Meet Bengaluru’s 31-year-old animal lover who quit his job to care for over 300 stray animals
Every other day we hear about stray dogs in India subjected to atrocities, many of whom die on the streets. In fact, the country has over 35 million stray dogs, many of whom die without food or shelter or from dog-related illnesses.
Given their condition, Sajesh S, animal rights activist based in Bengaluru, who worked as a branding consultant for a company, quit her job to become the voice of those dogs.
So, first of all, he got an ambulance in 2017 to pick up injured dogs and admit them to a shelter. His first rescue was a black puppy who was, unfortunately, victim of an acid attack. Sajesh tried to admit the dog to a shelter, but neither of them were ready to take the puppy.
Sajesh (in blue) with one of the volunteers and a rescued dog.
âOver time, we realized that the atrocities that are happening against animals are probably too big for me, or for a shelter in the city to handle,â Sajesh said. Social history.
This prompted him to start Animal lives matter (ALAI), a rescue and rehabilitation dog shelter for injured, sick and disabled dogs, in Bagalur, Bangalore, in September 2017.
Fast forward to 2021, the refuge now houses more than 300 dogs and other stray animals like injured cows.
Rescue of stray animals
ALAI takes care of everything an animal in distress might need – receive emergency calls on dogs suffering from injuries, hit and run accidents, torture, abuse, distemper, disabled and abandoned dogs
Most of these dogs were fed for complete health. As part of its protocol, ALAI also ensures that each rescued dog is sterilized or neutered, and receives the 9 in 1 vaccine, which covers about nine different diseases, as well as the rabies vaccine.
Now they have about two shelters in Bagalur – one for old dogs and dogs who are still afraid of humans; the other shelter spans two acres of land and takes care of injured animals, with different sections for different treatments.
âIn this shelter we have around 350 animals, including cows, sheep, goats, pigs and horses. At any one time, at least 100 animals are on treatment, âsays Sajesh.
The rescue process
Each rescue is coordinated via WhatsApp or Facebook, where journalists tag the organization, after which the ambulance, along with a team of experienced dog hunters, is dispatched to the scene. They are usually caught with bare hands, or in the case of ferocious dogs, with nets.
The dog is then taken to the shelter where internal veterinarians examine the dog. Other details such as date of pickup, sterilization record, health issues, etc. are recorded for further medical treatment.
As part of medical treatment, each dog is vaccinated with three sets of vaccines and rabies vaccines.
The ALAI team
The dogs are then transferred to the appropriate section of the shelter. The shelter is divided into six sections – each housing dogs with distemper, senior dogs, permanent resident dogs, dogs with spinal injuries, dogs on treatment and large animals.
âWe feed these dogs about twice a day, which are then examined daily and fed until they are fully healthy,â says Sajesh.
Each dog undergoes animal birth control surgeries, two rounds of 9 in 1 immunizations and a rabies vaccine. If the dog is healthy, he is returned to his place of care, but if he is unable to cope with his original location, he becomes a permanent resident of ALAI.
These dogs are taken care of by a team of about 18 volunteers, which includes medics, expert dog catchers, guards and ambulance drivers who help take care of the shelter. Sajesh is also supported by his wife, Skyla, which helps conduct operations at ALAI.
The organization raised funds to support operations on the Milaap crowdfunding platform. They also have received CSR funds about four to five companies in the past year.
Challenges and way forward
Sajesh says that Bangalore lack of shelters, which causes them to receive a large number of requests which they are not always able to meet. Another challenge is the lack of space to house the growing number of inmates.
“While I feel that the city is concerned about animal wellbeing, many people are not positively receptive to animals that are returned to their location, âSajesh shares.
He also shares that private hospitals should be more empathetic and lower treatment costs, and donate more compassionate treatment of street dogs.
One of the survivors with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is now a permanent resident of ALAI and is being treated for the same.
âGoing to the nearest hospital shouldn’t be a financial struggle because the cause will go away. If people are overcharged, they may not come forward as much to save the dogs, âsays Sajesh.
He says that in the future, he wants to raise more awareness of dog rescues in places that are not covered by the BBMP.
âWe need to start focusing on those areas that are not covered by animal welfare organizations in Bangalore. In addition, we have also started picking up dogs from the villages, sterilizing them and vaccinating them before letting them come back to the villages, âhe says.