Surya Singh remembers the day he started feeding a stray from the street years ago when he lived in Banaswadi, Bengaluru.
Christened Tiger, the dog, an absolute ball of sunshine, would accompany Surya’s daughter, a school teacher, when she left in the morning for work, drop her to the school gate and bring her back home at the destined time.
Life was hale & hearty until Tiger started entering the school gate, which inconvenienced the authorities. Calls would make their way to Surya’s phone, complaining about the pet. While Surya tried his level best to pacify the school authorities, he was forced to take action when his daughter told him Tiger had to be restrained.
To this day, Surya recalls the day when he forced the poor dog into an auto and left him somewhere far away, from where he wouldn’t return. He remembers the storm of regret that shook him on his way back after abandoning the pet. Unable to think straight, he decided to turn around and bring Tiger back home.
But alas, the dog was nowhere to be found.
“For me, whatever I did, was worse than a sin! Till date, I don’t know if he is alive or gone. But his disappearance from my life changed me completely. It was at the time that I started feeding all street dogs, wherever I could reach. And all the work we do, is in his memory,” says Surya Singh.
Whenever Surya would approach restaurants for leftover food to feed strays, he was met with one answer: All leftover food was dumped in bins outside.
Without thinking twice, he would dig into the bins, trying to find bones or any edible food. Packing it in a bag that he carried with him at all times, he would feed all the strays he came across.
The societal backlash was immediate. People would walk up to his wife Anju and say, “Your husband goes to restaurants and digs his hands into their bins and picks up bones for stray dogs! Has he lost his mind?”
But that did not deter Anju from supporting her husband. Only she understood the pain and regret Surya had over Tiger. And so, she stood by him. “You don’t need to go around looking for food. I will cook food at home, and we’ll feed the dogs together.” she declared.
“My wife and I used to feed 50 to 60 stray dogs in Banaswadi every night. But our neighbours started complaining that the number of street dogs was constantly rising because we started feeding them,” he says. While the couple pretended to not care at first, when things escalated and interfered with them feeding the canines, the couple decided to move the strays to nearby shelters who would give them prescribed care.
But soon enough, Surya, who himself is a certified trainer by the Animal Welfare Board, realised the conditions these strays lived in at these shelters, was beyond pitiful.
“The quality of care was substandard. They could only feed rice and milk to the strays. I had long dreamt of starting my own stray shelter. So I knew this was the time I could turn it into reality,” Surya said.
And that was how SAI (Save Animals India) Shelter began, located on the outskirts of Bengaluru in Yelahanka.
Surya and Anju moved to Devanahalli from Banaswadi in February 2015. Even there, the number of stray dogs in the vicinity increased to over 80, due to inadequate Animal Birth Control Programmes.
The couple decided to shelter them all. Surya also rescued over 37 dogs living in poor conditions from another shelter and got them to SAI.
Most of these dogs were infected and malnourished. With unending love and compassion, Surya and Anju nursed them back to health. They provided proper food, medical facilities under hygienic conditions and also a healthy environment where they could grow with affection.
Currently, the shelter boasts of over 85 pets, all of whom have been named by the couple.
Any visitor or passerby is met with a volley of joyous barking when Surya and Anju call each of the strays by their names.
Surya also gives dogs killed in road accidents a dignified burial. This also avoids airborne diseases spreading through the carcasses.
“It is important to create an example among people to be kind and caring towards speechless innocent souls, dead or alive,” he says.
The shelter, which houses their 85+ pets, including two cows Surya rescued before they could be taken to the slaughterhouse and kittens rescued during the monsoons, was set up by the couple on their own without any staff or labour.
“The house for the shelter is on rent. We are not in the financial position of appointing labour or staff. The number of pets is huge, and under no circumstances can we allow them to miss their meals,” he says.
While Surya runs the shelter on public funds and the commission he earns from property dealings and selling eco-friendly water boilers, it isn’t enough to cover the costs they bear every month to take care of these strays.
“It is extremely difficult. I constantly post updates on Facebook asking for help though. We feed them milk, bread and biscuits in the morning and meals consisting of rice, vegetable or chicken in the afternoon and evening. We spend anywhere between Rs. 70,000 to Rs. 80,000 per month behind food, medicines, lifesaving drugs and vet fees,” he says.
And this expense does not even include the rent of the shelter which is another Rs 15,000 per month.
And while the couple may continue to fight financial crunches and strive to make ends meet every single day, Surya continues to believe good samaritans who feel for the cause will come forward and help.
We salute Surya & Anju Singh for their indomitable spirit!
If you wish you extend a helping hand to the couple and help them continue their work
” SAVE ANIMALS INDIA ”
STATE BANK OF INDIA,
CURRENT ACCOUNT NOS-: 35411655135.
IFS Code: SBIN0011822.
Visit Sai shelter at:
Save Animals India
Behind Yelahanka Airforce Station.
Email : email@example.com
Get in touch with Surya Singh at 9886535565 / 9916786240.