One day, when Anuradha Mishra was travelling from Ghaziabad to Noida, she spotted a frail dog, helplessly stuck in a bog. With every passing second, the poor creature was sinking deeper and deeper in the mud. Anuradha knew if she doesn’t rescue him, he doesn’t stand a chance at surviving. Immediately, she stepped out of the car and ran into the bog, risking her own life. Standing dangerously in knee-deep mud, she finally managed to rescue the dog after a long struggle. She took him to her shelter – Hope 4 Speechless Souls – where he was named ‘Daldal’ (bog) and turned out to be the happiest, most playful dog among 80 other canines. For the past five years, Anuradha has been rescuing stray dogs – paralysed, injured, handicapped, comatose or senile – who are selected for ‘Put To Sleep’ (PTS), the watered down term for mercy killing.
Anuradha, who fondly refers to the dogs as her ‘babies’, is truly a mother for these ‘speechless souls’, who otherwise would have perished in street corners or garbage dumps. “I have been rescuing and taking 24 x 7 care of my babies for the last few years. Many of them cannot even move on their own. Starting from their medical care, feeding them to cleaning their droppings, I do everything myself. My babies are everything for me,” shares Anuradha with Efforts For Good.
How ‘Hope 4 Speechless Souls’ started
Since sixteen, Anuradha has been rescuing stray dogs from the streets, taking them to doctors for treatment and creating a better life for them. “I used to see many dogs who are inborn blind or differently-abled or have been paralysed in accidents. The dog shelters thought it better to kill them off within seconds with an injection, in an attempt to relieve them from their pain and struggles. It really pained me,” shares Anuradha.
A staunch opposer of PTS, Anuradha decided to take these dogs in with herself. She booked a flat exclusively for her dog-babies who had been declared for ‘PTS’ by vets. She enrolled herself for a veterinary training course at Noida Animal Hospital and has been performing all surgeries and treatments of her dogs by herself. “I tell you, 90% of the dogs I have treated have gotten better and started walking and playing on their own. All they need is a little love and care from us,” she shares.
However, soon, neighbours started expressing their displeasure about having so many stray dogs in a residential complex, forcing Anuradha to move out with her babies. She bought a plot of land amidst the wilderness in Noida outskirts and set up a canine shelter. Dog lovers across the Delhi-NCR region rescue strays and bring them to her shelter. “They fear that government animal shelters or veterinary care centres would put these dogs to sleep. But, they know Anuradha Ma’am will accept them all in her care,” she smiles.
Taking care of eighty dogs on her own
Giving eighty dogs the utmost love and care is no cakewalk, but Anuradha’s dedication overcomes all hurdles she encounters. Though her shelter has a few volunteers, no one else loves and nurses the dogs like her.
“Recently there was the hailstorm in Noida, my babies were so scared,” she says, adding how her shelter is located in an obscure location, where heavy rains, monsoon floods and high tides from the Yamuna are common. During such days, she stays day and night in a room with the terrified dogs, where water or rain cannot reach.
Anuradha prefers not to offer her ‘babies’ up for adoption, as she has faced some bad experiences. “People adopt stray dogs, but I have seen many abandon them later, and opting for foreign breeds. I don’t want my babies to be treated that way,” she shares in a disheartened tone. She runs a skin-care product business and channelises all her savings towards her helpless ‘babies’. “I have grown very sceptical now. Once, fraudsters tried to raise money online using pictures of my pets. So I try to keep the management as much to myself as possible,” she informs.
Some heartwarming stories of rescued dogs
The unsung mother of countless street dogs shares some heartwarming stories. Courage was another dog whom she rescued in a dying condition from a dump yard, lying motionless beneath a heap of garbage. He spent the last four years of his life happily in Anuradha’s shelter.
“There was a mother, who faced an accident and went into a coma, after giving birth to her puppies. I was worried that if she dies, her newborn puppies will also perish. I gave her the best medication, rest and care for nearly a month. To my disbelief, she recovered from coma and became a doting mother,” she narrates.
“There was a menace in Delhi, where some miscreants were hammering stray dogs on their head, and killing them for meat. There was one dog, who was hit on the head and left to succumb to death in the cold. I spent sleepless night treating him, and now look how big and strong he has grown,” says Anuradha.
“I think that just because they cannot express themselves, we should not position ourselves as God and decide their life and death. If God has given them the chance to live even after accidents or birth anomalies, who are we to kill them?” she wants to ask everyone. “I will take care of my babies till my last breath,” she signs off.