His life revolves around his furry friends. Bengaluru boy Rakesh Shukla has been adopting stray dogs and giving rescue animals a home. At one point, he had 735 of them. Rakesh confesses that it was never on his agenda. Infact, he never had a dog growing up. “Sever years ago I got my first dog and she’s the only Golden Retriever that is not a rescue. I had to scramble to get the house prepared. And soon I found another pup that came running to me and I brought her to my office. In a few months I got her (Lucky) home as well. Eventually I started bringing in dogs that I rescued from the streets to my office and soon I started working on a plan to create a place for them to stay,” shares Rakesh on his furry tails pointing to his farm.
He believes that there’s nothing like a ‘dog lover’. In fact, he dislikes the term. “Love is not a noun it’s a verb. So if you’re not going to do something for the dogs that are around you, don’t called yourself a dog lover. At the same time, doing can be something small. You can just feed them and as soon as you start understanding them, you can start taking care of them. You don’t have to ‘look for dogs’ to adopt, they’re next to your house.”
Anyone involved in animal rescue knows how rough these waters can sometimes be, and what a challenge it is just to stay afloat. Adopting 735 dogs is no mean feat as he reveals, “It just so happened that the day BBC interviewed me there were 735 dogs. One year ago when I had about 450 dogs we were near capacity so I suspended the rescue to focus on my farm. In the last one year we’ve created two large water bodies, road, created capacity for 1000+ dogs and raised the height of low lying land over half an acre and created medical facilities for dogs. I’m the only one in India with this type of capacity. Recently the house of a lady who had 47 dogs in her house caught fire and seven died. She required someone to keep the surviving 40 dogs and I could move them all the same day and I kept them for 3 weeks. In this city keeping a dog in a boarding costs Rs 400-1000 per day; 40 dogs would cost someone 4 lacs for 20 days. Nobody pays me anything and I don’t ask for it. I started because I wanted to never tell a deserving dog we would not keep him and never say no to a dog because we did not have capacity. It’s not just a question of space it’s a question of logistics, of feeding them, cleaning them, medicating them.
Rakesh also has four rescue horses and three ducks. These dogs were rescued by Rakesh or by Voice of Stray Dogs and can’t be returned as they are pedigree dogs and need lifelong care. The founder & CEO of TWB twb.in also shares other interests. “I’ve cycled from Ladakh to Gangotri in the Himalayas for months on end. But now since I started having dogs at the farm, I don’t take any time off and haven’t taken a vacation in four years.”...