45 year-old software engineer, Rajesh Shukla, had sufficient money, ample opportunities to travel and a successful career. But, a void always persisted in the deepest corner of his heart, eagerly aching to be filled with something meaningful. And a new ray of hope came in 2009 when he found KAVYA, a distraught golden retriever puppy whom he adopted and his love for dogs never took a roundabout. Rajesh found his calling, in saving and nurturing abandoned dogs.
Eventually, he bought a three and a half acre farm in Doddaballapur near Bengaluru and to date, has saved and fathered 735 dogs. The mongrels, Beagles, Saint Bernard, Golden Retriever, Labradors, Great Daves and even a pug; all of them find a place on his farm. He has given shelter to all those canine creatures that have been disowned, lived in harsh conditions and lacked a nutritional diet.
The farm is designed to take good care of the dogs with all the facilities like swimming, running, double fencing and a 10 member staff trained in veterinary assistance. The dogs are provided with daily medical attention and are fed with 200 kg of chicken and rice every day. This upkeep costs as high as 50,000 rupees per day, 93 per cent of which is paid by Rajesh from his own pocket.
In 2011, Rajesh started Voice of Stray Dogs, a dog rescue organization in Bengaluru which is the largest in the city and keeps exhaustive data on dogs. They also have an app and all their vehicles and people can be tracked through GPS. People can access them through the internet, SMS or e-mail.
With a firm conviction to expand his work and create a hospitable unmbrella for these helpless canines, Rajesh’s has rightly become a caretaker, a friend and a father in all right to the man’s best friend.
DIKSHA KAKKAR & SWETTA SRIVASTAV | TOC
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