Normally, the expression “Dog Father” would invoke images of a Sesame Street parody of that Marlon Brando movie, but in today’s story, it refers to Rakesh Shukla, a software engineer and CEO of a successful tech company, who moonlights as a savior and guardian to the local dogs.
For over a decade, Rakesh and his wife worked on a technical communication outsourcing company they founded called The Writers Block, which has worked with high profile companies such as Intel, Microsoft, and Oracle. However, financial success only proved that money truly doesn’t buy happiness. The happiness heart craved finally came into being in 2009, when a Golden Retriever he named Kavyla came into his life.
According to Oddity Central, “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,” Rakesh recalled, “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.”
His love for his new canine companion inspired him to adopt another dog three months later, a stray he would name Lucky. Over the next few weeks, he found himself adopting more and more dogs until his wife could no longer bear it. Fortunately, his prior business success meant that Rakesh could afford to take care of his dogs, and he converted the top floor of his building into a dog shelter.
This alone was not enough for Rakesh. He eventually founded the Voice of Stray Dogs, or VoSD.
“VoSD rescue is essentially my private infrastructure that I opened to the city to save its dogs. Dogs that are my love. To do so I created the most automated and tightly managed rescue in the world,” Rakesh wrote on social media, “My vehicles & people are GPS tracked. Each dog has a reference and exhaustive database entries and more. You get SMS’, emails, online access. There is no rescue app like the VoSD Rescue App in the world. There is no enterprise CRM like the VoSD CRM in the world. There is no individualised tracking like VoSD provides in the world.”
Afterwards, he eventually bought land in the neighboring Doddballapur town and converted it into another dog shelter. As of the last time he counted, he had a whopping 735 dogs in his care. While it might seem excessive, he might be their only hope.
“I’m the last stop for these dogs. They are no longer cute and cuddly. Many are sick and no longer wanted,” Rakesh told the BBC.
After spending millions of dollars to rescue thousands of dogs over the years, Rakesh has been forced to start charging people who want stray dogs to be rescued. “Earlier, we entertained all calls, where many turned out to be fake. After a spate of bad experiences, we have decided that whoever wants to have a dog rescued has to register online and pay a nominal amount of Rs 2,500 per dog, ” Rakesh explained, “This way , we will know that they are serious about what they want to do.”
While he has been praised by many for is efforts in Bangalor, not everyone is happy about his venture. He said he has, at times, received complaints of public unrest for his keeping so many dogs, has been sabotaged in the past by people claiming to be animal activists and demanding access to his facilities, and some have even tried to get his shelter shut down.
However, this is a small price to pay to protect these beloved Canines.
“I’ve made a pact with my dogs,” he said. “We will part only when one of us kicks the bucket.”