When man becomes a dog's best friend

Rakesh Shukla’s The Voice of Stray Dogs has rescued more than 5,000 ill and injured stray dogs. He speaks of all the services he provides to ensure every pooch is taken care of

November 02, 2015 04:19 pm | Updated 04:19 pm IST - Bangalore

A place where compassion takes the wheel

A place where compassion takes the wheel

In just a few years, The Voice of Stray Dogs (VoSD) is the country’s largest, privately run, registered not-for-profit dog rescue service. They have rescued more than 5,000 stray dogs in less than five years.

Rakesh Shukla set up VoSD out of his commitment to the cause of ill and injured stray dogs. “If you really love dogs, just saying ‘oh so cute!’ isn’t enough. Our model of volunteering is slightly different. Rescuing dogs is like running a rescue for children. It is serious business.

Volunteers at VoSD do hands-on work, giving a significant part of their day to do this. They have to write a statement of purpose, and the first job we give them is cleaning. Most of my staff is not from the city. They come from villages and small towns. They are used to dealing with animals.”

In July 2010, VoSD was only a website. “On October 15, 2012, we started doing rescue work of injured and ill dogs.” VOSD’s www.strays.in is a repository of legal, data analysis and investigative information on stray dogs. VOSD also runs a trauma centre, where injured dogs are brought and then taken to three vets, Dr. Nanjundappa, Dr. Lohit and Dr. Dheeraj. Their CRM-based tracking and dispatch system tracks the dogs from the time they are picked up. “All the information is available on the app, and is available to NGOs throughout the country,” informs Rakesh.

The VOSD Sanctuary, Rakesh’s farm outside Bengaluru, houses old, lame, blind and abandoned dogs. “It is about five acres. I live there for about three to four days a month. There are about 550 to 560 dogs. As soon as a dog comes in a VoSD ambulance, he is my dog. Once a dog goes to my farm, they get a name. Our first principle is that we will never refuse a dog or any kind of treatment. We have treated 5,200 dogs, out of which 300 dogs live with me. In the first year we rescued 600 dogs. In the second 1,200 and in the third, 3,600. Ninety per cent injuries are caused by accidents, also human cruelty.”

They have also started a canine blood bank. “About 100 of our dogs are healthy enough to donate blood. We have done about 200 donations.

For donor dogs, we have a hero of the day picture.”VoSD has initiated a fund raising campaign, VoSD 3015 Fundraiser. Stand-up comedians, musicians and artistes have also come into the fold, helping raise funds through events and performances. Eminent personalities such as badminton player Ashwini Ponappa, fashion designer, Prasad Bidappa, Ricky Kej and even Bengaluru Football Club have supported VoSD’s vision.

“Wehave events such as Barking Mad, stand-up comedy shows, and gigs called Howling Mad. Top fashion designers creating a fashion line for us,” says Rakesh determined to give his all to rescuing and nurturing stray and abandoned dogs.

For more details on VoSD, visit www.facebook.com /strays.in.

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