Bangalore, Sep 15 (IANS) Some people call them a menace, others want them re-located or even killed. But one young dog lover has decided to help stray puppies of this city find a home.
With a red collar around her neck, 15-day-old Blacky looks anxiously for a prospective home at a puppy adoption camp here.
Blacky is not alone. Around 14 healthy puppies, all vaccinated, await a home, after they were rescued from the streets of Bangalore by city-based voluntary organisation Lets Live Together.
Till date, the NGO has helped around 1,000 stray dogs find homes through adoption camps in India's IT hub, which of late has seen a large increase in the number of stray dogs in various localities.
The NGO is the brainchild of Achala Paani, an animal rights activist and graphics designer.
As a 14-year-old Paani was touched by the plight of stray dogs on the roads of Bangalore. Appalled by the "survival struggle" of street dogs, along with abuse meted out to them, young Achala took it upon herself to give a decent living to the neglected dogs.
Achala, now 24, has managed to save around 1,000 street dogs so far and has given them homes too.
"When I was 14, my mom brought home a puppy she found on the street. Then I realised the plight of stray dogs. Since then, I've been bringing puppies to my home and giving them for adoption," Achala told IANS.
"Along with giving homes to homeless dogs of Bangalore, we're also trying to solve the problem of the rise in the number of stray dogs on the city's roads," she added.
As part of her mission to save stray dogs, Achala started Lets Live Together and for more than a year she has been working on her latest project "Life on the Streets".
She mostly organises adoption camps and sends out mails to people informing them about puppies available for adoption. During her initial days, Achala used to put posters in various places around the city, informing people about dog adoption camps.
During each camp, organised almost every month, the NGO manages to give homes to around 14 dogs.
"The adoption camps are also a kind of awareness programme, which aims at finding good homes for puppies and also counsels prospective owners on the maintenance of dogs, benefits of sterilisation and responsible dog ownership," said Shalini Menon, a volunteer working for Lets Live Together.
"We charge Rs.400 for the adoption of each dog. The money goes into the vaccination of the dogs. Moreover, we ensure that the adopted dogs are sterilised in the coming days. Once every six months we pay a visit to the homes of people who adopt dogs at our camps," added Shalini, who herself nurtures 23 physically challenged dogs at her home here.
Currently 70 volunteers work for the NGO.
To raise funds, Achala sells merchandise, including mugs, T-shirts and calendars designed by her.
"These days some people come and donate money for the cause of stray dogs in the city. Otherwise I depend on selling merchandise to run my NGO, as there is no funding for us from anywhere," Achala said.
So how does she convince people to adopt strays? "By telling them that by adopting a stray dog, they will be saving a life as well as solving the street dog issue. We can't just complain all the time, we should make a difference by finding a home for them," says Achala.
According to the 2007 census, there were more than 183,000 stray dogs in the city. Residents of many areas say that despite complaints, the civic authorities had not addressed the problem.
"From time to time, the government has adopted the relocation and killing of dogs to solve the stray dog problem in the city. We would like to say that killing is not the solution. The solution is simple. Method of animal birth control should be adopted. People should avoid buying dogs from breeders or pet stores and adopt pariah dogs," Achala signs off.