Man Takes Care Of 735 Dogs That Nobody Else Wants—“The Dog Father”

RealClear Staff

            

     In addition to being a software engineer and CEO of a tech company, India-local 45-year-old Rakesh Shukla has a soft spot for animals—especially dogs. It’s more than love, as Shukla started an advanced dog-rescue center. He himself harbors 735 dogs that’ve been abandoned.

[Photo: Rakesh Shukla]

While he and his wife launched the now-closed Writers Block in 2006—a Bangalore-based company, which afforded them to travel the world, luxury cars and the lifestyle to match—Shukla simply didn’t feel complete. It wasn’t until 2009, when golden retriever Kavya came into his life, that he realized his true purpose in life.

“When we got home, she went and hid in a corner. I got down to her level on the floor, and I was calling out to her. She was looking at me—she was scared—but I could see she wanted to trust me,” Rakesh recalled. “And that’s when the moment happened—it was a physical feeling (my hair was tingling; I could feel a warm glow). And I’ve never needed to ask myself that question—‘Why am I here?’—again after that.”

A mere three months after Rakesh took in Kavya, he came upon a stray named Lucky—she was wet, dirty and dingy while wandering the streets. A few weeks later, when he’d encounter an abandoned or stray dog, Shukla would escort them straight to his house. But as he amassed more dogs, his wife could not handle it all. Rakesh realized he could use his company’s space as a home for his furry friends—the top floor of his office building was converted into an animal shelter!

[Rakesh and Kavya | Photo: Asif Saud]

In 2011, Shukla implemented a massive culling of stray dogs and founded the Voice of Stray Dogs—his organization operates on the behalf of Bangalore’s strays. It’s actually the world’s largest, urban, dog-rescue outfit.

“VoSD Rescue is essentially my private infrastructure that I opened to the city to save its dogs. Dogs that are my love. To do so, I created the most automated and tightly managed rescue in the world,” Rakesh posted on Facebook in 2015. “My vehicles & people are GPS tracked. Each dog has a reference and exhaustive database entries and more. You get SMS’, emails, online access. There is no rescue app like the VoSD Rescue App in the world. There is no enterprise CRM like the VoSD CRM in the world. There is no individualized tracking like VoSD provides in the world.”

Simultaneously, he kept accruing stray and/or abandoned dogs. By the time 2012 came around, the office was no longer sufficient space for all his best friends. Shukla purchased land in Doddballapur (not far from Bangalore) and set it up special for his animals. The majority of them are sick—no matter—but all are simply unwanted. Shukla currently has 735 dogs in his care—last he counted.

“I’m the last stop for these dogs. They are no longer cute and cuddly. Many are sick and no longer wanted,” Rakesh said in an interview.

But Rakesh isn’t doing this for acclaim or notoriety. He’s here to make their lives as easy and enjoyable as possible—the Dog Father has no limits to his love. Including trained, veterinary assistants, he employs around 10 staffers to tend to the dogs’ every need. Rather than kibble, the four leggers are fed 200kg of chicken matched with an even amount of rice on a daily basis—many get unlimited, medical attention. The VoSD Rescue spends between $650 and $750 per day in operating costs—95 percent of that comes from Shukla himself!

[Photo: Rakesh Shukla]

However, it’s not like Shukla has a constant stream of revenue, running this haven has been anything but easy. In fact, in 2015, he posted a message to the city of Bangalore, explaining how he’d spent over $1 million of his own money since VoSD’s 2012 inception. In addition to rescuing over 5,000 Bangalore barkers, he’s caring for the hundreds living at the shelter permanently. And there has been a seemingly unending string of issues facing this foundation, so Shukla has changed it up and now focuses mainly on the hundreds of hounds in his personal care. VoSD’s still operating out of its HQ, but it’s no longer a gratis guild—people must pay 2,500 rupees ($37) for a dog in need of rescuing.

“Earlier, we entertained all calls, where many turned out to be fake. After a spate of bad experiences, we have decided that whoever wants to have a dog rescued has to register online and pay a nominal amount of Rs 2,500 per dog,” Rakesh said. “This way, we will know that they are serious about what they want to do.”

Many see Shukla as a hero and savior of the animal world, but some have balked at and even attempted to thwart his efforts. In the past, so-called animal activists have sabotaged him, wanting access to the dogs and his facilities. More, Rakesh has received complaints of his dog collection creating a public disturbance—some demanding he be shut down! (Do these people have lives??)

It’s extremely easy to sit there and gripe & complain about the actions of others, but try do something that’s actually worthwhile—like saving dogs on your own dime! Does this look like a guy looking to take advantage of less-fortunate animals?

[Video: courtesy of The Civilian Volumes]

Rakesh has no intentions of shutting down the shelter. “I’ve made a pact with my dogs. We will part only when one of us kicks the bucket,” he said.

[Video: courtesy of PepperMedia]

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