It’s not often that we hear stories of people working and making a living to help or serve the community. It’s even rare to hear of a corporate executive spending a few hours of their daily life caring for and feeding hundreds of stray street dogs every day. Between around 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., Radhika Raghavan wears the coat of a stray dog sitter and does everything in her power to feed and care for them. Then, in the meantime, she hustles around her “Proman” office as a manager.
Although what she does for the strays is service, Radhika denies it and says, “I can’t call it service as such. I see a lot of dogs on the streets that don’t get food. Even if they do, they are mostly fed baked goods or cookies. I realized it would be good to give them something nutritious and healthy because they don’t get anything like that in industrial spaces. His office is located in the famous industrial zone of Bidadi in Bengaluru, and dogs in the area mostly go without healthy food.
There is a belief that when a dog comes into our life, the meaning and purpose of our life changes completely. Having experienced a similar feeling, Radhika recalls an experience: “A long time ago, when my husband and I went to a bakery to pick out some items, we saw a big, beefy brown dog resting its paw on the leg of every person who visited the place. It was the way the dog asked people to give him something to eat. And as soon as he was given something, he would turn around and walk away. This dog was one of the first we saw asking for food.
Of course, it is quite difficult to manage such a service without the help of other people. She has a team in place, one that prepares the dog food and men that drive the cars through town to feed the dogs. “We started with a few dogs. And over the past 7 years, from the first year to today, we have grown from 40-50 dogs at the start to 400 dogs a day. The number increased because during the pandemic, dogs that couldn’t find food in the usual restaurants also came to get food from us,” she explained.
Doing this for 7 years now, Radhika has experimented a lot with food to ensure dogs eat healthy and nutritious meals. After trying packaged dog meals and freshly prepared meals, she said dogs prefer fresh meals because they are also healthier. “There are so many leftover chickens, after human consumption, that are wasted every day. So we buy them from a market and cook them with lots of turmeric to remove the impurities. We then pulmarize them and then cook them with rice. There is no need for salt because they only need protein and the smell of chicken,” Radhika added of the food she gives them.
It is quite disconcerting to know that the cooking itself takes 7-8 hours, and the distribution then takes about 9 hours. She explained that they traveled a distance of almost 120 to 130 km per day, through 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 that job appropriately. The food is then packed and loaded into large crates to be distributed throughout the day. There is also someone to fetch the chicken and rice in bulk. So it’s a very organized process.
However, Radhika doesn’t stop at feeding the wandering homeless. She also makes sure that they are up to date vaccinated and also sterilized in order to avoid the birth of more homeless puppies. Additionally, they also take these dogs for checkups in case they feel unwell and facilitate the adoption of these homeless puppies. Animal welfare is also part of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) of their company Proman. Typically, a managed service with such a structure and organization should have a name. However, she shares, “Over the years, I’ve never thought of a name for what we do. Before formalizing the process, I think it’s important to do the work first and then see if we can really give it a name. So when the time comes, I think we’ll give it a name.
Radhika Raghavan ended with a message. “What people around us need to understand is not to abandon puppies or dogs no matter what, or move them from one area to another thinking there is a process of food organized elsewhere. These are not the right things to do,” she concluded.