It is not often that we hear stories of people working and earning in order to help or serve the community. It is even rare to hear that a Director of a company spends a few hours of her daily life catering to and feeding hundreds of street stray dogs, every single day. Between approximately 6 am and 10 am in the morning, Radhika Raghavan wears the coat of a caretaker of stray dogs and does everything in her capacity to feed them and care for them. Then, in the time in between, she hustles in her office ‘Proman’ as the Director.
Although what she does for the stray dogs is service, Radhika denies and says, “I can’t call it a service as such. I see a lot of dogs on the streets which don’t get food. Even if they do, they’re mostly fed bakery items or cookies. I realized that it would be good to give them something nutritious and healthy as they get nothing of that sort from Industrial spaces.” Her office is located in Bengaluru’s famous Bidadi Industrial Estate, and the dogs around the area mostly go without proper healthy food.
There’s a belief that when a dog comes into our life, the meaning and purpose of our life entirely changes. Having experienced a similar feeling, Radhika recalled an experience, “A long time ago, when my Husband and I went to a bakery to pick some items, we saw a big brown burly dog which was putting its paw on the leg of every person who visited the place. That was the dog’s way of asking the people to give it something to eat. And as soon as it was given something, it would turn around and go. That one doggy was one of the first we have seen asking for food.”
Ofcourse, it is rather difficult to run such a service without the help of other people. She has a team in place, one that cooks the dog food, and some men who drive the cars across town to feed the dogs. “We started with a few dogs. And in the past 7 years, going from the first year to now, we have gone from 40-50 dogs in the start to 400 dogs per day. The number became more because during the pandemic, the dogs that couldn’t find food at the usual restaurants also came to us for food,” she shared.
Doing this for 7 years now, Radhika has experimented quite a lot with the food to ensure that the dogs eat healthy and nutritious meals. Having tried packed dog meals and freshly cooked meals, she said that the dogs prefer fresh meals as they are also healthier. “There are so many leftover parts of Chicken, after human consumption, which gets wasted every day. So, we buy them from a marketplace and cook it with a lot of turmeric to remove impurities. We then pulmarize it and then cook them along with rice. There is no need for salt, as they only need protein and the smell of Chicken,” Radhika added about the food she feeds them.
It is rather perplexing to know that the cooking itself takes 7-8 hours of time, and the distribution then takes a solid 9 hours or so. She explained that they cover a distance of almost 120-130 Kms per day, across the Industrial areas. This is impossible without a separate kitchen. And so, she shares, “We have a proper separate kitchen and a cook who can do this job appropriately. The food is then packed and loaded in big boxes to be distributed throughout the day. There is also somebody to fetch the chicken and rice wholesale. So, it is a very organized process.”
Radhika however, does not stop with feeding the homeless strays. She also ensures that they’re vaccinated upto date, and also are neutered in order to avoid the birth of more puppies without homes. In addition, they also take these dogs for health check-ups in case they’re unwell, and facilitate the adoption of these homeless puppies. Animal Welfare is also a part of their company Proman’s corporate social responsibility (CSR). However, she shares, “Over the years, I have never thought of a name for what we do. Before formalizing the process, I think it is important to actually do the work first, and then see if we can actually put a name to it. So when the right time comes, I think we will give it a name.”
Radhika Raghavan ended with a message. “What people around us must understand is not to abandon pups or dogs no matter what, or move them from one area to another area thinking that there’s an organized feeding process somewhere else. These are not the right things to do,” she concluded.