When Anjali moved to Chennai for work, she didn’t know her life would take a drastic turn. The strays, the abandoned, and the abused stray dogs craved for human attention. She would find them everywhere – on roadsides, outside parks, near the garbage bins. Most people didn’t pay heed, but Anjali wasn’t one among them. “Some of them were in so much pain. I couldn't turn a blind eye to them,” says Anjali who has been taking care of the strays for 30 years now.
When Anajli Decided to Become the Guardian of the StraysIt started with a few dogs. But, every time, she would see a dog who needed help, she would take it under her wing. She gave up her job and is currently working as a freelance writer. “I cannot have a full-time job and run a dog shelter at the same time. It was getting arduous, and that’s when I decided to call it quits,” she says.
Anjali recalls an incident that amuses her till date.
“One day, a group of people from my locality barged inside my house and started yelling at me. They thought I was feeding kidneys to these dogs. They wanted me to pack my bags and leave. Although, I left that place shortly after with the dogs, but today these people know what I actually do, and I receive calls from them whenever they want the dogs in the locality to be neutered, or if any dog is unwell and needs to be treated,” says Anjali.
Today, she has about 100 dogs at her home. She has rented a huge house in Red Hills and set up The Animal Society of Chennai in an enormous portion of the house.
Challenges Anjali Has Had to Deal With“I practically have no time for myself. From feeding to neutering the dogs, there’s so much to take care of. But, I have chosen this life for myself, and I don’t regret it,” says Anjali.
My job isn’t limited to feeding the dogs, she says. I also want to help the local community by controlling the stray dog population and decreasing the spread of preventable diseases. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) helps her accomplish the task of neutering.
“Surprisingly, I have met people who claim to be animal lovers but they can’t even spare Rs 100 for dog care,” says Anjali.
She gets up at 8:30 in the morning, feeds the dogs and cleans them. Every day, she heads out in her minivan at 2 p.m. to get food for the dogs or take care of the neutering as a part of her weekly target. “This requires a lot of traveling, and the total expense of food and fuel comes up to Rs 30,000 every month,” she says.
“There’s no way I can afford care of all the dogs. One of my friends is sponsoring the salary of the maid and the watchman,” she says.
She gets calls from people on a daily basis, and she attends to them as and when they need help from her. “But, I cannot continue doing so in this small van. All my work will come to a standstill. It is tough to carry a sick dog in a vehicle that breaks down frequently,” she says.
“It gets unbearably hot and suffocating. The dogs start barking. I want to mitigate their suffering and give them a better chance of survival, and buy a bigger vehicle,” she adds.
“I want to do so many things for the strays. For which, I’ve approached a lot of people too, but only to be turned down. Sadly, those who have the resources don’t want to help, and those who strongly believe in my cause don’t have money,” she says.