CHENNAI: Animal shelters, which largely depend on contributions for functioning, have been hit badly due to the pandemic. One among them is the Almighty Animal Sanctuary in Tiruvallur, founded and maintained by a 20-year-old Sai Vignesh, an animal-rights activist who started rescuing animals at the age of 15 during the Chennai floods, and established the sanctuary in 2019.
“Ever since I began rescuing dogs during the 2015 floods, my love for animals kept growing. I come from a family of pet lovers. Before the sanctuary, I had 20 rescued dogs at home,” Vignesh said. Taking financial help from friends, family, and volunteers, Vignesh started the sanctuary. The sanctuary is home to more than 80 animals, including dogs, cattle, and pigs rescued from illegal slaughter.
However, things turned upside down following the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. The funds stopped coming in and Vignesh had to raise money through crowd-funding platforms. “The situation got worse over the recent months. Many regular donors stopped contributing and it’s getting harder to meet the expenses of running the sanctuary, including staff salaries, food, and medical expenses of animals. It comes to about Rs 2.5 lakh per month,” said Vignesh.
He further added that he is barely managing to run the sanctuary with the money he earns from his part-time job as a web developer, and his father gives a part of his income too. He is also borrowing money from his friends. Explaining his expenses, he said at least 10 bundles of fodder (hay) are required to feed 44 cattle in the sanctuary every day.
One bundle of fodder costs Rs 100. Over 300 bundles are required every month. It comes to Rs 30,000 per month for fodder alone, excluding transportation. On a rough estimate, monthly dog-food expenses would come around Rs 42,000. Vignesh can be contacted at 8939320846.