One year ago, a fourteen-year-old encountered a tragic scene on the streets—a stray pup had been run over by a car.
Shocked and distraught, she returned home in tears.
“I used to feed some pups every day, and seeing one of them like that broke me,” she recalled.
However, unlike most teenagers, Chandani Grover, a Class 9 student of the Sanskaar Valley School in Bhopal, could not brush away the memory of the incident and move on with her life. She knew she had to do something.
“The incident opened my eyes to the reality of strays. I decided to never let a dog—stray, abandoned, or domestic pet—be harmed under my watch,” she said to The Better India.
With her intentions in the right place, Chandani began searching for places that were suitable to protect and help these dogs, but their jarring scarcity turned out to be the next issue.
A year ago, the Bhopal Municipal Corporation had passed a resolution to build four shelter homes for the strays across the city. However, work on the project had gradually dwindled.
So, Chandani took it upon herself to build a shelter home for the stray and abandoned dogs of Bhopal. She was helped by Chitranshu Sen (26), Nasrat Ahmed (29), Dr Anil Sharma and her parents.
Together, they established the Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (RARC) in Barkheda.
“I used to take my own dog to Dr Sharma, so I requested his help. His guidance and expertise have been extremely crucial for the shelter home. He provides free health checkups, and treatment to all the dogs at the shelter almost every week,” she said.
She added that her work is meant to not just help dogs but also spread awareness about pet parenting.
“People care a lot about domestic dogs and pay special attention to a few breeds. However, dogs are not products; they are beings, just like you and me. Some people even abandon their pets like old toys, when they get old or fall sick. That sort of negligence is unacceptable, and this shelter home aims to welcome them all, irrespective of their breed or ailment. We rescue them and bring them here so that they receive timely treatment and food. We also train them,” said Chandani, who is busy making arrangements for the shelter home, which is all set to expand in a week from now.
Spread across an area of 15,000 sq ft, the shelter home began functioning only three months ago, but already houses 48 dogs, and has facilitated the adoption of three more.
Currently, only a boarding place for rescued dogs, it will soon offer temporary boarding as well.
“We have received queries from several pet parents, asking if we board domestic dogs for a short period while they are out of town. We plan to extend that option once all the necessary arrangements and facilities are in place,” she added.
Also read: Chennai Residents Turn Stray Dogs into Friendly Defence Force: A Lesson for Us All?
Chitranshu Sen, a team member who has been an integral part of the project, added, “When we began the work, it was a big challenge for all of us. Our work came from a place of passion, but it needed to have a structure in place. So I left my job in a travel agency and joined it full time under the guidance of Dr Sharma. Since then we have been conducting special training sessions for our dogs and also travel to people’s homes to train their dogs. Some people want to board their dogs for a short time so that they can be trained here, but there is no option for that yet. It might be introduced shortly.”
For Chandani, the work at the shelter home is exhausting and fulfilling at the same time.
“I have asthma, but my parents always encouraged my love for dogs and brought me my first pet when I was only 7. I could not have done anything without their support. Even the seed money for this came from them, and the donations made by our friends, families, and other dog lovers,” said Chandani.
Mindful of the fact that her board exams are inching closer, Chandani reiterates that her passion will never hamper her academics.
“We educate ourselves so that we bring about change in our society. I am working towards both, and am confident that neither will replace the other; they will go hand in hand. I will continue my work here along with my studies and prove it that age can never be a barrier when you truly want to bring positive change,” signs off the young hero.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)
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