‘People love breeds, not animals’

- March 3, 2024
| By : Tej Prakash bhardwaj |

Animal activist Manavi Rai, who quit her job to focus on helping animals, says people adopt foreign breeds only to abandon them later; wants people to go for desi breeds

CARETAKER: Manavi takes care of dogs that have been abandoned and raises them in her shelter

Manavi Rai, a Canadian citizen who has shifted base back to India, developed a passion for helping animals while feeding stray dogs when she was stranded in her village in south Delhi.

The passion for animals led her to quit job as image consultant and home stager, and devote full time to running an NGO and shelter for animals in need.

In an interview with Patriot, Manavi opened up on tales of her rescues and shed light on the challenges faced by stray animals in Delhi. 


Where are these villages [from where you have adopted the dogs] and how many of them have you adopted?

I started with one village near Chhatarpur, Delhi. I took complete responsibility for all the animals of that village. As the news about our efforts gradually travelled, we started getting cases from 8-9 villages nearby. Now, we even help (medically) and rescue animals, especially dogs, from these villages. 

What prompted you to start a dog rescue shelter leaving your job and stable career?

I was always a dog lover or let me say, an animal lover. During pandemic in 2021, I came across a case of a lactating female dog, which was bleeding while her pups were trying to drink milk. She was not able to feed them but they were still trying. I tried contacting an NGO in my area for help and rescue but no one came forward to aid her. The response was very negative. It really moved me and I decided to help dogs and run a rescue shelter home. I just decided to save her. That was the first case.

How many dogs and other animals are in the rescue shelter home?

I am currently raising two calves. The shelter home has 70 dogs right now. We are feeding around 150 dogs in and around our village. Many of these are paralysed dogs, who have met some accident. I have one that suffered rape and one which met an acid attack. We even have dogs who have gotten very old. 

There are a lot of stray dogs in Delhi. There is a growing tussle between RWAs and dog lovers. How do you look at the problem?

The major hurdles in animal welfare are corruption and bureaucracy despite Delhi being the national capital. The government has 13 units in Delhi responsible for controlling dog population and rabies vaccination. But no one is questioning the increase in dog population in the first place. There has been a sudden increase in that. Because not everyone is a dog lover, scores of dogs walking on every street or in parks is bound to create some friction. 

Dogs are not responsible for this. If we really wanted to solve the problem, we needed to put an end to corruption in animal welfare in Delhi. We needed to look at why MCD, which is supposed to control the dog population and ensure adequate vaccination, failed.

There is a growing trend among people to pet certain dogs like Pit bulls, Chow Chow, and Golden Retriever. Many pet these dogs impulsively and later on abandon them. Do you think that in a city like Delhi, which has a very high stray dog population, people should be focussing on adoption of stray dogs?

Yes, stray dogs are very resilient. They do not get sick easily. They are accustomed to the city’s climate and weather. Their maintenance is very low. These foreign breeds were brought to the country by the British. Before that, we had our own breeds like Rajapalayam Hound and Rampur Hound among others. Having a foreign breed pet has become a status symbol. People want these fancy breeds but do not know how to maintain them. Breeds like Husky, Chow-Chow are not meant for Indian weather. They suffer in this kind of climate. Why not adopt our desi dogs? Many people are just breed lovers, not dog lovers.

GOOD SAMARITAN: Manavi Rai gave up her job as image consultant and home stager to focus on helping dogs

We have come across many cases in recent times where people have abandoned these foreign breed dogs once they realise that they can’t pet them. People even leave dogs in our village as they know there is a rescue shelter in the village. 

Some people even buy these breeds so that they can practice backyard breeding and earn some money out of it. They make the female dog give birth twice a year and then abandon it once she can’t give birth. We see many such female dogs on the streets.

Illegal breeding of dogs is also a big problem in Delhi. Have you seen such cases while rescuing?

Illegal breeding is very rampant around Delhi and Haryana. This is a big problem because there are not many regulations for pet owners. Even the existing laws aren’t implemented effectively. We have Animal Cruelty Law from the 1960s. But no one cares. The authorities are not concerned about animal breeding at all. Seeing sparrows, monkeys, and dogs in a cage is very common. 

If today, I see someone raising pets like two Pit bulls for breeding, nothing much can be done about it as the law is very weak and not enforced. They even indulge in incest breeding. They do it till they can make money out of it.

How do these illegal breeding centres function?

I have seen many people even around my village with pairs. It is very clear how they are being used. I have even seen people raising multiple breeds. They might say that it is allowed, but it is not. They raise it and it is happening very rampantly. As per rules, one needs a licence to breed but who is coming to check. No one! No one checks the licence.

What kind of dogs do you rescue and how do you rescue them?

People have become much more sensitive about their behaviour with pets. Things have changed in my village. People’s behaviour towards street dogs has seen a significant change. We work round the clock, all seven days of the week. If we see a case at midnight, we even rush for help at midnight. People are also availing our services. We have seen no cases of rabies or dog attacks in our village since the last four years. 

What kind of cases do you generally see?

We have rescued one dog from an acid attack. Cases of dog abuse are very prevalent and we see many such cases. Other than that, we get many cases of paralysed dogs, car accidents and abandoned pets. We rescue at least one paralysed dog every week. These are just from around my locality, which gives us an idea of the numbers around Delhi.   

You have gathered a lot of support. 

We get a lot of love and support on social media. It clearly shows the number of people supporting the cause are far more than those who hate dogs or commit dog abuse. In fact, a lot of people are supported even financially for their rescue, shelter and care.