MADURAI:When her father gifted her a puppy to help overcome the fear of dogs, little did she know she would become the saviour of stray dogs in Madurai’s Pykara.
Kusuma, now in her thirties, was scared of dogs so much that she once jumped over a neighbour’s compound at the sight of stray canines. But now, she has adopted a kennel of stray dogs in the locality and treats them as pets. Apart from 10 dogs which she rears at home, she feeds nearly 30 street dogs daily and ensures them medical care.
“When I was young, my younger sister and I used to fear dogs very much. To get rid of our fear, our father bought us a German Spitz pup which turned me into a dog lover,” Kusuma narrates. The family then started having pet dogs at their house in Alagusundaram Nagar and also in Bangalore where Kusuma worked for an IT firm.
“When I saw street dogs struggling for food and life in Bangalore, I felt bad and started feeding them daily. Unfortunately, I had to quit my job on health grounds,” she adds.
Recognised as a ‘Street Dogs Caretaker’ by the Animal Welfare Board of India, Kusuma continued caring for street dogs here. “Earlier, I was feeding them only on the street, but after they died, I adopted their puppies. I now have 10 dogs at home,” she says proudly. Most of them are named after the characters of desi cartoon Chhota Bheem and have been trained against barking unnecessarily.
For the street dogs in her locality, Ksuma gets waste from a nearby chicken stall and feeds them with cooked rice and meat besides taking them to government vet clinics for medical intervention and sterilization.
But her action does not go down well with neighbours or relatives. Though she faced threats from neighbours as they did not like her feeding street dogs, Kusuma approached local police and city health officials to silence them.
“Though I provide food and medical care to street dogs, I cannot adopt the street dogs because my house is already crowded. So, now I am looking for a leased land to establish a dog house,” she says.