EASYivya Kapoor Gurwara has two rules to follow in her household – do not enter the house with dirty soccer shoes and do not bring any stray animals. While the first rule was followed with the letter ‘t’, one fine day in 2012, she entered her home to find her son Dhruv Gurwara playing with a 30-day-old terrier.
Talking to India is betterDivya said, “It’s not that I don’t like strays but I’m just neutral to their being. I was never actively looking for a dog or cat to adopt. I never had any feelings for them. However, with my son bringing home a hound, everything changed.” Seeing the tiny hound, Divya’s first reaction was not anger but sadness when the dog had to be separated from its mother.
“There was an immediate change in my attitude and I went from being unconcerned to being a super attentive pet parent, worried about every little movement the terrier makes. Does he get fed, does he have a cold, does he need medication – the list of worries is endless,” she said. The hound was named ‘Astro’, and he continued to be with Gurwara’s for many years.
But it was the influence of this little dog that got Divya started Kitchen for Foot – an initiative to feed more than 650 feral dogs per day.
‘Astro changed my life’
“It’s not that I haven’t met dogs earlier, but having Astro at home seems to have completely changed my view of dogs. A few days after Astro entered our lives, I had to go to Mumbai. Although I am physically there, all my thoughts are with the little boy back home. He got sick while I was there and I rushed back to Delhi,” she said.
Within 10 days, Divya realized that her life had completely changed.
“I started noticing more stray people around me and suddenly felt a very deep connection to them. Around this time, we also started feeding the camels right outside our building complex in Gurgaon,” she said.
When asked what had led to this change, she simply said: “The first time I looked into a dog’s eyes and what I saw drew me in. Suddenly, there was no reason for me to. must stay away from them.”
She continued, “With Astro, I found a lot of unconditional love – it was amazing that he could read me and understand my feelings. I was attracted to him and he was the reason why my attitude towards other voiceless beings changed so drastically.”
From not welcoming dogs into her home to having at least two at home at any given time, Divya has come a long way since 2012. “The best part is the other people. In my family, how welcoming the dogs are at home. It was the shared enthusiasm I shared with my sons that led me to start Kitchen for Paws,” she said.
Kitchen for Foot
In 2012, Divya founded an organization called Kitchen for Paws, which takes on the task of feeding stray dogs in and around Delhi/NCR. “It started small and we started by feeding about six stray dogs right outside my building in Gurgaon. I always have several packs of dog food in the car. Driving to work or to a meeting, I’ll leave food where I find a packet of peanuts. ”
From six dogs outside her building, the number grew to 15, and Divya said by the end of the school year, she’d found herself raising nearly 100 dogs in the neighborhood. The initiative started at Divya’s house, where the dog food would be cooked, but soon – with more and more dogs being fed – she had to find another space and hire someone. Drive to help her.
On average, the dogs are cooked 120 kg of rice every day.
“Today we cover a distance of 130 kilometers and have feeding points in six different locations across Delhi/NCR where we feed more than 650 dogs a day,” she said.
“Even in terms of food, we alternate between rice, turmeric, shredded chicken and dog food. This is to make sure that on the days I can’t make food, the dogs can eat dog food too,” she said.
Although Divya has been trying to do this for the past 9 years, she says it has not been easy. “Not many people offer to help when it comes to animal welfare work. I’ve had a lot of people pat me on the back and say nice things about my work, but they almost never put money in or helped out,” she said. This did not prevent Divya from continuing her work. She always seems to be looking for a way to get the resources she needs to feed the strays.
Divya spends almost Rs 5 lakh per month on food alone. She said, “Sometimes I wonder how I managed to do this. There are months when I don’t have the money to pay the providers and ask for an extension. So far, I’ve been pushing through and hoping that I find a decent way to make money for what I’m doing. ”
Concluding, she said: “Sometimes I wish I had more arms and legs, I could do more and help more voiceless animals.”
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)