As unimaginable as it is for them to part ways with their pets, financial constraints have pushed the couple to put their dogs up for adoption.

Meet the Kerala couple who opened up their two-room hut to 14 stray dogsSunitha with the dogs she takes care of.
news Human Interest Wednesday, January 03, 2018 - 10:31

As soon you enter the compound of Sunitha’s house in Thrissur's Kecheryppadi, dogs of every imaginable shape and size will come bounding towards you – giving you the friendliest greeting possible.

Thirty-nine-year-old Sunitha, also known as Smitha in her locality, opened up her two-room hut to stray dogs a year and a half ago. At one point, almost 30 dogs lived with her, but the number has come down to 14 now, thanks to the good Samaritans open to adopting strays.

However, due to financial constraints, Sunitha and her husband are looking for better homes for the 14 dogs who still live with them.

Providing a shelter

Sunitha used to work at a multi-cooperative society in Thrissur as an agent – she used to canvass people to open recurring deposits as a means of saving.

Sunitha's house

At one point, she was so scared of dogs, she would run away at their very sight. Although her husband, Sinto, loved dogs, she never allowed him to keep pets.

"A year and a half ago, a stray dog gave birth to 7 puppies in a house in the neighbourhood. The people in that house did not want to keep the dogs and killed two of the puppies. On seeing this, my husband brought the rest home. He said it was a temporary arrangement then and that the dogs would be gone in a few days,” says Sunitha.

Now, more than a year later, most of the dogs cuddle with Sunitha in her bed.

A few months after they adopted the five puppies, Sinto came home carrying a shopping bag.

"When I asked him about it, he said that he found a puppy on the roadside that could have been hit by a vehicle. He borrowed a shopping bag from a nearby store, put the puppy in it, and brought her home," Sunitha points to a white dog the couple has named Devasena. 

"My husband is fond of the film Baahubali. This dog is a fighter; hence the name," Sunitha laughs. 

Over the course of the year, the couple started bringing home more strays. Once neighbours learnt that they were running a shelter of sorts, they too started bringing over abandoned or injured dogs.

"There's something about dogs that will change you. I guess they grow on you. I can't believe I used to dislike dogs for most of my life and now they are all over me all the time," says Sunitha. 

There is no kennel in the compound, only an enclosure where some of the dogs spend the night. 

Adoption

As unimaginable it is for Sunitha to part with her dogs, financial contraints have forced the couple to put up their dogs for adoption.

She was diagnosed with a fibroid in her uterus seven months ago and underwent a surgery. Since then, Sunitha has not been able to go to work. With her husband's health deteriorating too, the couple now finds it difficult to provide a home for the dogs. 

"On an average, we buy 80 kg of rice a month to feed the dogs. This is over and above the meat we buy to sustain them. For their food and medical requirements alone, we end up spending at least Rs 8,000 a month. And with my own medical treatment and the fact I can’t work anymore, we are finding it increasingly difficult to take care of them. As much as I would like to keep them all, I have come to realise that it is a challenge," Sunitha says. 

Some neighbours also took umbrage to the fact the couple was sheltering strays at home – they went from being the kind couple who took care of dogs to those people who add to the menace of strays.

"My dogs don't attack people at all; they know how to behave. But, after all, they are dogs – they wander about the neighbourhood and families have begun to complain that they are losing their footwear often! Now, I am also spending money to compensate for the loss other families incur! It was alright though, I was able to sort out issues with the neighbours," she says. 

Last December, Sunitha got in touch with PAWS, a city-based animal centre, through which she put up 17 dogs for adoption. 

"They are all part of good families now; I hope people come for the others too," she says. 

Sunitha hopes to get financial help from people to build a kennel for the dogs. To contribute, you can get in touch with her on 8078146977.

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