A messiah to stray dogs, Puppy Bowls is a community kitchen started by Aanka Grover Vasesi in 2020. Aiming to provide two meals a day to dogs struggling to survive on the streets, Vasesi started this initiative as a charity kitchen.
“I have loved dogs ever since I was a child. When I grew up and had enough money to take care of them, I adopted as many dogs as I could. That is how I started this venture last year when the lockdown had come into effect. There were three others, along with me, who were willing to do this. We decided to cook food for all the dogs that were previously being fed by restaurants or feeders. But, we had to stop this initiative because of the lockdown,” Vasesi shares.
Vasesi now runs Puppy Bowls by herself, using her PR and marketing business to supplement the kitchen’s demands as well as taking care of medical expenses for injured animals. “We ran into a lot of debt, and my partners moved out because of this. I still have bills of about four lakhs to give to vendors. We couldn’t take care of a lot of dogs. At one point, we were taking care of over 1,400 dogs a day. Now we take care of 600 animals, including a few cats.”
To ensure she can keep Puppy Bowls going, Vasesi had to limit her horizons. As she explains, “We strategically decided that we will not cover areas that other feeders can look after or which have restaurants. The food goes to areas like Sarai Kale Khan or RK Puram, where dogs are not fed at all.”
Talking about what keeps her going in the face of adversity, she mentions, “The fact that I do not know how to go to bed knowing that a dog has been left hungry. That breaks my heart. All these months, my business hasn’t been doing well, but I’ve managed somehow. Now that my business is up and running again, I can muddle through. I don’t know for how long, but I’ll do it while I can.”
In the cold winters, Puppy Bowls keeps stray animals warm with bori beds (beds made out of sacks). “Till last year, I was only making beds for my dogs. But in the winter, I decided to make beds for as many dogs as possible. We also sold a few beds and used the profits to make more beds. That is what we are doing this year as well,” Vasesi concludes.