India has an enormous amount of stray dogs and one-third of the world’s rabies death toll. One woman, Pratima Devi, is putting her mark on this crisis. At 65 years old, Pratima gives everything she has to care for some 400 dogs in New Delhi.
Pratima left her husband after marital trouble and happily dove right into helping dogs in need. Even though her son tried to get her to move to the village, she refuses to leave the dogs. According to Barcroft, she said:
I feel happy to live with them. When I was with my husband, I wasn’t happy. I used to work all day and run the house. My husband didn’t work.
She is not alone in her amazing efforts. Vivek, an 18-year-old boy, helps her care for the dogs. Together they make sure they are all well fed, clean, and have their injuries treated. The pair even make sure the dogs get vaccinated.
When we say well fed we mean very well fed, as they eat rice, meat, and milk three times a day.
These dogs are like my own children. I bring them home and take care of them. Some of them have been abandoned by owners or have been in road accidents. They are alive with me.
Pratima is worried that no one will be there to care for the dogs when she is gone.
I don’t know whether there will be anyone after me taking care of them. The way I feed them, take care of them, after me who will take care of them, no one can take that place. If I am not with the dogs at night, they won’t sleep without me. They won’t eat anything without me. Taking care of dogs is my religion.
People send in donations to help her continue to care for her gigantic pack, but she cannot afford to get all of these pups spayed and neutered. Pratima hopes a rescue organization will step in to help spay and neuter the pups to prevent the dogs from breeding.