Software Engineer Spends His Spare Time Looking After 735 Abandoned Dogs

January 5, 2017

Rakesh Shukla, the founder of a software company in India, spends three to four days every week on a farm, taking care of his 735 canines.

Most of the dogs are strays, the others have been abandoned by their owners.

"I'm the last stop for these dogs," Shukla told the BBC. "They are no longer cute and cuddly. Many are sick and no longer wanted."

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"I had worked in Delhi, in the United States and then set up my own company in Bangalore," he said. "Life was all about buying big cars and expensive watches and living a fancy life. I had travelled and seen the world many times over, but then I was not happy."

Then Kavya came into his life: a beautiful 45-day-old Golden Retriever that he fell hopelessly in love with.

"When we got home, she went and hid in a corner. I got down to her level on the floor and I was calling out to her. She was looking at me, she was scared, but I could see she wanted to trust me," he said.

"And that's when the moment happened - it was a physical feeling, my hair was tingling, I could feel a warm glow. And I've never needed to ask myself that question - 'why am I here?' - again after that."

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Over the next few months, whenever he met a stray or abandoned dog, he brought it home.

In 2012, as the pack grew, Shukla bought land and set up the farm - a haven for dogs that are old, ailing or simply unwanted.

The farm employs about 10 people, including trained veterinary assistants, to look after the dogs, cook for them and feed them.

The daily cost of running the farm is 45,000 to 50,000 rupees ($663 to $737), according to Shukla, who provides 93% of the funds.

In the past year though, he has been faced with complaints that he is creating public unrest by keeping so many dogs. There have also been demands that he shut down the farm.

Shukla refuses to concede.

"I've made a pact with my dogs," he said. "We will part only when one of us kicks the bucket."

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