s operations.
Initially slated for construction in Navi Mumbai when announced in 2017, Tata made the strategic decision to relocate the hospital to Mahalaxmi, citing concerns over accessibility for pet owners, especially during emergencies. “This (distance) could’ve been a major deterrent for pet parents, especially those in need of emergency services. With this in mind, finding the right space for land and getting permissions was also a reason for delay,” Tata explained.
The hospital’s construction faced setbacks, exacerbated by the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. “It then took us about a year and a half to realign the agreements, documentation, and paperwork. By the time we returned to normalcy, the expenses of the hospital had also been impacted owing to inflationary costs of steel, manpower, and availability of raw materials,” Tata elaborated.
As the Tata Trusts Small Animal Hospital prepares to open its doors, it symbolizes not only Ratan Tata’s unwavering commitment to animal welfare but also a beacon of hope for pet owners seeking advanced medical care for their beloved companions in Mumbai.