This lady shelters 400 stray dogs while facing incredible obstacles
Adjacent to the PVR Anupam multiplex in south Delhi’s Saket plush neighbourhood once stood a tin shack on wooden slabs and decorated with a few torn rugs. In and around this shanty, stray dogs could be seen walking around like disciples of a holy saint.
The shanty belonged to Pratima Devi. She has lived here for more than three decades and is a ragpicker. Better known as Amma in the neighbourhood, she earns only to look after hundreds of dogs in the locality.
A native from Kolkata, Pratima suffered marital abuse and had a dysfunctional home. She ran away from home to start a new life in Delhi about 30 years ago. After a few years of working as a cook for households, she started a tea shop at the PVR Anupam Complex. An animal lover from childhood, Pratima started feeding a couple of dogs which used to roam around the stall.
Soon the dogs grew in number but Pratima did not back off!
“I’m very happy with the dogs, I wasn’t happy with my own husband,” she once said with a smile on her face.
Pratima’s life is dedicated to the welfare of her canine companions, whose company she prefers and refers to as ‘her children’. Some of the dogs were abandoned by their owners, others rescued from accidents.
Every day she buys 12 kgs of rice and 5 kgs of meat for their lunch. She feeds them with 10 litres of milk for their breakfast. She spends her days feeding and nursing the dogs.
But her journey has faced severely adverse challenges that would have defeated lesser individuals.
Last year, a Councillor of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) ordered the demolition of the 66-year-old’s home.
Pratima claims that she received no prior notice before demolition. the MCD gave her only 15 minutes to clear the place before a bulldozer ran over and converted it into rubble. She also said many of her animals have gone missing, and a couple of them died too.
Many people feel that false allegations of drug-peddling have been used against her to demolish her home.
The MCD said that they took this action because of the multiple complaints that they received from local residents and shopkeepers of the neighbouring area, about Devi’s encroachment and selling drugs to small children.
The residents around that area had also allegedly been complaining about the dirt and the filth around their area created by the stray dogs that Pratima has been tending to for decades.
However, Jai Arjun Singh, a well-wisher of Amma, in his Facebook post has pointed out that this is an false charge against Amma because it is she who has been getting sterilisations and vaccinations done regularly for years. The real danger, he says, is for the dogs becoming scared, uncontrolled and aggressive now — that is after their homes have been demolished.
Pratima is a lady of incredible determination and will continue to be a mother to the strays.
“ For as long as I am alive, I will never leave these dogs, I will die with them,” she says. Her only concern “Who will feed the dogs when I’m gone? They will be orphaned. There won’t be anyone to look after them”.
Her aim is to find someone who can take her place.
“I request the public to help this old lady out. Because I want to do so much for them. That’s all I want” the strong lady says in a heavy voice with her hands clasped together and tears in her eyes.
Watch the Ketto video on Pratima’s inspiring work below
Ketto & Animal Welfare
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